Klay Thompson has blunt response to fourth-quarter benching by Steve Kerr

The Golden State Warriors closed Tuesday's game with Chris Paul and Brandin Podziemski instead of Klay Thompson.
Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors
Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors / Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden State Warriors fell three games below .500 with a 119-116 loss to the Phoenix Suns, absent Kevin Durant, on Tuesday night. Stephen Curry was the only starter to score double digits, registering 24 points. He was also the only starter to eclipse 30 minutes.

Steve Kerr leaned heavily on the bench, in part due to necessity — Draymond Green was ejected in the third quarter — and in part due to the continued ineffectiveness of his veteran core. Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, and Kevon Looney were all on the bench for the game's final six-minute stretch.

After preaching patience with Thompson and the Warriors' vets all season, Kerr said Tuesday "did not feel like a night to have a lot of patience."

Golden State closed with Curry, Chris Paul, Brandin Podziemski, Jonathan Kuminga, and Dario Saric. It's hard to argue with the decision. Thompson finished the game with seven points on 2-of-10 shooting (1-of-8 from deep) in 27 minutes. The rookie Podziemski poured in 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting with 11 rebounds and five assists in 29 minutes.

Thompson, in a contract year, has played maybe the worst basketball of his career. For the season, he is averaging 15.4 points on lackluster .397/.343/.889 splits. Thompson will go down as one of the best 3-point shooters in NBA history, and there's reason to believe the jumper will come back around eventually.

That said, Thompson's value is lacking beyond the jumper. He's no longer a plus defender on the wing — in fact, he's often a severe negative. He has never been one to dribble or make advanced decisions with the ball. Take away the movement 3s, and Thompson becomes a rather restrictive piece to Golden State's overall execution.

After the game, Thompson admitted frustration about the situation, but said Kerr made the right choice.

"I trust Steve. I trust Steve now and forever will."

Klay Thompson offers frank assessment of his performance after being benched in Warriors loss

Thompson is being honest. His performance has been quite crappy of late. He has earned a lifetime benefit of the doubt, but the Warriors can ill-afford to let their season slip away if Thompson is the anchor holding them in place. The contract situation is unfortunate — there's no way Thompson gets a max from the Warriors or anybody else at this rate — but Thompson has been virtually unplayable at points.

There will forever be gravity tethered to Thompson's jumper and it's hard to imagine the 3-point percentage sitting below league average all season. But, with Podziemski looking immediately impactful, Moses Moody on the upswing, and Jonathan Kuminga deserving of more minutes, it's impossible to justify an unwavering commitment to Thompson. Kerr needs to make the best personnel decisions on a game-to-game basis. If Thompson doesn't have it, he can't close. It's that simple.

Kerr has been able to hide his aversion to youth behind the titanic stature of his vets in years past, but Golden State's entire starting five outside of Curry has underperformed to date. Looney and Wiggins joined Thompson on the pine late in the fourth quarter, so it's not like Thompson was singled out. Meanwhile, Curry has been at his typical MVP level. He deserves the best collection of players around him in crunch time. Right about now, that would appear to involve CP3 and Podziemski, or maybe Moses Moody. Not Thompson and Wiggins.

There is time for Thompson to get right, but for the first time all season, Kerr made a hard pivot away from his vets in a high-profile game. That's notable.

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