OAKLAND – Klay Thompson neither ran nor hid from his struggles this season, which were on particularly graphic display last Friday in Los Angeles, where the Warriors were obliterated by the Lakers.
“I’m pretty sure it was the worst game I’ve ever played against the Lakers,” Thompson told CSNBayArea.com after shootaround Monday, hours before tipoff against the New Orleans Pelicans.
“But I know it’s going to get better starting with tonight.”
Thompson’s history suggests it will get much better. The two-time All-Star was indeed downright awful against the Lakers, the team he grew up admiring and, once in the NBA, generally roasted – particularly when in Los Angeles.
That was not the case Friday, when Thompson’s 4-of-18 shooting and languid defense stood out even among a woeful team performance. When his shot is not falling, Thompson typically makes amends on the defensive end. Not so on Friday.
“He’s obviously in a little bit of a funk,” coach Steve Kerr said. “It can’t affect his defense. It can’t affect his rebounding. And I thought it did the other night.”
Still, the most startling aspect through the first six games for Thompson is his errant shooting. Never has he shot so many bricks and airballs in such a short period of time. He’s shooting 38.4 percent from the field; his career percentage is 45.0. He’s shooting 19.6 percent from beyond the arc; his career percentage is 42.0.
“I’ve been in this league too long to let a bad shooting spell affect my game,” Thompson said. “Obviously at times, it’s frustrating. But you just grind through it. All it takes is a few good makes and you’re right back. I still have plenty of time to figure it out. But I’m going to figure it out.”
Thanks largely to the production of newly acquired star Kevin Durant – averaging 30.0 points per game on 59.3 percent shooting – Thompson’s slump hasn’t been particularly painful in the overall scheme of things. He shot poorly as the Warriors were winning four in a row prior to losing at LA.
But after an impressive preseason and with so much global attention on the Warriors, Thompson’s misses have become a talking point – as has his reaction to them. Notoriously hard on himself, he’s finding it difficult to conceal his frustration.
“I realize everyone is human,” he said. “Nothing is going to come easy. I can be hard on myself, but that’s why I developed into the player I am.”
And, please, don’t even insinuate that Durant’s arrival is a factor.
“It has nothing to do with Kevin,” Thompson said, pointing out that he had a slow start last season, when he exceeded 20 points only three times in the first five weeks and didn’t have a 30-point game until Dec. 8.
Thompson said he that will find his stroke by coming into the facility at night and putting up extra shots. And by watching clips of the strong games he has had against the next opponent, in this instance New Orleans.
While Kerr has taken note – how could he not? – the coach also remains staunchly confident in Thompson.
“Like all shooters, he’s had plenty of stretches in his career and over four or five games where shots just didn’t go in,” Kerr said. “He started out last year pretty poorly. It took him about 20 games to get going.
“So a slow start is not anything dramatic for Klay. Maybe it’s a little surprising because he had a brilliant preseason. He’s gotten himself in a little bit of a rut. He’ll get himself out of it. I’m not concerned about that.”