Rookie Thompson quick to impress Warriors' brass, if not NBA

618554.jpg

Rookie Thompson quick to impress Warriors' brass, if not NBA

Joe Lacob, owner of the Warriors, said before the season that he believed Klay Thompson was going to win the Rookie of the Year award. Mark Jackson, coach of the Warriors, said he believes Thompson will be an elite NBA shooting guard.As for Thompson, he just keeps plugging away.There is a little bit (of pressure), but I enjoy it, Thompson said of the expectations. Thats why Im at this level. Thats why I expect it and its part of the job. Id rather have that pressure than not have it and not have the ability.So, Im just thankful for it and Ill keep working. And if I stay humble, Ill get there someday.

You could make a case that Thompson already has made some significant strides. After playing both sparingly and tentatively early in the season, Thompson has found his confidence and his perimeter shot.Before Wednesday nights game against Portland, Thompson had connected on 14 of his previous 19 3-pointers. He also hit one of the biggest shots of the season a 3-pointer with nine seconds left to send a game into overtime at Sacramento on Feb. 4.Hes one of the leagues best 3-point shooters, ranked fourth, shooting 48.1 percent.If I didnt think he was capable of it, I would be, but Im not concerned about that, Jackson said about praising Thompson. Hes a heck of a player already. And he forces you to play him more and more when hes out there. Everything about him says winning so Im not concerned with pressure on him.Hes a heck of a player and we were fortunate to get him when we got him. We had our eyes on him all the time and he has not disappointed.In just 26 games, Thompson has proven himself to be a terrific shooter. Hes got a quick release and may be the teams best catch-and-shoot guy. The next step for Thompson is to use that deadly shot as a foundation to his game and begin to build off it.How can he do that? Heres how:Just being more aggressive off the bounce, Thompson said. I think I have the ability to get to the rim. I just have to pick my spots and do it more often, thats all. I shot a lot of free throws in college, but this is a different level. I just have to work on that.Thompsons improvement this season has made some wonder if he can eventually be the full-time starter at shooting guard. Of course, that would make you wonder about another question, and that would be: Then what would you do about Monta Ellis?As optimistic as Lacob and Jackson are about Thompson, general manager Larry Riley is taking a more subtle approach.Sometimes you take the conservative route, Riley said. You say, OK, lets protect ourselves here a little bit. Lets not say too much. But I want to tell you, hes on track to become a really good player and the skys the limit. Development in a player is very difficult to predict and its one of those kinds of things where he is developing. What his limits are, were not certain. But we certainly like his chances.Thompsons role might be getting bigger for the Warriors, but it wasnt large enough for the league to take notice. Thompson was passed over for the Rising Stars challenge game and the 3-point shooting contest at the upcoming All-Star weekend.I was disappointed I wasnt in that rookie game, Thompson said. Thats all right. Ill just have a chip on my shoulder and keep coming to the gym, getting up shots and working on my game.That practice is already paying off. As the season wears on, Thompson is getting more and more productive. Hes scored in double-figures in four of the past six games and had a career-high 19 points in a road win over Denver last week.Yet even as Thompson makes more frequent and bigger contributions, he remains low-key about it all.Hes earned those minutes, Jackson said. Hes a guy who comes to practice early, leaves late, doesnt take days off. He works his tail off and isnt afraid of the moment. Hell shoot with three seconds left in the game the same way hes going to shoot the first three minutes of a game. It doesnt bother him.

Curry blames weatherman for career-worst 0-for-11 from 3-point range

Curry blames weatherman for career-worst 0-for-11 from 3-point range

In the wake of a 119-108 Warriors win over the 76ers Monday night in Philadelphia, Stephen Curry had a ready explanation for his 0-of-11 shooting 3-point distance.

He didn’t properly account for the change in weather.

“The weatherman said it’s like a low-pressure system that was coming in (and) I forgot to adjust to the thickness of the air,” he told reporters at Wells Fargo Center.

Curry’s comment may open to interpretation, but it was clear his sense of humor remained intact even after a career-worst shooting night beyond the arc.

He wasn’t the only Warrior finding it difficult to score from deep. Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green combined to go 5-of-20. The Warriors were 6-of-29 from deep, their second-lowest total of the season.

“It’s weird,” he said. “Not to discredit anything they did. The first half we had a lot of open looks that didn’t go in. Klay made a couple down the stretch. KD made one. Draymond made one from the corner.

“Other than that we still took really good shots that didn’t go in. But for us to still have moxie to withstand that and still pretty much have the lead the whole game and allow our defense to get us a win tonight was kind of our M.O.”

Given that Curry owns the single-game record for triples (13) as well as the single-season record (402), it was most alarming that he couldn’t find at least one. And he had opportunities.

“It happens but you have to try and find other ways to impact the game,” he said. “I was trying to get to the paint a little bit more and just try to make plays. One thing is I don’t get down on myself. Obviously, that’s why I got 11 of them up. I still have confidence the next one is going in and that will stay the same tomorrow.”

The Warriors face the Wizards Tuesday in Washington. In Curry’s last appearance at the Verizon Center, last Feb. 3, he went for 51 points. He was 11-of-15 from deep.

“What I love about Steph is he went 0-11 tonight from three but you wouldn’t know it if you looked at his face,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He never loses confidence; he never hangs his head. It is a sign of a guy with ultimate confidence in his ability and the awareness that it is one of those nights.

“He is likely to come out tomorrow and make about seven in a row at some point. So that’s what I love about Steph. He keeps playing.”

 

Draymond hits personal reset button, sets tone in win over 76ers

Draymond hits personal reset button, sets tone in win over 76ers

In the hours before tipoff Monday night, Warriors coach Steve Kerr fielded questions about Draymond Green, who not only played well beneath his standard in the previous game but also exhibited a couple flashes of temper, including one directed at Kerr.

“He had one of those nights; it just wasn’t his night,” Kerr told reporters in Philadelphia. “Things didn’t go his way. He was frustrated. I’m very confident that tonight he’ll bounce back.”

Yes, he did. One game after allowing his emotions to undermine the best of his game, Green pushed his personal reset button and drove the Warriors to 119-108 victory over the 76ers.

It was a rather predictable performance insofar as Green generally responds to poor games by making a statement of his strength.Or, should we say, strengths.

Though the numbers -- 14 points, 11 assists, six rebounds, five steals, a plus-22 over 37 minutes -- tell a significant story, Green’s impact, as usual, extended beyond statistics. He set a strong positive tone, and when he does that it can offset subpar performances by his teammates.

“We’ve got a lot of guys who can play,” Kerr said afterward. “So on a night like tonight, where Steph (Curry) doesn’t have it going, we’ve got plenty of other guys who can score and make plays and a lot of them came through.

“I thought Draymond was really the player of the game. He just brought incredible energy and set a good tone right from the beginning of the game.”

On a night when Stephen Curry’s shot abandoned him (0-of-11 from deep, 7-of-23 overall), Green scrambled to provide whatever was needed, when it was needed. He was particularly adept at setting his teammates, as evidenced by his game-high assists total.

“One guy can’t do it every night,” Green told reporters. “Two guys can’t do it every night. Sometimes, it’s got to be a complete team effort. Tonight, it was that.”

The Warriors shot 41.7 percent through the first three quarters and 44.9 for the game. The Sixers battled them to a virtual standoff on the glass. The Warriors got by mostly with free throws (33-of-39) and Green’s effort and smarts.

That Green is a difference-maker in unconventional ways, often beyond the box score, is what makes him unique.

And it’s what makes it easier to cope with those nights when he’s as much of a headache to his team as the opponent, as was the case Saturday, when was 1-of-10 from the field, had more turnovers (three) than assists (two) unleashed some frustrations.

“Draymond’s value to us is his defense and rebounding and basketball IQ and intensity,” Kerr said before the game. “His shot is going to come and go. He’s going to have games where he makes some threes. He’s going to have games where he doesn’t. But it really doesn’t matter to me. What matters to me is everything else that he does for us. That’s where his real value comes in.”

Kerr clearly was confident that Green would revert to being his customary self. Green can create waves, which result in turbulence along the journey, but on the vast majority of occasions, he’s there for his teammates and his coaches.