Klay Thompson richly deserving of NBA All-Defensive team consideration


Klay Thompson richly deserving of NBA All-Defensive team consideration

OAKLAND – Indiana’s Victor Oladipo played 36 games before he was taken out of the race with a serious injury and San Antonio’s Dejounte Murray will miss play at all this season.

Philadelphia’s Jimmy Butler moved from guard to forward, so he can’t be considered.

Insofar as Oladipo, Murray and Butler accounted for three of the four guards selected last season for NBA All-Defensive teams, there is no legitimate reason one of those vacancies shouldn’t be filled by Klay Thompson, who never has received that honor.

“It’s always been a goal of mine,” Thompson said Thursday after shootaround. “I pride myself on playing both sides of the ball and that would be awesome, to make All-Defensive team before it’s all said and done.”

Thompson’s greatest asset on defense is on-ball pressure. He routinely is assigned to the opponent’s most dangerous guard, regardless of defined position. If it’s Oklahoma City, he gets point guard Russell Westbrook. If it’s Utah, he gets shooting guard Donovan Mitchell. If it’s Houston, he gets combo guard James Harden. He takes turns against the likes of Damian Lillard and Kyrie Irving, as well as DeMar DeRozan.

And Thompson wins more than his share of matchups. Harden is shooting 39.7 percent against the Warriors this season. Mitchell is at 28.2 percent. Westbrook is at 22.6 percent.

Performances like that, against stars who dominate the ball, have put Thompson on the radar of voters at a much higher level than in years past.

“It is nice to be talked about in a good light,” Thompson said. “But at the end of the day, the love from media and the fans can be fickle just because it’s so game-to-game. We live in a time where it’s kind of ‘What have you done for me lately?’ So you can’t get caught up in the love right now because the end goal is far from that.”

If Thompson has been hurt by anything in the past it is the lack of basic metrics. But even those are improving. He’s fifth among shooting guards in steals (1.18 per game) after ranking 35th (0.75) last season and fourth among shooting guards in blocks (0.64 per game) after finishing 10th (0.47) last season.

The question is whether that’s enough to land a spot on the All-Defensive team.

“I’m not a steals guy,’ he said. “But we have to have some great defenders on this team. We’ve been in first place for four out of five frickin’ years. We’ve got to have some great defenders. It’s not just all offense with this team. We’ve got some great guys that play that side of the ball.”

Oladipo last year was named to the NBA All-Defensive first team, with Murray and Butler making the second team. The only healthy guard eligible for a repeat selection is New Orleans’ Jrue Holiday, whose chances will be hurt by his team’s poor season.

Among those vying for spots this season are Toronto’s Danny Green and Patrick Beverley of the Clippers. Milwaukee’s Malcolm Brogdon has been terrific but likely will miss the final month of the season.

[RELATED: Andrew Bogut shares Klay Thompson's reaction seeing him for first time]

So this should be, the year Thompson finally makes the NBA All-Defensive team, first on merit but also on attrition.

Warriors' Steve Kerr makes odd request of Steph Curry in NBA playoffs

Warriors' Steve Kerr makes odd request of Steph Curry in NBA playoffs

OAKLAND — Steve Kerr’s latest request of Steph Curry is short, simple and initially puzzling: Let ‘em score.

Three words, easily understood, but completely against the competitive instincts of an elite NBA player conditioned to accept defense as an essential part of the game.

Kerr isn’t telling Curry to neglect defense. Rather, the coach is advising his superstar to weigh his overall value to the Warriors in the NBA playoffs against the significance of committing fouls in hopes of preventing two points.

“Sometimes, he just gets in the habit of trying to strip the ball,” Kerr said Tuesday after practice. “So, more than anything, it’s just about trying to get him past that habit. I keep telling him how valuable he is. I’d much rather he just got out of the guy’s way and gave him a layup and kept playing.

“He’s much more valuable than two points. And we’ve got plenty of help; our defense is predicated on help.”

This, in the big picture, makes sense. While the Warriors seek to close out the Clippers in Game 5 of their first-round series Wednesday, advancing likely means getting a dose of potent Houston.

Anyone care to imagine Curry on the bench with foul trouble against the Rockets?

Curry’s impact against Los Angeles was neutralized by foul trouble in Games 3 and 4. Though having him on the bench for long stretches, saddled with foul trouble, is not ideal in this series, it would invite disaster should the Warriors advance and face Houston.

After committing four or more fouls just four times over the final 27 games of the regular season, Curry has been whistled at least that often in every game against LA. Picking up five fouls in Game 3, including his fourth early in the third quarter, limited him to 20 minutes.

So Curry, prior to Game 4, put a message on his shoes, “No Reach” -- a reminder to avoid a tendency that usually is his quickest route to foul trouble.

“I have confidence in my hand-eye coordination and hand speed,” Curry said. “That’s how I get steals usually, by being quick. But that’s how I get fouls, too, so I’ve got to balance both of them.

“The ones I’ve had trouble with in this series are ones that I shouldn’t even be in that situation to begin with. There’s help behind the play. I’m not even involved in the play, really. I’m just kind of lunging at it. That’s just a lack of focus.

“We could nitpick each one of them and understand exactly why. But at the end of the day, I’ve got to continue to stay on the floor on our normal rotations and not foul.”

There was progress in Game 4 insofar as Curry generally avoided reaching. And when he committed his third foul with 4:16 left in the first half, Kerr stayed with him.

Curry rewarded the coach by playing the rest of the half and the entire third quarter without a whistle. He played 35 minutes, committing four fouls.

Moreover, the Warriors won both games.

[RELATED: Beverley explains why he doesn't talk trash to Curry]

“If he’s got a couple fouls already, he should be able to play with those fouls,” Kerr said. “I’ve always trusted him. Since I’ve been here, I’ve generally played him with two fouls in the first half or three in the third quarter. I believe in letting a guy go, letting him play, a star player like that especially. The second half was a great sign that he’s kind of made it past that habit.”

The Warriors would like to think so.

They’d like to believe that building better habits in this series will make them stronger in the next one. History has shown they are strongest with Curry on the floor.

Richard Jefferson offers opinion on Kevin Durant's comments about media

Richard Jefferson offers opinion on Kevin Durant's comments about media

Programming note: Watch the pregame edition of Warriors Outsiders on Wednesday night at 6, streaming live on the MyTeams app.

Richard Jefferson gets paid to talk about basketball and express his opinions.

Over the last couple of years, he hasn't shied away from discussing his feelings about the Warriors and/or Kevin Durant.

On Tuesday, he was a guest on ESPN's show "The Jump" and KD's recent comments about the media was obviously a topic of conversation.

"You go back and look at the history of the game -- Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, the amount of pressure that they had to save this league; Michael Jordan, no player to me has ever had so much weight on his shoulders; then you go forward to Kobe Bryant after the post-Jordan era; then all of a sudden Kobe kind of faded away because LeBron James was in the prime of his career.

"If you want that 'Best player, I'm going to be the guy to hold this league down the next five years' (title), you need to be able to handle this better than how he (Durant) has," Jefferson said. "We need you, the game of basketball needs you to be better at this."

So what did KD say exactly?

“They need me. If I wasn’t a free agent, none of this s--t would go on, right?" the reigning two-time Finals MVP told NBC Sports Bay Area's Logan Murdock. “ None of this speculation about who I am, what’s wrong with my mental, why I’m miserable, why I ain’t happy with life. Nothing.”

Last summer, Durant elected to sign another "1+1" contract with the Warriors in order to maintain flexibility and possess the option to become a free agent again this summer. Ever since, there has been rampant speculation about his future and incessant discussion about his state of mind.

Back in mid-November, Steph Curry said: "With how active our guys are on social media, it’s hard not to see that stuff. But it tests your character, makes you figure out how to compartmentalize stuff. Either you take it as entertainment or you get influenced by it. Whatever you think, however you are in real life, in terms of how impressionable you are, how insecure you might be, how confident in yourself you might be, that’ll all reflect in how you handle it.”

Things boiled over for Durant in early February when the 10-time All-Star broke his silence and lashed out at the media following the Warriors' win over the Spurs.

[RELATEDJerry West believes Warriors' weak point is very obvious]

Jefferson has the utmost respect for KD the basketball player, but believes he needs to tweak his approach to reporters.

"I think he's on the Mount Rushmore of this generation," Jefferson added. "But make no mistake, the game of basketball -- which has provided for me, all of us, all of our families and his -- needs him to be able to handle this better because that's what the title of 'king' means.

"When you are the king, when you are No. 1, that means you have a ton more responsibility that you have to handle or you're not fit for that."

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