OAKLAND — Klay Thompson became on Monday the first Warrior to score 60 or more points since Rick Barry did it in 1974.
But don’t count Barry as someone surprised by that development after watching Steve Kerr’s ball-movement heavy offense for the last few years.
“It’s great validation for watching how basketball works when you pass the ball around to get 40-plus assists and you got to the man with the hot hand,” Barry said when reached by phone on Tuesday, “that’s the way the game is supposed to be played.”
The NBA Hall of Famer scored more than 50 points in 14 NBA games during his career. And he did that without the benefit of a 3-point line.
“I probably would’ve scored a number of 60-point games, having scored a lot of games in the 50s, if they had a 3-point shot because I actually would’ve tried to perfect that,” Barry said when asked how many 60-plus outbursts he would’ve had if they trey-ball were available to him. “I didn’t shoot that far out because you still only got two points. So I tried to get to the basket and didn’t think about shooting from that distance.”
The game has evolved a few times from when Barry played, but Thompson sees himself as a throwback as a player who prefers to create his shots by moving without the ball.
“That’s been my MO since I got in this league is to mimic guys like Reggie Miller, Ray Allen, Rip Hamilton, Chris Mullin, guys who really use their teammates to set themselves up and did it for decades in this league,” he said at practice on Tuesday.
Thompson has his scoring explosion despite playing just 29 minutes, having the ball for about 90 seconds and taking 11 dribbles. All those numbers highlight his status as the best catch-and-shoot player in the NBA.
Kerr took the blame for his shooting guard not scoring more, preferring to not tempt the “basketball gods” by overplaying his starters in a blowout. He chose a famous quip about a legendary North Carolina head coach and Michael Jordan to drive his point home.
“They said Dean Smith was the only guy who could hold under 20,” Kerr said. “I’m the only guy who can hold Klay under 80, I guess.”