Daily MVP Film Breakdown: Klay Thompson’s 43 on 4 Dribbles

Klay Thompson put up 43 points while hardly putting the ball on the floor. He dribbled just four times before 18 made baskets, working hard without the ball and playing pure off guard better than anyone else can.

Complimenting playmakers like Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green necessitates effectiveness without the ball, and few players cut more dangerously than Thompson. This isn’t the first time he’s put up a silly number of points on single minimal dribbles, and it’s because he operates so perfectly as a finisher in this Warriors offense.

The key to Thompson’s game is his shooting, and it’s been a down year by his standards. He’s shooting 36% from deep this season, and he’s never had a season under 40%. In this game, he shot 7/16 from deep and hit a few shots with his foot on the line for good measure. So many of his cuts are simple, fundamental actions, but he does it better than anybody.

As the game went on and Thompson got hot, Golden State ran more plays for their shooter. Against a hapless Knicks team, that seems pretty mean.

A good portion of Thompson’s open shots came because he calmly jogged to the right place on the floor in transition, or off an offensive rebound by a teammate.

Playing alongside Steph Curry, Thompson often finds himself wide open with a perfect dime landing in his lap. In those situations, he rises up for one of the most technically perfect jumpers the game has ever seen.

If Thompson isn’t flaring to the arc, he’s cutting to the basket. He often uses the threat of his deep shot to create a wide open lane to the rack, and all he needs to do is throw a tiny shoulder fake to move the defender. Both of these passes from Draymond are perfectly disguised and timed.

It’s not like Thompson had to work too hard for all of his buckets though. Against an abysmal defense, even the least enthusiastic scoring actions are rewarded.

Thompson did put the ball on the floor a few times, but only briefly. Like most of his game, it came off of his ability to shoot. When the defense closed out on the catch too aggressively, he pumped and dribbled into an easier jumper.

Thompson’s least fundamentally sound play was also one of his most beautiful, a whimsical one-legged fader.

Klay Thompson dribbled a total of four times to set up 18 made baskets, and he also dribbled four times in a row to set up his only turnover of the night.

Klay Thompson is one of the few superstars in the league who plays better without the ball. He doesn’t even need to put it on the floor, in fact, he’s better when he doesn’t.

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