A look at Klay Thompson's potential

To break away from all the transfer stuff, here's something a little different.  I've been wondering for a while how good Klay Thompson can be, who he compares to in the game now, and what he needs to improve upon to reach his full potential.  To start, here is a blind comparison of some important numbers. (Click "wide" view to the right for best viewing.)

Klay Thompson:

Yr %Mins PPG RPG APG Ortg %Poss %Shots eFG TS% OR% DR% Arate TORate
Fresh 82.1 12.5 4.2 1.9 97 24 27.9 51.1 52.7 3.3 12.7 14.5 18
Soph 87 19.6 5.1 2.3 102.3 29.5 33.2 49.1 54.4 4.1 13.5 15.4 19.1

Unnamed Player:

Yr %Mins PPG RPG APG Ortg %Poss %Shots eFG TS% OR% DR% Arate TORate
Fresh 67.6 8.5 4.4 2.6 95.6 21 16.7 51.9 55.7 4.1 13.7 18.4 28.8
Soph 90 17.3 7.1 4 107.5 29.8 26.4 51.7 58.4 6.6 17.3 25.8 20.9

The numbers are from their respective kenpom team pages.  You can also find an explanation of what each of these stats these mean here.

After the jump, find out who the other player is and what Klay needs to do to live up to him.

The unnamed player in this case is Evan Turner.  For those of you that don't know who Evan Turner is, and I hope that's only a few of you, he's one of the top players in college basketball this year as a junior.  I left out his stats from this year because I only wanted to compare him to Klay up until this point in each player's career.  To see Turner's stats for this year, go here.  If Turner were to declare for the draft, which he probably will, he's a lock to go in the top two picks.  The kid can flat play.  As a guard at 6'7 210, he's a lot like Klay just by appearance, but that's not why I'm comparing the two.

Both Thompson and Turner can score, and score a lot.  They're both guards that can get in and rebound as well.  They create matchup problems for other teams and are usually the focus of the defensive gameplan.  Ability wise, they're each the best players on their respective teams.

What Klay lacks that Turner has developed is something that we all want Klay to have in his arsenal: the ability to handle the ball and create his own shots or shots for his teammates.  Turner's assist rate jumped up quite a bit from his freshman to sophomore year.  He became "the guy" on that team and was the one handling more point guard duties.  His ball handling ability clearly improved between his first and second years, something that we would probably all love to see happen with Klay between his second and third years.  This also takes on more significance now that Thames is gone.  We're going to need someone else that may be a capable ball handler.  I'll be the first to admit that Thompson hasn't been that guy and I know most of us get nervous when he brings the ball up.

Finally, let's look at the shooting numbers for Turner:

Yr 2PM-2PA 2Pt% 3PM-3PA 3Pt% FD/40 FTA
Fresh 86-163 52.8 23-69 33.3 3.7 163
Soph 182-359 50.7 11-25 44 5.8 222

And for Klay:

Yr 2PM-2PA 2Pt% 3PM-3PA 3Pt% FD/40 FTA
Fresh 91-213 42.7 68-165 41.2 2.3 31
Soph 124-276 44.9 76-209 36.4 4.9 166

You'll notice right away that Turner shoots better, and more often, from inside the arc which, from what I've seen, is a product of his ability to create open looks and easy shots.  He also has always been better at drawing fouls and getting to the line.  This is the part of Klay's game that has been rapidly improving, as evidenced by the up tick of his FD/40 and FTA numbers between his freshman and sophomore years.  Klay is also the better shooter from deep, but he shoots it way more often from beyond the arc than Turner does, as well.  Again, this boils down to being able to create off the dribble as well as moving off the ball to find open looks.

For me, Evan Turner is Klay Thompson's ceiling.  A quick look at their recruiting profiles show that the two were rated about the same coming out of high school.  Turner has progressed each year, making an even bigger leap to become what he is this year.  Thompson has also shown improvement between seasons, getting to the line, drawing fouls, and being more of an offensive presence.  We all know his shortcomings and the issues his game had down the stretch this year, but we've also seen what he can be at times.

I'm not saying Klay is Turner right now, nor am I saying he absolutely will be in a year or two, but I am saying that he can be.  If he even approaches that ceiling, I guarantee we will all be happy and the team will benefit from it.

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