May 30, 2024

How benching a former All-Star helps the Warriors The Klay Thompson

The Golden State Warriors are now in 11th place in the Western Conference after dropping four of their previous five games. Coach Steve Kerr made a significant move by moving veteran Andrew Wiggins to the bench in favor of rookie Brandin Podziemski, as the starting lineup was having trouble and Draymond Green was facing an indefinite suspension. Green was replaced by third-year forward Jonathan Kuminga.

Klay Thompson, whose shooting has been patchy this year, might be the main winner. Thompson was the league leader in three-point field goals made during the previous season, but his percentage has decreased from 41.2 percent to 36.4 percent, and he now only makes 2.9 threes per game as opposed to 4.4 last year.

Why does he act like this? The lack of spacing with the starters is a major contributing factor. With 94 percent of his shots falling within ten feet of the rim, center Kevon Looney hardly ever shoots unless he is in close proximity to the basket. Although Green is shooting 42.9 percent from three this season, opponents don’t respect his three-point shot, which he has made less than 32 percent of the time in his career.

When Wiggins was a reliable three-point shooter, the Warriors could get past their spacing problems, but this is the worst shooting season of his career. At the halfway point of the season, he was making just over 25% of his three-pointers and his percentage from beyond the arc was 13%. This implies that three Warriors starters can be treated by defenses as non-shooters, which will make it difficult for Thompson to make shots.

Thompson’s shooting and passing were made possible by Podziemski’s additional shooting threat on Thursday night. In a defeat to the Los Angeles Clippers, he made eight three-pointers and provided five assists.

Kerr might not be done upending the status quo. The team may try Dario Saric at the five to further boost the starting lineup’s offense and add another passing option to find Thompson on the perimeter, given that Looney is turning the ball over almost twice as often as he did the previous year and shooting a career-worst 64.3 percent from three feet of the basket.

What’s causing Wiggins’ slump is unknown. It could be the result of last season’s rib injury and inadequate conditioning. The health concerns of his father may be taking his mind, but the Warriors will match up Thompson and Steph Curry with a shooter until he can get his shot back. Either that or nobody will be able to watch the playoffs.

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