OAKLAND, Calif. -- "There's so much electricity in the building," Klay Thompson said after scoring 42 points in three quarters against the hapless, injured Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night. Thompson racked up 26 of those points in a second quarter that had Oracle screaming. When Thompson is feeling it, that electricity does things. The entire arena buzzes, the crowd starts begging his teammates to funnel him the ball. Those teammates try to oblige, because, as Draymond Green quipped after the game, "If I shoot the ball, I was probably going to get booed. And if I dribbled any longer I was probably going to get booed."
Thompson's teammates want to see him set the arena ablaze, want to aid in a repeat of the time he scored 37 in a quarter against Sacramento (Kerr joked after the game that Klay's 26 in the second wasn't impressive because he'd seen 37). They want it so badly that they deviate from the team play that enables such outbursts.
"It got a little hectic," Green said of the part of the game when the team was forcing the ball Thompson's way. "Coach was [ticked] off, started yelling at me. I couldn't stop laughing. Sorry! Ah, my bad!"
The thing is, Thompson has flourished this season in part because he's playing within a team concept that prioritizes efficiency over isolation. Gone are the post-ups where nobody moves around. Instead the Warriors move the ball and cut so as to get open shots for all. Though the team lapses into force-feeding a guy when he's having a moment, that moment usually comes about because nobody was forcing. Thompson got going on backcuts and open 3s -- not double-teamed leaners.
"I'm at my best when moving well without the ball," Thompson said. "I can score one-on-one I feel like, but it's [better] when it's within the rhythm of the offense."
Thompson said Kerr has stressed getting great shots.
"The biggest thing with Klay is, if he just takes good shots, if he lets the game come to him, then he can get into a groove like that," Kerr said. "He's obviously a phenomenal shooter. Where he gets himself in a little bit of trouble is when he starts taking off-balanced shots, quick shots that he doesn't need to take."
Though the Warriors have occasional heroes, they are not a hero ball outfit. Part of this is informed by Kerr's experience as a veteran role player. Part of it is informed by common sense. Great shots come to a team that doesn't force things.
Kerr saw Thompson's movement as an opportunity to get others involved.
"I was disappointed, actually," Kerr said. "That was the one thing I was disappointed about in the first half, and I told the guys. They were so frantically trying to get the ball to Klay. That's the perfect time to get somebody else a layup because the defense is swarming around Klay."
It's easy to write about a guy's incredible play as though it's informed by only his actions, but Golden State's system and Thompson's breakout year are connected. Last season, he was asked to take hard shots. This season, he's asked to find easy ones. Given that, it makes sense that Thompson has played the role of hero more often in a structure that doesn't demand he deliver heroics.