Statistical model shows Warriors youngsters outplayed Klay last season

Statistical model shows Warriors youngsters outplayed Klay last season originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

Now that Klay Thompson is a Dallas Maverick, the Warriors’ roster will have to replace, if not improve upon, his production to make Golden State a contender next season.

However, as one model shows, the Warriors’ youngsters shouldn’t have much of an issue succeeding Klay based on their performances during the 2023-24 NBA season.

After all, Thompson performed worse than three of the Warriors’ recent first-round picks — Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody and Brandin Podziemski — based on data from journalist Neil Paine’s estimated RAPTOR metric.

Paine’s RAPTOR rating is meant to be an all-encompassing estimation somewhat similar to WAR in baseball. But, instead of wins above replacement, RAPTOR intends to quantify the number of points a player adds or subtracts from their team per 100 possessions, compared to a league-average player.

So, how did Thompson perform last season according to this model?

Well, not great. Thompson’s rating was plus-0.2, labeling him as essentially a league-average player in 2023-24. Though his plus-1.4 offensive RAPTOR trailed only Steph Curry on the Warriors, Thompson scored a dismal minus-1.2 on the defensive end to mostly cancel it out.

For some context, Thompson’s highest RAPTOR rating of his career came back in 2014-15, when he was a plus-4.7 during the Warriors’ NBA title run that season. But since his consecutive injuries in 2019 and 2021, the now-34-year-old guard has seen his value deteriorate in the eyes of the model.

The RAPTOR rating favors the Warriors’ promising young players instead. Podziemski (plus-1.5), Kuminga (plus-1.1), and Moody (plus-0.4) all ranked better than the veteran Thompson last season.

Of course, none of those players can imitate the Splash Brother’s ability to go bananas on the offensive end, but at this stage of their careers, the youngsters’ defensive value makes up for their shooting shortfalls.

The Warriors’ top performers by estimated RAPTOR rating? Perhaps not who one might expect. Gary Payton II and another rookie, Trayce Jackson-Davis, led the team with plus-2.6 and plus-2.5 marks, respectively. Chris Paul (plus-1.9) and Curry (plus-1.8) — the latter also weighed down by poor defense — both came in not far behind.

Still, no numbers truly can encapsulate what Thompson brought to the Warriors franchise over the last decade, but this metric does suggest the team isn’t necessarily going to be worse without him in the near future.

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