Back in 2016, CJ McCollum listed Klay Thompson as one of his “Elite Guards”. The Blazer swingman gave the Warriors sharpshooter some huge compliments while breaking down his game from the 2016 season.
Klay Thompson is one of the best shooters the game has ever witnessed. Due to his incredible ability to consistently knock down shots from any spot on the hardwood, Thompson is usually very heavily guarded throughout the course of the game. Oh and the best part… he has the firepower to erupt for a 40-point performance on efficient shooting while only dribbling the ball 9-10 times, on any given day.
Portland swingman CJ McCollum is one of the many defenders who has tried, and failed, stopping Klay from going on a shooting rampage. Back in 2016, McCollum named the 3-time Champ as one of the “Elite Guards” in his “The Players’ Tribune” article. CJ gave some huge praises to the 6-foot-6 guard.
“The first thing about Klay is that he moves really well off the ball. He doesn’t dribble a lot, but he moves efficiently and puts himself in great positions to catch-and-shoot. I’d rank Klay and J.J. Reddick as the top two scorers in the NBA without dribbling. Both guys have mastered off-ball movement and the ability to find open areas while using screens and relocating off the bounce.
Klay is hunting shots at all times, and he’s a master of getting defensive switches. Why is a defensive switch a problem against Klay? Because he only needs a half-second of confusion to rise up and get his shot off. On any given possession, he might run through multiple screens until he gets to his desired spot on the floor. This puts defenders in a tough position, because they have to be mentally engaged at all times, not just when Klay has the ball in his hands.”
Apart from lauding Klay Thompson, CJ McCollum also breaks down the sharpshooter’s performance from the 2016 season
After dishing out such huge praises, the Blazers star even broke down Klay’s performances from the 2015-16 season.
“How much time does he need to exploit a defender? Let’s watch. (Note: first two clips aren’t from the playoffs because I want to show a specific point).
Here, Klay calls for the screen with his right hand. The defender kind of relaxes for a split second, anticipating the pick coming. So what does Klay do? He takes advantage of that momentary lapse and pulls up. His release is so quick that the defender doesn’t have a chance.
Watch that clip again and notice Klay’s eyes. He sells it so well because he’s not looking at the hoop until he’s already in the air.
Now let’s zoom in a little closer and look at his movement off the ball. Watch him at the bottom of the screen here.
Three things to notice:
1. Klay uses DeMarcus Cousins as an inadvertent screen to break away from his defender.
2. Then he uses Draymond as a second screen, causing his defender to lose another half-step trying to get around him. None of this is planned. Klay’s vision allows him to use defenders’ bodies as natural screens.
3. Despite all that movement, this is the NBA, so the shot is still contested. Klay catches and shoots all in one smooth motion.
No hesitation. Whap. That’s confidence and reps right there. Klay doesn’t even have to look at the basket before he elevates because he’s practiced turning and shooting from that spot thousands of times.
One big point I want everyone to understand: The reason it’s so tough to guard a guy like Klay, especially in a playoff series over multiple games, is because you have to expend so much energy on the defensive end. You’re constantly moving, so even if you play great D and freeze him out for a possession, you’re running back down on offense a little more gassed than if you were guarding a player who stands in the corner or over-dribbles.
Remember, this offense/defense energy formula applies to Klay, too. That’s what’s so impressive about him. He’s often guarding the best player on the other team. He’s given the toughest assignment and is still able to carry the load offensively.”
CJ McCollum, considered to be a top defender in today’s league, has actually summed it up pretty well. Klay Thompson is a generational type player who was and will continue to be a pain for any defender who tries to guard him.