Utah Jazz @ Golden State Warriors: Key Matchup

Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Because this season cannot be measured by wins and losses, I have decided it’s beneficial to focus in on key match ups this year.  As this has been dubbed a “season of discovery”, this helps us judge improvement as the season progresses.  By doing so we won’t get as disappointed when we lose as many games as we could lose.  The match up for the Utah Jazz  game tonight against the Warrios that we should focus on is:

Alec Burks vs Klay Thompson

The 2011 NBA draft was an exciting one for Jazz fans, as we had two lottery picks.  Leading up to the draft it was pretty clear that Kanter was the 3rd best prospect, and the Utah Jazz took him with their 3rd pick.  However, their 12th pick was surrounded by a lot of questions.  Would the Jazz take hometown hero Jimmer Fredette, Sweet shooter Klay Thompson, Slasher Alec Burks, March Madness star Kemba Walker, or the do-everything man in Kahwi Leonard.  I was hoping the Jazz would select Klay Thompson with their 12th pick, but Klay got picked 11th by Golden State.  After the dust settled the Jazz took Alec Burks with their pick.

Both shooting guards strengths were highly regarded, but both had flaws.  Klay was an elite scorer and spot up shooter.  However, he had trouble finishing, was considered below average on defense, and some were worried about his athleticism.  Burks was the best in this draft class at getting to the free throw line and his shot creation was great.  His biggest weakness was clearly his jump shot, which many believed would improve.

Now in their third season Klay has become an elite scorer, whereas Alec is getting his first chance at playing time.  We all know Klay can shoot the 3.  If you didn’t know that, have a look at him dropping 8/9 from 3 against the Spurs in the playoffs last year.


Klay is having a breakout season this year.  Synergy Sports shows us how great of a shooter he truly is.  The majority of Klay’s shots are off spot ups, were he shoots 54.5%.  Of those spot ups he is shooting a ridiculous 60.7% from 3.  However, he can still take you off the dribble with his 50% FG% off isolation attempts.  Addding to that is his 59.3% FG% off transitions.  Klay is averaging 1.24 points per possession, which is truly elite.

Offensively, Alec is nowhere near Klay’s level.  Alec’s is averaging nearly half of Klay’s points per possession at 0.79.  Roughly half of Alec’s possession are coming from pick and roll situations where he has a measly 30.6% FG%.  A good deal of Alec’s shots are also spot-ups, and that needs to change.  In these situations Alec is only shooting 30.0%.  The two areas that Alec is more efficient than Klay are off Cuts and in transition, but it is only slightly that he is more efficient.

While both these guards are not thought of as amazing defenders, but are proving otherwise this year.  Statistically, both Alec and Klay have been great defenders.  Alec is limiting his opponents to 0.69 points per possession, and Klay is allowing 0.75 point per possession.  League average on points per possession is 1, so we can see these two are really causing those they defend to struggle on offense.

There is no way that Alec is not bugged by all the hype that Thompson has got in his career.  I suspect his to take it hard to Klay, and try to show his worth.  Alec can get hot, and I think we will see one of those games from him tonight.  I am excited to see them both defend each other and watch them try to prove who is the best shooting guard of the 2011 NBA draft class.