Golden State Warriors sharpshooter Klay Thompson is willing to do what’s necessary in order to help his team get to the next level, and that includes coming off the bench. For the Warriors, that next level is two more playoff wins from advancing to the Western Conference Finals.
After a six-year postseason drought, the Warriors entered the 2013 NBA Playoffs last season as the sixth seed, dispatching the Denver Nuggets in six games before losing to a San Antonio Spurs team that would make it all the way to the NBA Finals. One of the Warriors’ playoff heroes was Thompson—the guard-forward averaged 15.2 points per game and shot the 3-pointer with sniper-like proficiency at 42 percent.
With the acquisition of another guard-forward Andre Iguodala, a 2012 All-Star, Warriors head coach Mark Jackson has the option of bringing Thompson in with the second unit to provide some offensive firepower off the pine. Thompson doesn’t mind the new role if Coach Jackson opts to keep him on the bench during the 2013-14 regular season.
“It’s something you have to get used to,” Thompson told the San Francisco Chronicle. “You have to stay looser on the bench, but it’s still the same role: go in there, shoot, play defense and try to do everything I can.”
Thus far in the 2013 preseason, he’s showing he’s ready to take on new roles, which include coming off the bench. In a 104-95 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday, Thompson came off the bench and led his team with 26 points in 38 minutes of play. He did the same in the preseason home opener on Monday night against the Sacramento Kings, finishing with 17 points in 29 minutes of a 94-81 Warriors victory.
If Thompson’s minutes resemble anything like they did on Saturday and Monday, he’ll essentially be a bench player with a starter’s minutes. Coach Jackson has the luxury of playing Thompson alongside Iguodala and forward Harrison Barnes if he chooses to go with a smaller lineup—opposing defenses will have to contend with the athleticism of Iguodala and Barnes, as well as Thompson’s ability to stretch the floor with his shooting.
“Klay is going to always do what he does best,” said Iguodala. “And that’s shoot the ball pretty well. I told Klay when he’s in the game with me, he’s going to get a lot of looks so he’s gotta be ready to shoot the ball. And he is.”