Programming note: Are you an early-riser? Catch the Warriors game against the Lakers in China on Friday, October 18 at 4:30 a.m. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.
Like many of his teammates, Warriors guard Klay Thompson spent much of his summer dedicated to improving specific aspects of his game. It’s a time-honored summer tradition in the NBA.
Thompson’s short-term goal is to make better use of his "quiet" athleticism.
His long-term goal is considerably greater. The 6-foot-7 shooting guard wants to reach All-Star level.
"I’m trying to attack more," Thompson says. "I’m trying to be as complete offensively as I can.
"Everyone knows my jumper is the base of my game. But to be an All-Star caliber player one day, I have to finish at the rim. I have to dunk more, show people I can jump."
[REWIND -- Thompson: 'It takes more than five guys to win a title']
That much was apparent through the team’s first two preseason games and likely will be evident when the Warriors meet the Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday for the first of two preseason games in China. The game at the MasterCard Center in Beijing will be televised by NBATV at 4:30 a.m. PDT.
Thompson last season earned a reputation as one of the league’s more willing and deadly long-distance shooters, finishing with 211 3-point shots. Only teammate Stephen Curry, who drained an NBA single-season record 272, and New Orleans' Ryan Anderson (213) made more.
Well aware that opponents will be in his face any time he is near the 3-point line – he got a good dose of that defense from San Antonio in the final two games of the Western Conference semifinals – Thompson wants to punish defenders by going around them and then over them.
Thompson, 23, surely raised a few eyebrows last week by grabbing a Toney Douglas miss in midair and slamming it through the basket in the first quarter of a win over Sacramento. It was one of several throw-downs this preseason from the son of former NBA player Mychal Thompson, including a two-handed power dunk in the preseason opener against the Lakers.
It all goes back to Thompson spending summer days and nights in the gym, improving his explosion and interior tenacity.
"That was my emphasis, definitely," Thompson says. "I think I’m getting there. I still have a lot of room to grow in that aspect, but I’m working at it every day."
Curry spent much of his summer strengthening his body to better absorb the contact as he drives to the hoop. It’s part of his goal to shoot more free throws.
Center Andrew Bogut gave his body six weeks to heal and, finally pain free, two months to trim his physique. He succeeded.
Power forward David Lee followed a similar plan and also looks good.
Small forward Harrison Barnes also set up shop in the gym, working on ball-handling and slashing to the basket.
And then there is Thompson, who through three games leads the Warriors in minutes (30 per game) and scoring (16.0 ppg). He wants to give opponents something to fear -- a jump shooter who won’t hesitate to go inside and bend the rim. He’s off to a good start.