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Taking a look at Thompson's shooting and best lineups
Warriors at Hawks - could Iguodala finally return?!
The Golden State Warriors are coming in hot off their victory over the Miami Heat, looking to rack up some wins and maybe climb back into the second seed. Tonight’s opponent, the Atlanta Hawks are 4-1 over their last five games, and even though the team is around .500 they sport a 23-13 record at home.
But what’s that? Is that Andre Iguodala music?
Don’t tell me that he didn’t have an under the table deal to play until Klay Thompson returned, then rest up till it’s time to get ready for the playoffs - because I don’t want to hear it!
WHO: Golden State Warriors (48-25) at Atlanta Hawks (36-37)
WHEN: Friday, March 25th, 2022 // 4:30pm PDT
Checking in on Klay
On of our community members has requested a breakdown on Klay Thompson, so I thought this would be a good time to dive into some of the more detailed statistics and lineup information on the other Splash Brother. As we pointed out the other day, Thompson is achieving the undesirable pairing of the highest shot attempt rate of his professional career alongside his lowest scoring efficiency ever.
But the question swirling around the return of Thompson extend beyond the stat sheet. Questions like “should Jordan Poole be starting” or “why doesn’t Klay dial it back a bit?” To understand how he’s playing, the first step is to look at the lineups that Thompson is playing in. It’s not that hard to do, as he’s only played 726 minutes on the season. Sorting the five-man units for a minimum of 20 minutes together , returns these seven groups:
The vast majority of those units have been net positives. This is going to be important in the playoffs, where tighter rotations and the need to play as a cohesive unit conspire to act as a natural choke point for experimentation.
That second-from-the-bottom lineup, with Thompson, Porter, Wiggins, Looney, and Poole should be getting some serious run during Curry’s absence, and could also be a fantastic bench unit for the Warriors. So far, Thompson’s minutes limitation and prohibition against playing back-to-back games has prevented any sort of stable rotation patterns — something that’s not going away. But in the meantime, there’s plenty of synergies to discover.
According to Cleaning the Glass, Thompson’s on/off impact isn’t great. Clocking in at -2.7 points per 100 possessions, it’s the worst Net Rating impact out of the entire team. The offense holds up pretty well with Thompson, just a minor -0.4 points per 100 possessions; defensively is where the bulk of Thompson’s negative impact appears to be coming from, giving up an extra 2.4 points. As always, remember that those are group ratings, influenced by the other four players sharing the court with Thompson… but the numbers do seem to match the eye test as Klay continues to find his bearings.
As he works through his return phase, the good times will outweigh the bad — something we’ve seen as recently as earlier this month, when he torched the Milwaukee Bucks for 38 efficient points, going 8 of 14 from deep with 6 rebounds and 5 assists. That Klay is still in there.
One way that Thompson’s evolved is that his shot distribution has undergone a fundamental shift. It may reflect the changing league as much as it says anything meaningful about Thompson, but for the first time in his career, Klay has taken more threes than two-pointers since he came back from injury.
Thompson is shooting well below his career average of 41.6% from deep, but his accuracy is improving. After a rough re-entry, he’s now up to a reasonable 36.1% — not elite by any stretch, but as rough as some of the games have been, Klay does indeed seem to be rounding into shape.
He’s sixth on the team when it comes to three-point percentage, and shooting an extremely high volume. Love it or hate it, the plan seems to be to shoot through the pain; check out the threes attempted, and made, per 100 possessions — Klay has been busy!
One truth of Thompson’s return is that it’s far from a stable orbit right now. He went nuclear against Milwaukee, but then mailed in some stinkers. There’s about three weeks left of the regular season, and the hope is that Thompson finds his groove by then.
When you step back and look at the 10-game rolling average of his shooting (via Cleaning the Glass), you can see just how unsteady his deep shooting has been:
With Curry’s absence, everyone is expected to do a little bit extra, Klay Thompson has to keep grinding and hope that he turns the corner soon.
The Warriors have taken a turn. Nothing but wins from here on out!