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.