Why Klay Thompson Should Be an NBA All-Star
This time of year in the NBA, a lot of people start to talk about possible All-Star "locks" and "snubs."
Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, so many take to Twitter with their personal locks and snubs.This year is no different. As February 15th quickly approaches, fans, writers and analysts alike have weighed in on the topic -- the respected Marc Stein of ESPN included.
Do we agree there are 10 West locks? Starters: Kobe, Steph, Blake, Brow, MGasol. Subs: Harden, Russ, Dame, CP3 and that kid on a comeback KD— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) January 21, 2015
Yesterday, Stein asked Twitter nation a question and followed with a suggested answer. Yes, I really can't argue against any of these 10 players (even Kobe in what might be his last chance at the All-Star spotlight). However, I was surprised by one player absent from this list.
Klay Thompson's name was nowhere to be found.
Some may argue that Thompson just might not fit with all the guard talent out West. I mean, just look at the six guards on Stein's list, not to mention guys like Mike Conley, Monta Ellis, and Wes Matthews -- each vital to their respective team's success this season. Others might even go further to say that Thompson isn't an All-Star and is a product of Steph Curry and the Warriors' greatness.
But, Klay Thompson should be a lock for this year's NBA All-Star Game. Tell me why not. The man's playing the best basketball of his career on the best team in the league.
The Warriors are now 34-6, after another blowout (despite what the final score says) of the Houston Rockets. They also own the best point differential in the league (+11.8) and the league's best nERD (84.8). (For those of you unfamiliar, nERD is our in-house metric which is predictive of a team's ultimate winning percentage. For the Warriors, that would be 84.8%, or about 70 wins.) It's not hard to see that the Warriors have been the NBA's best team through forty games.
So, shouldn't the two best players (Curry and Thompson) on the very best team in the league make an appearance in the mid-season showcase in the Big Apple? Not always. But in this case, yes.
Klay Thompson is a top-10 player in the league right now, let alone a top five guard in the West. His nERD of 10.1 is good enough for 10th in the league and fifth among Western Conference guards -- behind only Harden, Curry, Paul and Lillard. I can roll with that.
But where the big question comes in is with Russell Westbrook. Like I said, I can't argue against Westbrook -- at least straight up. I can, on the other hand, argue against Westbrook in favor of Klay Thompson.
I am very aware that Westbrook is putting up nearly 25 points, over 7 assists and 6 rebounds per contest. That's really really good. But Russ has only played 28 games to Klay's 39. To put that better into perspective, Klay Thompson has played 371 more minutes than the Thunder point guard this year.
Though Westbrook's injuries can't keep us from noticing his All-Star caliber play, we shouldn't allow him to benefit because of them nor hurt Klay Thompson in the process.
Besides, Thompson's Warriors have won 12 more games than Westbrook's Thunder while also posting a nERD 30.6 points better than Oklahoma City's 54.0. That should count for something. Even if it doesn't, the individual numbers speak for themselves.
While Westbrook may have better averages than Thompson in points, assists and rebounds per game, Thompson has a nERD of 10.1 compared to Westbrook's 6.4. How's that? Well, Thompson's shooting a career-high 47.2% from the field and a career-high 44.4% from the three-point arc. However, there's much more to Thompson than shooting. He's earned a career-high defensive rating of 102 while averaging a theft and a block per game. The below chart accurately illustrates his effect on both ends.
|On − Off||65%||+.052||+11.1||-.012||-3.3||+.065||+14.4|
Klay Thompson can do it all. The Splash Brother has shown why he's so valuable to his team and why he should be a lock for the NBA All-Star Game. He's one of the best in the West and deserves to be recognized as so. Pencil him in.