SLAM Top 50: Klay Thompson, No. 17

For being the prototype of an ideal shooting guard, Klay Thompson is one pretty undefinable dude.

On any given night, the Warriors 6th-year super wing might lock down the opposing team’s best player, or erupt for 60. On 11 dribbles. Off the court, he might also bless the Twittersphere with the adventures of China KlayIndyCar Klay, or Klay vs. Dog. On more than 11 dribbles.

All of which as he continues to shoot nearly 42 percent from deep for his career and help keep the good ship Golden State churning out more wins and rings.

Thus is the genius of Klay Thompson, in all forms; everything feels effortless.

Not only does the man shoot the prettiest ball in the League—JJ, JR and Steph have a good argument here too—but Thompson also remains one of its best on-ball defenders. Despite the occasional missed helpside recovery or monster defensive rebound numbers, he is as good a two-way guard in the game when he’s locked and loaded. He can guard four positions and at 6-7, Thompson can rise over almost any defender to get his own shot on the other end. He also gets buckets. And in a hurry.

There was the 37 he gave the Kings back in 2015, in the 3rd quarter alone. That one was good enough to make Thompson the most prolific scorer in a single quarter in NBA history. Or how about the aforementioned 60 he dropped in three quarters against Indiana last season. He accomplished that while also holding the ball in his possession for a total of 90 seconds. NINETY. I can’t even play Fruit Ninja on my wife’s iPad for 90 seconds without getting a hand cramp. Klay seems to catch fire almost casually.

In fact, since the 2014-15 season, Thompson’s stat cards have stayed remarkably consistent. His averages have hovered at or right around 22 points, two dimes and nearly four boards a game. That includes hooping opposite of two MVP-winning running mates in Steph and, more recently, with KD. In that time, Thompson has helped attain two NBA championships, three consecutive All-Star nods, a 3-Point Contest title, and an Olympic Gold medal.

It’s also why damn near every team in the league continues to try and trade for him– and it’s why the Dubs ain’t budging so far. That’s because Klay Thompson is a bona fide No. 1 masquerading as a No. 3, or even No. 4.

Without Thompson, the Warriors don’t escape the ’16 Western Conference Finals against OKC, they don’t reel off 73 wins and, arguably, they might not even beat a 2015 Believeland team that heavily featured Matt Dellavedova in the Finals. But they do have him, and they did win two chips, and there doesn’t seem to be any signs of slowing yet. And at only 27 years old, without ever fully getting control of the Dubs convertible yet, Klay might still have a fair amount of ceiling left to reach.

But the #SLAMTop50 isn’t just about the hype; you gotta have the intangibles too.

Simply put, a Klay Thompson interview is a thing of beauty. Stay with me here, but from downing a postgame pizza in the media scrum, to topping another one off with a beer, Klay always approaches his media time with the utmost swag. Hell, sometimes he’ll get so lost in his own wisdom that he’ll maybe, probably, sometimes forget what the question was even about. I mean, just watch this 12-minute montage dedicated to the man’s best answers. It’s captivating.

As for the Summer of Klay, wow. A true man of the people.

No one had more fun this summer than Klay, and I’m including everyone who live streamed the eclipse. He had THAT much fun. He danced his face off at a club in China, laughed off a missed dunk in front of all of social media, vacationed in the Bahamas, and might have even robbed a bank in California (he didn’t) and he probably refueled with chocolate milk the entire time! That’s a star in my book.

So to recap: Klay gets buckets, locks down defensively, wins championships, is only 27, and would definitely school Air Bud in any 1-on-1 setting.

If that’s not #SLAMTop50 royalty then I don’t know what is.

Previous Rankings:
2016: No. 13
2015: No. 17
2014: No. 29
2013: No. Not Ranked

Rankings are based on expected contribution in 2017-18—to players’ team, the NBA and the game.

No. 50 – Dion Waiters
No. 49 – Ben Simmons 
No. 48 – Brook Lopez
No. 47 — Harrison Barnes
No. 46 — Jrue Holiday
No. 45 — Lonzo Ball
No. 44 — Myles Turner
No. 43 — Goran Dragic
No. 42 — Andre Drummond
No. 41 — Al Horford
No. 40 — LaMarcus Aldridge
No. 39 — Kevin Love
No. 38 — Paul Millsap
No. 37 — Hassan Whiteside
No. 36 — Andrew Wiggins
No. 35 — Marc Gasol
No. 34 – DeAndre Jordan
No. 33 — Bradley Beal
No. 32 — Kemba Walker
No. 31 — CJ McCollum
No. 30 — Devin Booker
No. 29 — Nikola Jokic
No. 28 — Joel Embiid
No. 27 — Mike Conley 
No. 26 — Kyle Lowry
No. 25 — Rudy Gobert

No. 24 — Gordon Hayward
No. 23 — Kristaps Porzingis
No. 22 — Carmelo Anthony
No. 21 — DeMar DeRozan
No. 20 — Blake Griffin
No. 19 — Draymond Green
No. 18 — Chris Paul