Was Klay Thompson an All-NBA Snub Victim?
"I think it's bull----."
"What we win, 67 games or something like that," he kvetched to an assembled press pool. "I think it's pretty crazy. It's some guys on there, as scorers, averaging 20 points and don't have near as many wins as we have. You know, so how he could be left out. Also the way Klay can defend, I don't understand it, but I guess they gotta find some way to punish us."
Profanity aside, does Green have a point? Well, Thompson averaged a career high in points per game (22.3), which included a vintage performance last December 6, when he dropped 60 points in 29 minutes against Indiana.
And on the other end of the floor, the sharpshooter was often tasked with guarding the opposition's best backcourt scorer. Thompson was a busy dude, but does busyness equate to All-NBA status?
Depends on the competition.
In order to make the case for a player getting robbed of an All-NBA nod, you have to make a case that somebody who was voted onto the team has to go.
The guards who earned All-NBA honors over Thompson were James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Isaiah Thomas, Stephen Curry, John Wall, and DeMar DeRozan. Which of those six would (or should) get whacked in favor of Thompson?
Let's go deep into the numbers.
If you're not familiar with nERD, it's our own player ranking, which measures the total contribution of a player throughout the course of a season, based on their efficiency. (Keep in mind that league average is 0.)
The numberFire efficiency metric is an estimate for the point differential that a league-average team would have with that player as one of the five starters. It combines both offensive and defensive production on a per possession basis.
Taking that into account, here are how the guards in question performed this season:
|Player||nERD||numberFire Efficiency||Win Shares||Player Efficiency Rating|
What stands out most is how amazing Westbrook, Harden, Curry, and Thomas were, and they trump Thompson in these metrics, hands down.
So does Klay deserve a spot on the All-NBA third team? Let's ask the garden variety advanced analytics what they have to say.
Now that we've eliminated Westy, the Beard, Steph, and IT-4, we should check in with some of the more common advanced statistics, including effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage.
|Player||Points Per Game||eFG%||TS%||Box Plus/Minus|
Thompson falls behind Wall and DeRozan when it comes to points per game, due in part to the fact that he attempts fewer field goals each night (17.6) than DeRozan (20. 9) and Wall (18.4) -- and that's understandable, because DeRozan and Wall don't have to share the rock with Curry and Kevin Durant.
However, Thompson shines in effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage, which adjust for three-point shots. That's also unsurprising, as Klay is primarily an outside gunner, whereas Wall and DeRozan make a living inside the three-point line.
Out of Klay's 17.6 field goal attempts per game, 8.3 came from downtown, as compared to Wall's 3.5 and Derozan's 1.7.
Thompson's box plus/minus, on the other hand, isn't so hot. Box plus/minus is an estimate of the points per 100 possessions a player contributed over a league average player, translated to an average team. Wall stands out in this category, ranking just outside of the top 20 in the NBA for 2016-17. Again, Thompson's low mark here stems in part from Curry and Durant's presence -- but still.
The Final Countdown
Wall and DeRozan get the edge in the individual numbers, but team performance has to be factored in. Thompson was a vital piece of a 67-win squad, while DeRozan and Wall's teams won, respectively, 51 and 49. Klay takes that category, easily.
So if team wins are important to you, you'll be on board with Draymond Green's loud, profane opinion that Thompson was a clear snub. If you're all about the stats, you likely agree with the media voters that Klay Splash is right where he belongs.