Klay Thompson has been on a two-month heater, could be Warriors’ stretch-run spark
Let’s all agree to forget about the last minute of the Warriors’ 109-104 victory over the Timberwolves on Sunday. It was a circus. But all’s well that ends well. And that game ended well for Golden State, who trailed by a full 12 points in the fourth quarter and were once again without the services of Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins, largely because of Clay Thompson.
If you’re used to the “Thompson is not the same” narrative, you’ll be surprised to know that he’s been on fire for almost two months now. He finished with 32 points on Sunday, bolstering the 42 he scored in Friday’s win over Houston, and is now averaging more than 26 points per game since Jan. 1.
During that time, Thompson hits 44% of the 12 three-pointers he makes in a game. This month alone, he’s already hit two games with 12 3-pointers and has 18 3-pointers in his last two games. He scored 11 of his 32 points on Sunday in the fourth quarter, and his 30-foot-3 and one-foot swim in the final 50 seconds of the first half marked a burst of momentum that will be forgotten by the way this game ended.
Clay Thompson led @warriors until victory 🔥 pic.twitter.com/hPkP27LugM
— NBA (@NBA) February 27, 2023
Among the many reasons why the Warriors, just one game above .500 and still below the play-in line, are still considered championship contenders, Thompson is at the top of the list.
The Warriors have become pretty strong players, and for that to work as a championship formula, these top guys have to be tough. With the exception of Curry, most people have written in Greene and Wiggins as the Golden State’s next two most important players, but with Thompson in vintage uniform and Jordan Pool ready to burst into flames, the Warriors look armed to turn back into that old one. a team that was never out of the game and always within one or two nuclear stretches of burning the building to the ground.
Golden State still arguably has the best starting XI in the league when everyone is healthy, but that dominant net rating is increasingly attributed to Curry’s exceptional brilliance, which can propel almost any five-man group into elite territory. When his buddy is also in vintage form, which, again, he has been for a long period of time, then it seems that the dynasty is still alive.
Now this is speculation. Curry lost a lot of time. Like Greene and Wiggins. The Warriors have probably overlooked too much of the season without gaining any real positive momentum. But freedom of action has been earned. Most teams can’t flip the proverbial switch, but presumably the Warriors can. They have experience. Pedigree. And for some reason it seems that the same chip is on their shoulder at the moments of the highest competition.
In many ways, it started with Thompson hearing all the tweets about not being an All-Star anymore. This season, he has become more than short-tempered with several opponents. Devin Booker. Dillon Brooks. He did it again on the bench in Minnesota on Sunday, delivering a few choice words after one of his six 3-pointers.
Thompson is as fierce a contender as any other player in the league, and if he can channel that chip and keep that two-month-long heater through the regular season and into the playoffs, the Warriors, who are now tied with the Mavericks No. 6 and just one loss to the No. 4 Suns could once again be in the middle of a championship fight.