Negotiations are a time for agents to wax hyperbolic about their clients to try and drive up their price. Nobody debates this, or really has an issue with it. It is an understood fact of contract negotiations in the NBA.
When agent claims become contentious, it seems, is when they stir up debate. That was the case on Tuesday, when an article from Sam Amick of USA Today Sports quoted Bill Duffy as calling his client Klay Thompson the league's best two-way shooting guard.
I don't want (Los Angeles Lakers star) Kobe Bryant to go crazy, but there's some uncertainty as to who he is right now (because of injuries that limited him to six games last season). But I think Klay Thompson right now is the top two-way two-guard in basketball. I think when you look at his body of work, when you look at what he accomplished guarding point guards on a regular basis (last season), I think it's pretty clear.
The comment was cause for a great deal of online debate between fans and analysts, as was a further comment from Mychal Thompson, the former Los Angeles Laker and the father of Klay Thompson:
I've been telling him (he's the best two-way shooting guard) for a couple of years now. Everybody knows that he can score, but I always told him I'm so proud of how he takes so much pride in defense as he does with scoring.
It seems strange, at first blush, to call Thompson the league's best two-way shooting guard, because he doesn't really have that star quality attached to his name yet, nor is he particularly elite on the other end. Good, or even very good? Sure, but the best?
Well, it becomes a narrower argument when the state of today's shooting guard is examined: James Harden is the best offensively but a terrible defender, Dwyane Wade is aging, Manu Ginobili's workload is minimized, Lance Stephenson and Jimmy Butler remain somewhat unproven, DeMar DeRozan isn't there yet, and who knows what Kobe Bryant we'll get in 2014-15.
What's more, the phrasing of "best two-way" calls into question the value of offense and defense against each other. You may prefer Harden overall, but still be able to justify Thompson as the best "two-way" player at the position. It's linguistic gymnastics, really, but it's also mid-September, and these kind of debates are good for some fun.
Duffy and Mychal Thompson are going to say wonderful things about their client and son, respectively, as they work to negotiate a maximum contract extension with the Golden State Warriors before the Oct. 31 deadline. Thompson is a terrific shooter and a great on-ball defender – he was USA's best perimeter defensive option in the FIBA World Cup – but he struggles to create his own shot and distribute for others.
Is that production, and some untapped upside remaining at age 24, worth the max? Probably not, but a FIBA gold medal and a claim, however much you agree or disagree, that he's the best two-way two-guard in the league may be enough to get it for him.
Feature photo courtesy of USA Today Sports/Kevin Jairaj