While we all acknowledge that Klay Thompson is one of the best shooters the NBA has ever seen, no one could’ve predicted he’d start this year hitting only 13.9% of his three’s through seven games. But everyone knew it was only a matter of time until he went off, and against the Bulls last night, he was nothing short of nuclear.
Two years ago Klay had a similar poor start to the season, and in my video back then, I detailed how his feet would parachute out as he landed after the release. As soon as he stopped doing that, his percentage went right to his usual 40%. This year, he seems to have adopted a wide leg stance on the way up to his jump. While it looks problematic to me, it didn’t seem to affect him one bit against the Bulls.
Klay Thompson left no doubt he was on fire to start the game, hitting 6 of his first 7 shots. This was a simple corner ball screen, stepping back on the hop in the right corner- when the defense didn’t switch aggressively enough, he dropped it right through the rim.
Zach LaVine was in pretty good position to prevent the use of the pin down and to then lock and trail if Thompson cut across the court. Klay uses an arm to propel himself off the screen and influence LaVine into the screen, no one can get nearly close enough in time, and another drop by lifting both feet in the air and landing with one sound on the catch. Notice the wider than usual stance as he quick releases the triple in LaVine’s face.
Like I always say, if you want to get your shooter open, have him set a screen first – preferably a back screen. On the switch, Holiday walks right into the Damion Jones screen and when he’s this wide open, it’s like a layup.
In transition, the Bulls try to matchup and it’s Jabari Parker’s turn, being the farthest away from the ball, to pick up Klay. He simply cannot have both feet in the lane at the midline as the pass is being thrown even though he does make a nice recovery to contest in the air, Klay is too good for that- calmly side stepping, then ignoring the swipe from the side of his head, and just swishing another jumper.
It’s heat check time as clearly Klay wants to find out how hot he really is. Look how much room LaVine is giving him as Klay drops into another perfect rhythm distance three.
Watch how Klay uses a change of pace coming across the court, helping him get a step. To make matter worse, LaVine cheats and tries to shoot the gap, which merely gets him completely out of position and gives up a lick-my-thumb-and-check-the-wind-I’m-so-open shot from the left wing.
Thompson has the benefit of playing in one of the most clever and motion filled offenses in the NBA, and he’s a big part why it moves as much as it does. He Sprints around a left wing pin down, Curls through the lane, and never stops moving. As Draymond collapses the defense, he hits a wide open Klay who easily drills the shorter three in the corner.
At this point, we’re starting to wonder if he’s got a shot at Curry’s record of 13 in a game. If the Bulls want to switch this, it’s poor communication as Holiday is 3 steps too late, and Klay smoothly launches another bomb from behind the arc.
A big key to getting open in the corners is to drive the ball, kick it out, and then immediately replace yourself behind the three point arc. Draymond spots him open and unfazed by the in air close out. It’s not easy to see what happens on this shot, but Curry sets a good pin down, Klay quick releases it as his defender is helpless to get a hand up and the record for 3’s looks like it’s going down.
The Warriors turn to their bread and butter , the low post spit -which, you’d think, would be defended better after so many years running it. Curry sets the simple cross screen, there is no switch, and LaVine is left flailing at him to no avail.
At this point, we got headband Klay Thompson after he butted heads with Damian Jones and needed 2 stitches to close the gash.
With only one three left to break the record, everybody was looking for him – including the guy who at this point, held the record for threes in a game. A nifty lefty hook pass gets Klay a sliver of daylight, and Cameron Payne just doesn’t close out tight enough here.
With the chance to break Curry’s record for 3’s in a game, he went on a bit of splurge. I like being the first ball screener, then using the second ball screen as a pick to get open.
It felt like this one would do it on the break, and he got a good look, but it was off just to the right.
Then it got fancy as Steph throws him a nifty behind the back pass on the break, but two players close on him hard and he double pumps, ruins all his rhythm, and bricks the shot.
Draymond Green waves people out of the way and is intent on finding Klay no matter what. Off the double staggered pin down, nobody on defense calls out a switch or help or anything, and he can take his time, find the rhythm, but shockingly, can’t get the shot to go down.
But now that they had gotten those misses out of their systems, it was time to break the record once and for all, then sit since the score was so out of hand. And the record breaker came on a simple pin down from Steph, when he lifts his both feet as if to hop into the shot, but splits them instead, dribbles once, and then releases the shot heard round the world.
Without question, considering he broke the record in only 27 minutes, we’re going to see someone hit more than 14 three point baskets sooner than later. IN fact, it’s most likely going to be Klay himself who breaks this record, and with the way the league is going now- I suspect even the new record won’t last.