OAKLAND -- The bane for Klay Thompson as he develops into one of the best two-way players in the NBA is that some nights are going to be a lot more taxing than others, especially when he draws a top point guard as his primary defensive assignment.
There is no doubt Thompson is off to a terrific start to his third pro season, but a pattern has developed over the Warriors' first seven games that does raise an eyebrow. Quite simply, when Thompson has been asked to do heavy duty defensive work on a constantly moving veteran point guard, his offensive numbers have taken a noticeable dip.
In the Warriors' three losses, Thompson has spent a major amount of his defensive time chasing the Los Angeles Clippers' Chris Paul, the San Antonio Spurs' Tony Parker and the Memphis Grizzlies' Mike Conley, three of the best in the business. But at the offensive end in those games, he averaged 11.0 points on 36.1 percent shooting, and he's just 4 for 15 from 3-point range (26.7 percent).
In Golden State's four wins, during which Thompson's defensive efforts were a bit less detailed and definitely less strenuous, he has averaged 27.5 points, shooting 59.4 percent (41 for 69) from the floor and 56.3 percent (18 for 32) from beyond the arc.
Thompson acknowledged the numbers. Then he promptly dismissed them as irrelevant.
"That's what I signed for, to guard the better players and score points," he said. "I'm happy to do that, that's what the best players do. So to get to that level, I just have to keep working."
So the offensive disparity is nothing to worry about?
"Yeah, it's probably just coincidence," he said. "I did it last year, so I don't see a lot of difference."
Admittedly, it's a very small sample size, but perhaps it bears watching. Coach Mark Jackson is aware that Thompson takes on a heavy load virtually every game when he draws the toughest backcourt defensive assignment and also is counted on to take a larger chunk of the scoring load.
Guarding point guards such as Paul, Parker and Conley definitely ups the ante, Jackson acknowledged.
"I think it's true that he uses a lot of his energy on the defensive end, but Klay's a great shooter," he said. "I think at San Antonio, the difference is that he doesn't have Steph (Curry) in the ballgame offensively stretching the floor. So not only is he working defensively, but now he has their best defender in (Kawhi) Leonard draped all over him, which makes it tough."
Jackson added that such variables from night to night are a fact of life in the NBA and that you have to fight through them to develop a consistency.
"We're going to ask guys to put a demand on their body and expect them to come through," he said.
While quick to point out he's not going to overreact to anything that occurred on the trip, Jackson admitted the loss to the Grizzlies was disappointing.
"We're a no-excuse basketball team, and we did not play the way we expect to play," Jackson said. "They outworked us, they were the more physical team, they were the smarter team. We couldn't get over the hump. We were all disappointed with what took place in Memphis."
"I don't know where he is as far as being 100 percent, but I know we've gone through the process, and he's feeling better," the coach said. "We obviously had a certain number (of minutes) we wanted to play him the last couple of games. But now moving forward, unless something else occurs, I think I'll be able to play him as much as I want."
Detroit (2-4) at Warriors (4-3), 7:30 p.m. CSNBA