by Eduardo Maisonet, III / @edthesportsfan
While Klay Thompson was busy setting the nets ablaze during the opening night festivities in Oracle Arena, I figured I’d take a quick re-scan at the SLAM Top 50 to see where the shooting guard ranked among the elite players in the Association.
(hits Command+F, types “K-L-A-Y”…)
Nothing. The man is nowhere to be found in the Top 50.
I can understand why the sharpshooter from Washington State isn’t on the 2013 list of top players, but it’s going to be hard to leave him off the list much further if he plays like he did on Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Lakers. Thompson’s 38 points helped pave the way for the Golden State Warriors in a 125-94 blowout that really wasn’t as close as the score indicates.
One person who knows a thing or three about sharpshooters getting hot is newly acquired big man Jermaine O’Neal. The former Pacer was eloquent about his observation of Mychal Thompson’s son and how wowed he was with his performance tonight and when he first got to Oakland.
“I knew coming in that Steph could shoot, everyone knows Steph Curry is a big time shooter. One of, if not the best shooter in the world….and then I saw Klay,” O’Neal said. “Man, I was like, I dunno. Klay can stroke. Pick your poison. At this point, the people might be surprised but we as a team are not.
“Klay works hard day after day and his performance tonight is a result of it. The biggest thing for us is that we’re all happy for each other, and that’s something you don’t see everywhere. In the great teams, you definitely see that.”
The blowout came in a game where Stephen Curry played a rather pedestrian game, scoring just 10 points and 6 assists while dealing with foul trouble. David Lee’s 22 points and Andrew Bogut’s dominance around the rim laid the foundation for greatness in Mark Jackson’s first game back in Oracle.
Play defense. Rebound. Share the ball. Play with heart. Warriors fans got their first real glimpse of Andre Iguodala taking live bullets and the swiss-army knife swing man did not disappoint. Iguodala only tallied 7 points, but where he didn’t produce in points, he made up for it in perimeter defense, pushing the ball up the floor in transition and being deferential to his teammates in finding open shots.
As for the Lakers, the euphoria that was felt in a shocking opening night triumph over their roommates in the Clippers was quickly put to bed with the thrashing received on Wednesday night. While the Lakers made almost anything they wanted while playing with pace and executing with grace versus a lethargic Clippers squad, against the Warriors it became obvious that creating decent open looks will prove to be a real problem against quick defenses. The Lakers big man duo of Pau Gasol and Chris Kaman were largely ineffective versus the fast-paced Warriors attack, and all those clutch shots that were made by Jordan Farmar and Xavier Henry fell flat and off the mark.
Many will question if this is an indication of who the Lakers are, but I’d argue that we still have plenty of time to figure that out. Maybe the Lakers are a team somewhere in the middle from Tuesday night’s win and Wednesday night’s buzzsaw. This Lakers team is longer, quicker and much more energetic than last year’s iteration, but it’s still unclear who this team’s leader will be while Kobe Bryant recovers from his achilles’ injury, and the losses in October count the same as they do in April.
As for now, let’s recognize that the Golden State Warriors have lived up to their pre-season hype for one game, and what a game it was. The NBA is now officially on notice.