SAN DIEGO – Klay Thompson declined on Tuesday to get into a word competition with Bucks guard Jason Terry.
Figures. Thompson believes much more in competition than in conversation.
In a recent SiriusXM NBA Radio interview, Terry described Thompson as not a great player but a “B-side” player, a member of a team’s supporting cast.
Never mind that Thompson’s shooting has put him in the NBA record book. Never mind that Thompson is a two-time All-Star and a member of the U.S. Olympic team, which won a gold medal in August.
Asked about it after the Warriors practiced at UC-San Diego, Thompson expressed zero interest in Terry’s belief.
“My concern is really not trying to prove to Jason Terry I’m an elite superstar,” Thompson said. “It’s to do everything I can to help this team win ballgames.”
Thompson has done a better job of that each season, raising his scoring average and shooting percentages every season since his rookie year in 2011-12, last season reaching 22.1 points per game on 47.0-percent shooting. He also defends well enough to be among the league’s 10 best two-way players.
Yet he tends to be dismissed, and some of it may be his own reticence.
Klay Thompson plays his horn. He does not “blow” his horn.
Here’s an example: Asked on Tuesday about the startling rise in the Warriors’ national popularity the past couple years, Thompson cited two of his teammates.
“It’s globally, as well,” he said, “especially when you’ve got star power like Kevin Durant and Steph Curry on the team.”
Star power. Kevin Durant. Steph Curry.
Not Klay Thompson.
This may be the year that changes, even with Durant and Curry wearing the same jersey. Thompson’s stint with Team USA served as a springboard to what has been an impressive training camp and preseason.
“He came into camp in great shape, which I’m sure was because of his workouts and games with the Olympic team,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s well ahead of where he was at this time last year.”
Thompson through five preseason games leads the Warriors in scoring (19.6 per game) and his shooting 58.3 percent, including 48.6 percent beyond the arc. He has made all 10 of his free throws.
The addition of Durant could create even more open space, and Thompson likely will get cleaner looks that benefit one of the quickest releases in the league.
Not that Jason Terry – who also cited Spurs star Kawhi Leonard as a “B-side” player – would notice.
And not that Thompson would care about what Terry or anyone beyond the Warriors might think.
“Everyone is entitled to their opinion,” he said. “At the end of the day, I go out there and play my hardest. To some people I can be a great player, a good player or an average player. It doesn’t matter.”