Klay Thompson Is King of the ‘Garbage Time All-Stars' and Here's Why

Through the Warriors' first 36 games this season, Klay Thompson averaged 20.9 points while shooting 43.6 percent overall and 33.3 percent from deep.

Starting on Dec. 29, he turned things around.

Over his last 28 games, the five-time All-Star is averaging 24.7 points while shooting better than 52 percent overall and 48.3 percent from 3-point range.

NBC Sports NBA Insider Tom Haberstroh took a deep dive into the analytics and found something interesting about Klay's campaign so far.

"Of the top 25 scorers, no one saw their scoring numbers jump during garbage time more than Thompson. He scores 29.5 points per 36 minutes when the Warriors are either leading or trailing by more than 15 points compared to 22.7 points per 36 minutes when it's within five or less. That's not just a matter of touches. Thompson's field-goal percentage also drops from 54 percent to 46 percent when the games are more competitive, a decline anchored by a 3-point percentage that sinks from 49 percent to 36 percent in the same situation.

This isn't an isolated case, either. Though he's certainly had his playoff moments (sorry, OKC), Thompson has also seen his scoring shrink in the playoffs when the competition is stronger than in the regular season. The sharpshooter has averaged more than 20 points per game in each of the previous four regular seasons but has reached that plateau just once in the past four postseasons.

It could be that playoff teams try to take away Thompson first and then deal with the rest of the Warriors. Teams could also be keying in on Thompson a lot more when the game is close and loosen their grip when the game seems out of hand. But either way, Thompson's scoring rate jumps 6.7 points in garbage time, the highest in this group."

So when the Warriors are up big or down big, Klay is typically hot. And when the score is tight, Klay's shooting percentages dip.

Hard to argue with those numbers. But let's provide a little more context using some other statistics.

According to NBA.com, Klay has been really solid in "clutch time" (score within five points with less than five minutes remaining in the game) this year, despite getting way less shots than his teammates:

-Klay Thompson = 116 minutes, 19-for-41 overall (46.3 percent), 9-for-22 from deep (41 percent)
-Steph Curry = 97 minutes, 28-for-60 overall (46.7 percent), 15-for-34 from deep (44 percent)
-Kevin Durant = 117 minutes, 30-for-72 overall (41.7 percent), 8-for-21 from deep (38 percent)

For comparison sake, here are how some of the other star players in the NBA are performing in the "clutch" this year:

-Joel Embiid = 39.7 percent
-James Harden = 38 percent
-Paul George = 37.3 percent
-Damian Lillard = 37.3 percent
-Donovan Mitchell = 35.1 percent
-Russell Westbrook = 34.1 percent

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Pretty eye-opening, right?

Furthermore, it will be fun to track the "garbage time All-Star" numbers the rest of the way.

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