The Starting Five: Klay Thompson’s shiny quarter is dazzling to behold
While we await the next superstar-related scouting report from Hakeem Olajuwon, let’s take a look at situations around the league.
The league is still buzzing over that 37-point third quarter Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors brought to the Sacramento Kings on Friday night.
With Thompson making all 13 of his field-goal attempts, quite a few lines in the NBA record book were redacted for future updating.
But we could use even more context:
There were 12 games across the league that evening, and only the Cleveland Cavaliers (42 in the second period of their triumph over Charlotte) scored more points in any quarter than Thompson unloaded during his eruption.
It also should be noted that Thompson knocked in nine 3-pointers in those 12 minutes, equaling or surpassing the 48-minute, 3-point totals of 21 other teams in business that night.
Another interesting number to ponder is 11. That’s where the Warriors were able to draft the former Washington State star in the 2011 NBA Draft. The Milwaukee Bucks, selecting 10th, chose Jimmer Fredette . . . and then traded him.
The Minnesota Timberwolves, who were attempting to pry Klay out of Oakland in a rumored deal involving Kevin Love during the last off-season, were picking second that night and chose Derrick Williams.
You are what you shoot, right?
Well, according to some different metrics listed on nbaminer.com, the New York Knicks lead the league in percentage of jump shots (76.07) taken among overall shot totals.
Please note the Knicks do not lead the NBA in percentage of jumpers made. That distinction belongs to the . . . wait for it . . . the Golden State Warriors (40.59).
The New Orleans Pelicans lead in the percentage of layups taken, while the Detroit Pistons are first in tip-ins (that seems to make sense). Interestingly, the Pistons are only 18th in percentage of tip-ins made. The Pistons also are last in percentage of dunk attempts successfully finished.
Somewhat shockingly, despite employing Anthony Davis and Omer Asik, the Pelicans are last in the league in opponents’ dunk-finishing percentage. This suggests very little defensive balance in transition.
The Phoenix Suns and Toronto Raptors might not have active hands on defense, but their feet are busy. These two teams are tied for the league lead in kicked-ball violations (32).
Among players who play a lot, LeBron James leads in frequency of traveling calls. Maybe it’s time to retire the crab dribble, King.
Let’s take a look at projections for the next NBA Draft.
The mover is Kentucky freshman two-guard Devin Booker, a 6-foot-6 shooter deluxe whose rise (for now) to the lottery fringe certainly hasn’t been hurt by the NBA eruption of Klay Thompson.
"One thing that trumps a lot of other things in evaluation now is the ability to shoot," one NBA personnel guy said when asked this week about Booker. "With 3-point metrics factored in more and more and this being a copycat world, we’re now looking for the next Klay Thompson. And this Booker kid can shoot it."
How about 22 of 33 from 3-point range (about 67 percent) over Kentucky’s last nine games? This marksmanship has lifted Booker to an even 50 percent from beyond the arc for the season (and 51 percent overall).
Booker has pretty good bounce (a 35-inch vertical), a pedestrian wingspan and a scoring average (10 per game) that’s been limited by the requirement of sharing minutes with all of his talented UK playmates.
But in a league that now celebrates the likes of Kyle Korver, Booker — whose dad, Melvin, played at Missouri — could be coveted for one important skill.
The Hornets opened this week with news that star point Kemba Walker will have surgery to repair a torn meniscus. There’s no timetable for his return, but the injury could keep Walker off of the floor for the rest of the season.
Considering that Charlotte is seven games under .500, this sounds like a potential death knell, right?
No, sports fans, because this is the Eastern Conference and the Hornets — even at seven games under — currently sit on the eighth seed.
So, with something to salvage (we suppose), Michael Jordan and the Hornets reportedly may go out and bring in . . . Joe Johnson! Right, the same guy who’s been paid superstar wages since deciding he no longer wanted to play third fiddle in Phoenix could be pushed off the books in Brooklyn.
For a cool $23 million and change, Joe has been giving the Nets 15.5 points per game and making 43 percent of his shots from the field, including a mediocre 36 percent from 3-point range.
If he truly waves bye-bye to wealthy teammates Deron Williams and Brook Lopez, the return — according to the rumor mill — would include Lance Stephenson and Gerald Williams.
This means the same Stephenson the Nets allegedly cooled on during negotiations for another deal is attractive enough if it means getting rid of Johnson’s contract ($25 million next season).
Regardless of how, or if, this shakes out, consider Johnson and Stephenson the gifts that keep on giving ammunition to the rest of us . . . especially when it comes to trade rumors.
Although there’s a pretty nice list of matchups lined up for this Saturday, the one that could be the most entertaining will occur in Oakland.
That’s where the rampaging Golden State Warriors will take on those frequently plucky Phoenix Suns.
The entertaining part — at least to fans of offense — will be supplied by the league’s top-scoring team (Warriors) vs. the squad currently ranked third in points per game.
These teams also are 1-2 in pace (possessions per 48 minutes) and 3-6, respectively, in offensive efficiency.
You may be wondering why two teams so evenly matched in those categories could have 14 games separating them in the loss column. Well, Golden State also checks in as the league’s most-efficient team on defense; Phoenix can be found lurking all the down in the 20th position.
For individual tests, breakout Warrior Klay Thompson will spend much of the evening dealing with the bump-and-run tactics of Suns defender P.J. Tucker. And the Steph Curry-Eric Bledsoe intersection may be a hoot.
Oh, by the way, if the current Western Conference standings hold (and those who believe in the OKC Thunder don’t believe they will), this could be a dress rehearsal for a first-round playoff matchup.
That might be serious fun.