Klay Opens Up About Game-Changing Conversation with Kerr During Struggles

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Klay reveals Kerr conversation that changed his mindset amid struggles originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO — Klay Thompson still is searching for the consistent shooting touch that made him one of the NBA’s most feared sharp-shooters, but the five-time All-Star is feeling a lot better about himself and his season following a conversation that he had with Warriors coach Steve Kerr.

The message from the coach to player was fairly simple: Ease your mind, relax and enjoy the ride because you already have a storied legacy as a player.

Thompson’s resume speaks for itself. He’s a four-time NBA champion, two-time All-NBA selection, and a gold medalist on both the USA’s 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup team and the 2016 Olympic team.

“That just helped me change my whole mindset and forget about shooting splits or points per game or All-Star games,” Thompson said following Tuesday’s 121-115 win over the Orlando Magic. “Just to enjoy being in this Warriors uniform and appreciate what we’ve built because it’s such a rare opportunity for any professional athlete to be a part of so much success. And to try to pass that torch to the younger guys and keep this thing going.”

Thompson is in the final season of a five-year, $189 million contract, and there has been plenty of speculation over whether or not the Warriors will offer him an extension. That Thompson has been struggling offensively most of the season – he’s averaging 16.7 points a game, his fewest in more than a decade – only has added fuel to the fire.

Kerr previously said some of the issues facing Thompson earlier in the season were due to bad shot selection. Asked about that same subject earlier this week, Kerr indicated that Thompson’s shots were better and that they just weren’t falling.

The 33-year-old Thompson appeared to break out of his slump with a solid six-game stretch where he averaged 25.7 points while going against the Los Angeles Clippers, Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics, Washington Wizards and the Portland Trail Blazers twice.

But Thompson has had just 40 points total in the four games since then, shooting 14 of 45 (31.1 percent).

During their conversation together, Kerr reminded Thompson to cherish all that he has accomplished and not get too caught up when things aren’t going his way.

“That helped me relax a lot,” Thompson said. “Sometimes I forget just how successful and how lucky I’ve been to be a part of the championship teams and All-Star games and gold medals. You want to get back to that level so badly, you can kind of get in your own way.

“Rather than forcing it, we had a conversation about just enjoying this last chapter of my career and how lucky I truly am to still be playing this game and do it at a high level and be a better mentor for the young guys, lead by example. Have my energy right every game. He helped me realize if I do have negative energy how that affects the team in a poor manner.”

Thompson didn’t have a huge offensive game against Orlando. He shot 6 of 11 overall and was 3-for-8 on 3s while being in foul trouble much of the night.

Thompson’s highlight came in the third quarter when he made a driving two-handed dunk midway through the third quarter. It was just two points but big for Thompson, who sat out two seasons with knee and Achilles injuries.

“That felt amazing,” Thompson said. “I will never take for granted dunking a basketball. Period. It doesn’t have to be in the NBA, it could just be in the driveway. That felt really good.

“I don’t dunk with as much frequency as I used to. There’s just things you have to accept as an athlete. Sometimes as time goes on you might not have the same bounce you once did but you just have to learn how to still be an effective player and I’m still doing that.”

Part of that means Thompson doing other things beyond scoring. Like defense.

Against the Magic, Thompson spent much of the night defending Orlando’s big man, Paolo Banchero. Banchero scored a team-high 27 points but was 8-of-20 shooting with eight of his points coming at the free-throw line.

“I thought he was excellent in the second half,” Kerr said. “He did good job guarding Banchero, which is a really tough match-up for anybody.”

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