Klay Thompson vs. Iman Shumpert
*Photo via USA Today
Klay Thompson, Shooting Guard, Golden State Warriors
19.7 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 2.9 APG, 45.9 FG%, 42.5 3P%, 0.9 STL, 0.9 BLK, 2.4 TOV
Klay Thompson’s biggest strength while on the basketball court, shooting. As a member of the Splash Brothers, Thompson has made 45 three-pointers in 15 postseason games, which is second only his MVP splash-mate, Stephen Curry. Last summer, Thompson further developed his ability to put the ball on the floor, which doesn’t allow defenses to play him only for his deadly shot. Along with always being a threat to score, Klay is also asked to defend at a high level. Through 15 postseason games, opponents are shooting 40.6 percent from the field when defended by Thompson. Thompson may not have impressive steal or block numbers, but he plays great fundamental defense,which helps the Warriors as a whole average 8.0 steals per game and a top two defensive rating in the playoffs.
While shooting may be Thompson’s biggest strength, playmaking is not. If Klay Thompson isn’t shooting the ball well, he does not do other things well enough to have an impact on the box score. Thompson's role isn’t to be a playmaker, but an assist to turnover ratio of 1.22 is terrible considering he’s only had 44 assists this postseason. However, because of his incredible shooting ability, defenses still can’t leave him open. While he may not get traditional box score assists, his teammates don’t have to worry about help coming from his man majority of the time, which leads to easier shots/passes for them. Thompson, standing at six foot seven, has also been a below average rebounder pulling down only 3.7 rebounds per game. He will be the twelfth best rebounder in the NBA Finals.
Iman Shumpert, Shooting Guard, Cleveland Cavaliers
10.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 1.4 APG, 39.7 FG%, 36.8 3P%, 1.0 STL, 0.9 BLK, 0.4 TOV
Iman Shumpert was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers from the New York Knicks to provide perimeter defense and three-point shooting. LeBron James certainly believes Shumpert has delivered on the defense end, and the numbers bode well for Iman. Through 14 postseason games, opponents guarded by Shumpert have shot 40.9 percent from the field, which is 3.5 percent lower than when guarded by everyone else. While Shumpert may not have gaudy three-pointer statistics, he is tied for second most threes made on Cleveland’s roster and shoots well above the league average from the right corner and left/right wings. Shumpert is also a solid rebounder, averaging a respectable 5.4 per game from his two guard spot.
Shumpert is considered a three and D guy and with most players playing that role, shooting from any spot other from downtown is an adventure. Shumpert is shooting 43.3 percent on all two-point field goals which is twelfth best for all shooting guards with at least 50 two point attempts these playoffs. Within the Cleveland offense, LeBron and Kyrie Irving do the majority of the ball handling and playmaking while players like J.R. Smith and Shumpert are spaced to catch and shoot. Shumpert takes catch and shoot jumpers 47.9 percent of the time, but only connects at a 34.5 percent clip. Now this isn’t as big a deal if he’s making three pointers, which yields an effective catch and shoot percentage of 51.7 percent, but if he’s not hitting threes, Shumpert doesn’t consistently offer much else offensively.
Iman Shumpert may have the edge over Klay Thompson in terms of hairstyle and name coolness, but on the basketball court, Thompson’s combination of shooting and defense gives him the advantage. Both play different roles for their teams, but Klay has the explosiveness to score 30+ points in multiple games this series while Shumpert may score 20+ once. Defensively, their numbers are similar but Klay has the edge in size while Shumpert has the advantage in quickness. At the end of the day, basketball is about scoring more than your opponent, and All-Star Klay Thompson can fill it up which gives the Warriors an advantage over the Cavaliers from the two guard spot.