Warriors

2011 NBA re-draft: Should Warriors' Klay Thompson have been No. 2 pick?

Warriors

Programming note: Watch the re-air of Klay Thompson making an NBA-record 14 3-pointers vs. the Chicago Bulls tonight at 8 p.m. PT on NBC Sports Bay Area.

The Warriors selected Klay Thompson with the No. 11 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft (don't ever forget that the Sacramento Kings took Jimmer Fredette at No. 10).

But if we re-drafted that class, would Klay be the second player off the board?

Kawhi Leonard -- who went No. 15 to the Indiana Pacers and then was traded to the San Antonio Spurs -- practically would be the unanimous choice for No. 1 overall. 

The guy is a two-time NBA Finals MVP, two-time Defensive Player of the Year and is in the conversation for best player in the NBA.

So then who are the choices for the No. 2 overall pick?

In addition to Klay, we have Kyrie Irving (who went No. 1), Kemba Walker (who went No. 9) and Jimmy Butler (who went No. 30).

"I have Jimmy Butler slightly ahead of Klay Thompson," NBC Sports Bay Area's Logan Murdock said. "I think that Klay Thompson is a great player, but a great player for the Warriors. He's great because he has Steph Curry alongside him and that's a big part.

"He doesn't have to be the best player on the floor."

Logan definitely isn't alone with this assessment. Klay certainly benefits from Steph's impact, and over the years people have wondered how the Washington State product would fare if he was the No. 1 scoring option on a different team.

 

But he's not. He's a Splash Brother and we can't fault him for that, right? He simply has made the most of his situation and turned himself into one of the 20 best players in the NBA.

"Steph has made Klay better. But I think Klay has made Steph better," NBC Sports Bay Area's Greg Papa said.

That absolutely is true and there's nothing wrong with that. It's what should happen in a team sport like basketball.

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As for Butler -- he is a five-time All-Star, four-time All-Defensive Second-Team selection and has been named All-NBA Third-Team twice. He is a better playmaker and rebounder than Klay, and gets to the free-throw line a lot more.

Some people would argue that if you swapped Butler for Klay, the Warriors wouldn't miss a beat. I would disagree with that take.

Klay is a career 42 percent 3-point shooter on 7.0 attempts per game, while Butler is at 33.3 percent on 2.6 attempts per game. He shot below 25 percent from deep this season with the Miami Heat.

In the modern NBA, 3-point shooting is incredibly important. And the three-time NBA champion arguably is the second-best shooter in NBA history.

Additionally, Thompson has turned himself into a force on the defensive end. He does a fantastic job against bigger players in the post, and can make life very difficult for the elite scoring guards on any given night.

"Klay's ability to guard the ball at 6-foot-7 (is so valuable)," Papa explained. "Yes, he's a great shooter with the picture-perfect form ... Kawhi is a better defender than Klay, but I'm gonna say it's close because Klay is that good on the ball defensively. 

"Those are the two best players in the draft."

Ultimately, the Klay vs. Butler debate is subjective and comes down to personal preference. But when you factor in everything -- and you can't ignore how Klay is considered "no maintenance," while Butler has been a part of some highly-publicized drama -- I'm rolling with Klay.

Speaking of drama ... what about Kyrie? 

[RELATED: How one early incident taught Kerr not to yell at Klay]

He is a six-time All-Star, was All-NBA Third-Team in 2014-15 and All-NBA Second-Team in 2018-19 and hit the game-winning 3-pointer over Steph in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals.

 

Kyrie is the best ball-handler in the league, can be unguardable at times and just is insanely skilled.

But he brings undeniable baggage to the table and is quite injury prone. If the selection was based on pure talent alone, Kyrie would get the nod.

But NBA general managers have to factor in way more than that, and it would be understandable if some (if not the majority) went with Klay instead (it's safe to assume Kevin Durant disagrees).

Once again, there is no right answer and you can make strong cases for all three players (sorry Kemba).

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