Farewell or Forever? The Pivotal Question Surrounding Klay Thompson’s Warriors Career

Klay Thompson has been struggling to begin the 2023-24 NBA season, leading to questions about his future with the Warriors.

Stephen Curry is the greatest shooter of all time. Some may say Ray Allen or Reggie Miller are right behind Steph, but Klay Thompson has made a pretty good case for being the second-best shooter of all time. It just so happens that these two sharpshooters have played together since 2011, raising four championship banners in front of the Golden State Warriors faithful.

Thompson, who has battled through two major leg injuries in back-to-back seasons, proved to still be one of the most effective shooters in the league over the last two seasons. In fact, Klay led the NBA in made threes last season with 301 triples on 731 total attempts, which was also a league-high mark. The 2023-24 season has been the complete opposite for the future Hall of Famer, as Thompson’s struggles have directly impacted the Warriors’ chance of finding success.

A 6-2 start has rapidly turned into a 6-7 record for Golden State, which is why panic surrounding Thompson is beginning to set it. Can Klay Thompson still be the same No. 2 scoring option we’ve known him to be alongside Curry all of these years?

Klay Thompson’s early-season struggles

Warriors' Klay Thompson facing criticism from fans

Shooters shoot, that’s the name of the game. Throughout his entire career, Thompson has never backed down from taking his shots, regardless of what his numbers for the game are. He has had occasional shooting slumps, but Thompson has always been able to figure things out.

Things seem a little bit different right now with the Warriors and Thompson compared to his struggles in years past. Confidence seems like it’s an issue for the first time in Klay’s career. While they won’t admit it, Golden State doesn’t seem to fully trust Thompson right now. Of course, Draymond Green and Steph Curry do, but the rest of this roster does not appear to be as in sync with Thompson as we are accustomed to seeing.
Warriors offseason: Klay Thompson could sign an extension soon - Golden  State Of Mind

Thompson has played in all 12 of the Warriors’ games this season. After starting off hot and shooting 40 percent from distance through the first three games of the season, Thompson has has cooled off significantly, shooting just 23.7 percent from deep in his last six games. Hey, what do you know, the Warriors are 1-5 in their last six games, with their only victory coming on the road against the last-place Detroit Pistons.

When Klay is hitting shots and in a groove offensively, the Warriors win games. When their star shooting guard is struggling to find his rhythm, the Warriors lose games. There are obviously other factors that play into how Golden State performs, but the bottom line is that this team would not be riding a five-game losing streak while owning a 1-5 record at home if Klay was playing like Klay.

Maybe Thompson needs to try something new and bring the headband back, as he has seemed to find success playing with one around his head over the last couple of years. On a more serious note, perhaps Thompson just needs a quick mental break to regroup and focus on the goal he made for the team in the offseason: win a fifth championship.

Recently playing against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Thompson was ejected for getting into a scuffle with Wolves forward Jaden McDaniels. Coming to Thompson’s defense when Rudy Gobert attempted to pull Klay away from the altercation, Green was also ejected and given a five-game suspension for putting Gobert in a headlock.

While he has always played with fire and passion the basketball court, never afraid to talk smack to his opponents, Thompson just looks off right now. There’s not much rhythm in his game, and it really seems like outside noise is bothering him.

As far as his struggles go, Thompson just isn’t playing well for his standards. Outside of scoring zero points in the game he was ejected just two minutes into and scoring five points against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night, Klay has put up point totals that many talents across the league would be happy with.

The main problem is that in nine games this month, Thompson has shot just 37.3 percent from the floor and 29.8 percent from three-point range. The Warriors know what their veteran leader is capable of, which is why they are not giving up on him whatsoever.

Steve Kerr not giving up on Klay Thompson

Warriors' Steve Kerr saying "Klay will be fine" next to Klay Thompson

Warriors Steve Kerr understands the pressure of being a high-percentage shooter in the NBA, because he has been there. Just like how Klay Thompson has to step up as a shooter alongside Steph Curry, Kerr had to do so alongside Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls.

Kerr has a special relationship with both Curry and Thompson, which is one of the sole reasons why Golden State has been able to find so much success the last several years.

Following the team’s most recent loss against the Thunder, a game that took the Warriors’ losing streak to five games, Kerr talked about Thompson’s struggles and how the team can help him get out of his recent funk.

“It’s tough. They loaded up on him [Thompson] and made it really tough on him,” Kerr stated, via KNBR. “They had [Luguentz] Dort draped all over him doing a good job defensively. We weren’t really able to create any space for him with our lineups, with our offense. They just kept him really smothered and he was trying to get his own shot. He took a lot of tough ones. Out of frustration, he’s just trying to get himself going.

“We’ve got to try and find a way to get him some cleaner looks.”

Amid his recent struggles shooting the basketball, the Warriors have not decreased Thompson’s role, nor his minutes. The entire coaching staff and the front office still believe in Klay, which is why the conversations surrounding the team needing to trade him on social media are nothing more than fans venting their own frustrations.

The Warriors are not prepared to give up on Thompson, nor trade him at any point during this season despite the fact that he is in the final year of his contract. As far as what the future holds, Klay’s future with Golden State is still very much up in the air and will continue to be a topic of conversation all season long if his struggles persist.

Klay Thompson’s future uncertain

Klay Thompson with the Warriors arena in the background injury

Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Stephen Curry are all going to have their numbers retired by the Warriors, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see them have statues outside of Chase Center when they are ready to hang things up. You wouldn’t have this great Warriors dynasty without any of these three, which is why no price tag can be set on Thompson, Green, or Curry.

With this said, the Warriors are going to have to come up with some type of value for Klay since his contract expires at the conclusion of the regular season. The team and Thompson have held some conversations regarding a possible contract extension, but nothing appears to be imminent.

Right after the season began last month, Thompson was asked about where things stood in negotiations and how he feels playing this season with no long-term security.

“I’m focused on the daily dedication it takes to do this job,” Thompson told reporters. “I’m not really worried about extension right now. That will all play itself out.”

Regarding his future with the Warriors, Thompson has no plans on leaving. His father, Mychal Thompson, has made it clear that Klay has zero intentions of leaving the Warriors. The All-Star guard has echoed his father’s remarks, telling The Athletic before the season began that he “wouldn’t want to go anywhere else.”

Contract talks will play out over the course of the year and the two sides will need to come to an agreement at some point on a deal that is fair to both the player and team. As previously mentioned, there have been no conversations about Golden State looking to trade Thompson given his early-season struggles and contract concerns.

When the time comes, everything will figure itself out financially, which is why neither Thompson nor the Warriors are stressing about the situation. This organization’s focus is on winning and winning right now. The Warriors need Thompson at his best in order to compete for another championship, and it’s truly just a matter of time before Klay has an offensive explosion.

Even though these are trying times in San Francisco for the Warriors and their fans, nobody should be ready to give up on Thompson just yet. If we have learned anything over the course of his 13 years with the Warriors, it is that Klay is resilient and willing to do what it takes to win at the highest level possible.

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