Klay Thompson is past his prime. That much is clear. But the Dallas Mavericks clearly saw a ton of value in Thompson to the point of making him their top priority in free agency, signing him to a three-year, $50 million deal to presumably slot in as the team's starter at the small forward position.

Even in his declined state, Thompson remains confident in what he brings to the table for a Mavericks team that is hoping that the 34-year-old shooting guard is the missing piece to their championship puzzle. During his Mavs introductory press conference, Thompson fired a warning towards the rest of the NBA about what makes him a lethal piece to have alongside the dynamite backcourt of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving.

“At this point in my career, you still can't leave me open,” Thompson said, from CBS Sports via ClutchPoints Twitter (X).

Klay Thompson is nothing if not confident. Shooters make a living off thinking that they will be making the next shot they take, no exceptions, and this is the exact mindset that has made Thompson a future Hall of Famer even if one is basing solely off of his 13-year stint with the Golden State Warriors.

But beyond his elite floor-spacing potential and gravity on the perimeter, Thompson also knows what he can bring to the defensive end of the floor for the Mavericks. After all, he will have to approximate the defensive work Derrick Jones Jr. put in this past season.

“I can guard. I'm just excited. I still think I can still do what I've been able to do. It's just about being in the best shape I can possibly be. I know I can help this team whether it's the knowledge I've gained or big scoring nights. I still know I can be a very, very good player in this league,” Thompson added.

Given how poorly his Warriors stint ended, Klay Thompson has all the incentive in the world to try and prove his detractors wrong.

Klay Thompson will rediscover his joy on the Mavericks

Given the reputation Klay Thompson has built for himself with the Warriors, it was downright disheartening to see how much he struggled throughout the 2023-24 season. Thompson was the most inconsistent he has been in his career, and he was as prone to terrible shooting nights as he has ever been. Relative to how much he was making, which affects his standing on the team as well as his role in the offense, Thompson was a disappointment.

Thompson's final game as a Warriors player is simply heartbreaking to watch; he went scoreless after going 0-10 from the field — his worst game as a professional. He did not beat the washed allegations at all with that putrid performance. In the end, all the negative emotions surrounding Thompson and his poor play became too much for either party to bear, and it led to his eventual departure for the Mavericks in free agency.

It's difficult to envision a more ideal scenario for Klay Thompson than landing with the Mavericks as he looks to age more gracefully. For one, he doesn't have to be one of the primary options on offense, nor does he have to do much of creating his own shots. Last season with the Warriors, Thompson definitely had to do a lot more dribbling than usual. With the Mavs, he may not have to touch the ball other than when he has to shoot it.

Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving handled a rough estimate of about 99 percent of the Mavericks' playmaking and shot-creating duties last season, and road it as their recipe to success. Due to Doncic and Irving's elite three-level scoring ability, the Mavericks were able to overcome the Western Conference gauntlet by surrounding them with defense-first players.

In the NBA Finals, however, the Mavericks ran out of steam, with the eventual champion Boston Celtics more than content to play the numbers and let Derrick Jones Jr., PJ Washington, and the rest of the Mavs' meh shooters to launch shots from deep. They did not make enough shots to give Doncic and Irving more space to work with; now, imagine the space those two stars will have when those defenders will have to stay glued to a third guy on the court in Thompson?

Fans may be laughing at Thompson and his seemingly misplaced confidence. But Thompson shot 38.1 percent from deep on 7.1 catch-and-shoot attempts per game last season — a huge upgrade over Jones' 34.8 percent on three attempts per game in the regular season (37.1 percent on 2.8 attempts in the playoffs). His reputation also carries with it a certain kid of fear from opposing coaches, which is valuable in matters of floor-spacing.