Every year NBA GMs are asked “who does the most with the least.” Usually they zeor in on players who seem aesthetically ill at ease, through both their lack of athletic prowess and, usually, their whiteness. But if you want to find the player who maximizes his value through the least diversity of quality skills, then you would have to look no further, on offense at least, than Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson.
Thompson is currently setting the league on fire, posting a scorching effective field goal percentage of 65, ninth in the league amongst players taking at least 14 shots a game, and sporting a PER of 20.2. Perhaps only his backcourt partner, Stephen Curry, generates as much home crowd excitement factor when he raises up. At 6-7 and terrifying coming off any screen, he hardly seems the archetype for the “little engine that could” type player we usually peg for the overachievers.
And yet what other skills does Thompson currently posses on offense aside from dead-eyed shooting? His burgeoning post game is coming along, but he’s not exactly an adept passer, he hasn’t got a very good handle, he doesn’t rebound, he doesn’t draw fouls, and his movement off ball extends almost solely to getting in the best position for a catch and shoot jumper. Over 75 percent of his shots come from outside the paint and 78 percent of those shots are defined as some form of jumper per NBA.com stats database. He’s not much of an athlete — his vertical leap is four inches lower than Kevin Love’s.
It has only been 11 games and his shooting is most likely going to come down to earth at some point, but to date there has never been a guard in the league who has ever put up Klay’s current PER with his usage rate while doing so little in the assists and rebounding department. Essentially, he is putting up a borderline All-Star level number in a metric designed to measure the entirety of ones efficiency on offense, and doing it only with his shooting.
Thompson is only in his third year and he has already shown signs of growth in the outlying portions of his game. The post game is starting to flourish in limited usage and if his passing comes around he could truly become a force with his 6-7 frame, not to mention an already solid defensive skill set.
But right now Thompson kills teams with his shooting alone, and yet has somehow clawed his way to a tier in the league made up almost exclusively of players with scouting reports thick as a phonebook.
The player who does the most with the least is not the white center who sets really solid screens or the undersized point guard who just seems to will his way to eight points a game off the bench, but the human flamethrower who has taken his one skill and used it to set the league on fire.