2019 NBA All-Star Game: Breaking down Klay Thompson's chances as reserve


2019 NBA All-Star Game: Breaking down Klay Thompson's chances as reserve

The Western Conference is a bloodbath.

You can tell from a quick glance at the NBA standings, where all but two teams in the West sit within five games of a playoff spot.

But perhaps nothing speaks to the talent level in the league's strongest conference more so than the annual list of players that miss out on an All-Star selection.

This year, that list may very well include Klay Thompson's name.

Steph Curry and Kevin Durant will start in the 2019 All-Star game in Charlotte. Draymond Green, as great as he's been the last few weeks, will not be hearing his name called when All-Star reserves are announced this Thursday.

That means that if the Warriors are going to have at least three All-Stars for the fourth consecutive year, all the eggs will be in Thompson's basket.

His numbers are plenty deserving: 21.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game on 46.2 percent shooting from the field and 37.9 percent from 3-point range. Those season-long averages obviously include his severe mid-December slump, however, which is well in the rearview mirror at this point.

Over the last 14 games -- more than a quarter of the season up to this point -- Thompson is shooting a blistering 53.0 percent from the field and 49.1 percent from beyond the arc.

Is that month-long surge enough to get Thompson selected as one of the seven Western Conference All-Star reserves? After all, it has included multiple 40-point performances and a record-setting display in which he made his first 10 threes in a single contest.

[RELATED: Klay was historically efficient in Dubs' blowout of Lakers]

"I think he's got a really good chance," coach Steve Kerr said of Thompson on Thursday, "but there's a lot of guys at that position, so we'll see."

Here's what we know so far: Curry, Durant, LeBron James, James Harden and Paul George will start. That leaves seven reserve spots available for a pool from the West that includes Thompson, Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Nikola Jokic, Rudy Gobert, Karl-Anthony Towns, LaMarcus Aldridge, DeMar DeRozan, C.J. McCollum, Russell Westbrook, Luka Doncic, Jrue Holiday, Danilo Gallinari, Tobias Harris, De'Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield.

Of those potential reserves, it's safe to assume that Davis -- assuming he's not traded to the East -- Jokic, Lillard and Gobert are locks. So we're down to three spots left.

Karl-Anthony Towns has been averaging more than 24 points and 12 rebounds per game for the Timberwolves for half the season. He's probably in.

Russell Westbrook can't hit water if he fell out of a boat so far this season, but he's still averaging a triple-double for the team with the third-best record in the conference. Don't expect him to get left out.

So, if the above assumptions are correct, we're down to one remaining spot.

Thompson's individual statistics measure up to just about everyone remaining on that list, and he certainly has the name recognition. The Warriors have the best record in the conference. Shouldn't that matter?

"We're in first place," Thompson said last week. "I feel like I deserve to be there, just because our performance the last five years at the top of the standings, that's not easy. I don't know how many times it's ever been done."

And if he doesn't get named an All-Star reserve?

"If I don't make it, it's not the end of the world," Thompson said. "I'll go to a beach and enjoy myself."

Somehow, that's not difficult to believe.

Warriors’ still-mounting injuries a big blow to young players’ development

Warriors’ still-mounting injuries a big blow to young players’ development

SAN FRANCISCO -- In the waning moments of the Warriors' latest loss Friday night, their bench resembled the front row of a fashion show more than a functioning NBA roster.

Toward the end of the bench, All-Star guard Stephen Curry sat in a black suit jacket, covering a massive cast protecting his broken left hand. To Curry's left, center Kevon Looney sat in a gray suit, his immediate future in peril as he continues to seek answers about an injured hamstring.

That type of visual has become commonplace over the last month.

Over that stretch, 11 Warriors players have been sidelined with injuries, crippling a roster that seemed armed with an outside shot of making the playoffs on opening night just three weeks ago.

The latest blow came Saturday morning, when an MRI confirmed that D'Angelo Russell had suffered a sprained thumb, sidelining him for at least two weeks. Over his previous six games, the guard had averaged 29.7 points on 48 percent shooting from the field, including a 52-point, nine-rebound performance against Minnesota, so his absence will be felt.

That's because the Warriors are in roster transition, marked by their youthful core.

When Jordan Poole and Eric Paschall were drafted in June, the expectation was that the rookies would be brought along slowly, learning behind Golden State's battered All-Star cast. The myriad injuries changed that, though, forcing both into more minutes than initially anticipated.

While Paschall has flourished in that spot (15.6 points and 4.6 rebounds in 30.8 minutes per game), Poole has struggled. Since Curry's injury in the fourth game of the season, Poole has shot 29 percent from the field, and he has hit just five of his last 28 shots over his last two contests.

The trickle-down effect started on the eve of training camp, when Warriors general manager Bob Myers announced that center Willie Cauley-Stein would miss most of October with a foot strain. Two days later, rookie Alen Smailagic rolled his ankle and Looney strained his hamstring in the same controlled scrimmage.

Last month, Curry broke his hand, sidelining the guard until at least February. Two nights later, forward Draymond Green tore a ligament in his left index finger. On Monday, two-way guard Damion Lee fractured his hand.

Amid all those injuries, Warriors coach Steve Kerr trotted out his ninth starting lineup of the season Friday, with two-way guard Ky Bowman at the point. For a moment, it worked.

Midway through the third quarter, Bowman intercepted a pass, ran cross court and dunked over Grant Williams, cutting the Celtics' lead to three. Two minutes later, Alec Burk stripped Boston guard Brandon Wanamaker, setting up a fast-break layup that gave Golden State a brief 82-80 lead before the Celtics rallied and held on in the fourth quarter.

The Warriors' current reality is much different than their immediate past. After winning 78 percent of their games over five years, they now find themselves with a roster that lost Kevin Durant to free agency, while Curry and Klay Thompson's rehabs are expected to last until at least February. Their 2-11 record is the NBA's worst.

[RELATED: How die-hard Warriors fans can stay optimistic]

Minutes after the final buzzer Friday, there were reminders of potential hopes lost. Curry's hand swelled out of his cast as he walked near a team official. In the locker room, Paschall sported an ice pack on his right hand, and Poole reconciled an ankle injury that he said wouldn't affect him.

As the Warriors packed for another road trip, potentially with just eight healthy bodies for the foreseeable future, another reminder that the team's development is coming at a hefty price was evident.

Warriors' D'Angelo Russell out at least two weeks with right thumb sprain


Warriors' D'Angelo Russell out at least two weeks with right thumb sprain

Add another one to the list.

After leaving Friday night’s loss to the Celtics with a thumb injury, an MRI has confirmed a right thumb sprain for All-Star guard D'Angelo Russell.

Russell will not travel with the team on the upcoming four-game road trip and will be re-evaluated in two weeks.

Golden State’s already lengthy injury report adds another name, as the team now stands with just nine healthy players as the team embarks for New Orleans on Saturday to kick off the trip.