OAKLAND – Fate continues to trend for Klay Thompson, pushing the Warriors guard ever closer to his first All-Star Game.
The latest development came Monday, when the NBA named Thompson the Western Conference Player of the Week for the second time in three weeks and the third time this season. Thompson, therefore, leads the conference in POTW awards collected so far this season.
Moreover, the fourth-year player became the first Warrior to receive three POTW awards in a single season. To be precise, Thompson has achieved the distinction in what was a storybook half-season.
"Is it possible to be Player of the Week three times before the All-Star Game and not make the All-Star Game?" Warriors coach Steve Kerr wondered after practice Monday.
Well, yes, it's possible. Given Thompson's performance thus far, however, it would be utterly irrational.
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Thompson earned the latest honor after averaging 33 points, 3.5 assists, 2.25 steals and 29.8 minutes over four games last week. His 52-point performance against the Kings last Friday, which included a record-breaking 37-point third quarter, surely sent Thompson to the top the list.
Yet Thompson was a strong contender to join teammate Stephen Curry on the All-Star roster prior to his incredible work last week. Though Thompson finished sixth in the voting among Western Conference guards, there was reason to believe he could be snubbed – particularly if Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, having the worst season of his long career, were to start after being voted in alongside Curry.
Bryant, however, sustained a torn rotator cuff last week and is expected to have surgery and perhaps miss the remainder of the season. His absence opened up a spot from which Thompson should benefit.
League commissioner Adam Silver holds the right to select any replacement starter. The most likely candidate would be Rockets star James Harden, who last year replaced an injured Bryant and finished third in the voting this season.
The next logical choice would be Thompson, who said last week that he believes he is worthy of being on the team. Meanwhile, he's lining up POTW awards.
"It means something," he said of the latest award. "I can get used to it, but it just means the hard work is paying off and I had a great week."
The All-Star reserves are selected by vote of coaches within the conference. Each coach must vote for two guards, three frontcourt players and two wild cards. Coaches cannot vote for their own players.
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Among the guards certain to be considered, beyond Thompson and Harden, are Damian Lillard of the Trail Blazers, Chris Paul of the Clippers and Russell Westbrook of the Thunder. That makes five candidates to join point guard Curry, with only Thompson and Harden as shooting guards.
Thompson, 24, signed a $69 million contract extension in October, won his first POTW award in November, won two more in January and has been the talk of the league since last Friday night. He's putting up career-best numbers in shooting percentage, assists, steals and blocked shots.
Between the injury to Bryant and Thompson's own merit, his chances of being an All-Star seem to get better by the day.