LAS VEGAS – Over the last five years, there have been only two players who attempted at least 500 3-pointers in a season and made at least 40 percent of them (see table below). They both played in the Golden State Warriors’ backcourt last season.
Stephen Curry set an NBA record with 272 threes and Klay Thompson wasn’t far behind. Warriors coach Mark Jackson called them the best shooting backcourt of all time and it’s hard to argue.
Curry was a member of the 2010 World Championship team that won gold in Istanbul and is definitely in the mix for the rosters that will go to Spain for the 2014 World Cup and to Rio for the 2016 Olympics. Thompson, meanwhile, is here this week trying to make an impression on USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo and head coach Mike Krzyzewski.
He certainly made an impression on Tuesday, hitting several threes during scrimmages. And the U.S. could certainly use a guy who can do that against zone defenses that pack the paint. But that performance came after making the adjustments that every NBA shooter must make when they transition to international ball.
The first is a shorter (by 19 inches) 3-point line. The second is a different kind of basketball, made by Molten and with extra panels.
Thompson actually likes both differences.
“It’s mid-range,” he said of the international arc. “The first day, it takes some getting used to. But after the first day, it’s like going back to college. It’s so much easier.”
And the ball?
“It just takes a day to get used to,” he said. “It’s a different kind of feel, but I like the ball. It grew on me.”
He guessed he shot 20 percent on Monday and closer to 80 percent on Tuesday. But he also knows that to make the national team roster, he’ll have to do more than just knock down shots.
“If I rebound, hustle and defend,” Thompson said, “I think I’ll be good to go.”
He’ll get one more chance to do that on Thursday, when the 24 healthy NBA players in camp will take part on the USA Basketball Showcase, which will be televised on NBA TV at 9 p.m. ET.
At least 500 3-point attempts at 40 percent or better, NBA history