How the Warriors Escaped the Mistake of Klay Thompson the First Time

The Warriors will apparently offer Klay Thompson a max deal to stay with the team. We, unfortunately, view this as a mistake for the Warriors. It is not the first time in Warriors history a major decision involving Klay happened and the Warriors chose poorly. Let's review how they escaped a poor fate last time,

In 2014 the Warriors had a major decision. Kevin Love was on the market, and the Warriors apparently had a shot at landing him. The price tag? Klay Thompson. The Warriors though passed on Kevin Love. As a reminder, Kevin Love had just come a season averaging 26/14 while shooting 37.6% from three on six attempts a game. He was a top ten wins producer, finishing 2014 with 15.3 Wins Produced while playing star level. Kevin Love was turning 25 the next season, so right in his prime. According to our standard logic, when such a player is available if it doesn't cost a star player, you take it. The Warriors passed and kept Klay Thompson. A decision that we, at the time, thought was a mistake.

History, however, "validated" the Warriors. And in part, it might be why the Warriors are doubling down on signing Klay Thompson again. But let's review how the Warriors were more lucky than good with Klay Thompson, and why, he is certainly not worth another major deal.

Kevin Love's Health and Role in Cleveland

One of the biggest reasons people don't view this trade as a miss for Golden State is that Kevin Love wasn't an amazing star in Cleveland. Sure, he played well. He helped the Cavaliers to a title. But compared to the Moses Malone like numbers he was putting up in Minnesota, he wasn't quite the same player in Cleveland.

One obvious thing to note about Kevin Love was he couldn't stay healthy in Cleveland. His first year, he missed out on the playoffs after the first round due to injury. In 2016 he was even injured in the Finals with a concussion. After his first two seasons, Kevin Love missed at least 20 games due to injury in his remaining time with LeBron.

The more obvious problem was his role. Like Chris Bosh before him, Kevin Love joined two potent scorers in LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and was relegated to the third banana. In Minnesota, he routinely averaged 25+ shots per 100 possessions. In Cleveland with both LeBron and Kyrie on the team, he was closer to 20. Kevin Love was also a potent passer, but as his touches dropped in Cleveland, so did his assists. In short, the amazing Kevin Love that could have been a perfect complement to LeBron James was wasted behind Kyrie Irving. By the time Kyrie moved on, Kevin Love was banged up and the surrounding cast much weaker. It made it easy for Warriors fans to miss out on what could have been. However, the Warriors got even luckier.

Draymond in the Wings

Kevin Love compared to Klay Thompson doesn't make a lot of sense. Kevin Love, as a noted, was a potent big that could handle the ball a lot while scoring and rebounding like mad. Klay Thompson didn't replace this. However, another player did. The Warriors had Draymond Green on the squad. He was a bench player that averaged 22 minutes a game in 2013-2014. And, by our numbers, he was a decent "replacement player", but nothing special. In 2014-2015 though he got promoted to a starter and turned into a good player. In 2015-2016 when the Warriors broke the regular season win record, he was, arguably, the top power forward in the league. And, it turned out, he was an adept ball handling forward, just like Kevin Love. His peak wasn't at the same level as peak Kevin Love. But it made it easy to miss out on the hole Kevin Love potentially left on the Warriors. That said, Draymond Green wasn't the biggest reason the Warriors didn't mind missing out on Kevin Love.

Klay's Contract, the CBA, and Kevin Durant

In 2016, the NBA saw a massive boost to their revenues, and as a result, the amount teams could pay their players. The NBA also didn't "smooth salaries" when the boost occurred, which meant most teams in the 2016 offseason saw a massive boost to their cap space. To anyone paying attention to the cap landscape, this was obviously going to happen. And that's where Klay came in. Klay signed a deal for roughly $16 million a season in 2015. On the old NBA CBA, this was close to a max deal. On the new CBA with the new TV revenue though? It was a discount. Klay went from being overpaid to being properly paid to underpaid depending on your perspective. Also, because of the discount, it left the Warriors with spare cap room to sign Kevin Durant. And even at Kevin Love's peak, we'd still likely have taken Kevin Durant over him. Two Finals MVPs later and clearly it worked out fine. Game over!

Better Lucky than Good

At one point in their history, the Warriors had a chance to grab a top 10 player in exchange for an overrated scorer. They balked on that chance but were bailed out due to a lucky set of circumstances. If you have a bench player ready to burst out, a change in the NBA CBA coming, and the top NBA free agent heading your way, you can forgive such a thing. However, the Warriors just let one of the top free agents out the door and signed an overrated free agent to their squad. Maybe they'll luck out again. Join us next time when we discuss why Klay Thompson has been overrated in his career, and why D'Angelo Russell isn't the Kevin Durant replacement you're hoping for.