OAKLAND -- Warriors second-year guard Klay Thompson said he knows more is expected of him. And he knows all about the sophomore slump.
Is Thompson is feeling any pressure?
"Nope," he said at his locker before the game, his feet propped on rookie Harrison Barnes' chair while he watches game film. "I'm confident. I know I'm a big piece of this team now. That gives me confidence."
Thompson said he expects things to go easier for him in his second season. He's put in the work to improve his game. But he's also gotten a lot of help around him, preventing opponents from focusing too much on him.
Warriors fans are hoping he's right because, in many ways, the Warriors' success is hinged on Thompson's ability to build on his promising rookie season.
Thompson -- at 6-foot-7, 205 pounds -- is supposed to be the traditional shooting guard the Warriors have long needed. He's viewed as one of the promising young players in the NBA. And the Warriors need him to be exactly that.
And Thompson, who plays as if he has a chip on his shoulder, is eager to prove he's ready. He said he hears the whispers about what he can't do louder than the praise that's been heaped on him. He said it gives him an edge on the court.
"Yeah, I'm one of them guys who finds motivation anywhere," Thompson said. "I don't follow all the stuff people say, but you hear things. And everyone wants to be the perfect player."
Thompson has had a busy summer.
After a relatively short break, Thompson returned to Oakland early and has been working out daily.
His focus this summer was developing other parts of his game. Thompson said the best scorers in the league know how to create offense, make stuff happen out of nothing. To that end, he played a lot of one-on-one, two-on-two and three-on-three hoops. He used those settings, often against rookie point guard Charles Jenkins, to improve his driving.
"It's best when you have a live man defending you," Thompson said. "You can do the drills, stuff with a chair and all that. But nothing replaces someone defending you."
In the exhibition opener against the Los Angeles Lakers, Thompson was all too eager to test his off-the-dribble game on Kobe Bryant. Three straight times Thompson went straight to the basket, successfully getting to the rim through traffic.
In Thursday night's game against Maccabi Haifa, Warriors coach Mark Jackson even ran a set where Thompson played point guard and Curry moved off the ball. Thompson used a screen to get in the lane.
"He is attacking the rim a lot more now," said swingman Brandon Rush, arguably the Warriors' best perimeter defender. "He's not just relying on his jumper. He's so tough to guard. You never know what he's going to do."
Thompson's shot is still the center of his game. But this season, he'll need to do more than hoist jumpers.
He'll have to defend. He'll need to rebound, more than the 2.4 rebounds he averaged last season. He'll need to get to the free throw line more than 1.3 times per game, and be more efficient than 44.3 percent from the field.
"One thing you can say about Klay," Jackson said, "he competes. He's put in the work and you know he's going to go out there and battle."