Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson occupy a court together for an average of 31.9 minutes per game. For every second of those minutes, perimeter defense becomes a waking nightmare for opponents of the Golden State Warriors.
Curry boasts the second-best three-point percentage in the NBA (regular Season, after Atlanta’s Kyle Korver), and now leads the NBA Playoffs in assists per game. Thompson plays fantastic perimeter defense, and is a knock-down shooter that can hang with the best in the league. Though he can have dry spells.
Both have displayed an ability to get to the rim and score as well, making them much more than one-dimensional shooters. They are facilitators as well, logging a combined 15.8 assists-per-game, all the while shooting over 46 percent from the field, and 41.9 percent from behind the arc.
And, at 6.2 three-pointers made per game, they have the highest percentage of any backcourt combo while also shooting long range shots at a high volume. Moreover, they account for the most rebounds per game of any starting guard set at 22.4, and are top-five in steals per game at 4.7. Unfortunately, they rank highly in combined turnovers per game as well, at 9.8.
What makes all these stats even more impressive is how young these two players are. Thompson is only in his second year, having been forced abruptly into a leadership role last season in Curry’s absence due to injury. Curry just turned 23, and has caught fire, exceeding all expectations both for him and his team all year. Thompson has turned into a court leader, and a Bay Area household name at 23 years of age.
This youth, however, also makes them vulnerable to errors due to their inexperience, such as poor decision making (which leads to some of those turnovers). These players are already making a huge impact on the NBA. Not only have the Warriors left the cellar, but they have become contenders, a team that can hang with the best of them on any given day.
So, are they the best backcourt in the NBA?
That’s a hard question to answer given their penchant for turnovers, Curry’s questionable defense and Thompson’s occasional cold streaks, it seems premature to bestow that title on them. Granted, they may be the best one where both pieces share more equal duty, since most of the other high-quality ones are carried by a superstar.
Jeremy Lin and James Harden have evolved well over the season, with Harden turning into a star in his own right. Russell Westbrook (despite his current injury) and Thabo Sefolosha combine for a formidable guard set. Kobe Bryant is still the best shooting guard in the league, and Steve Nash at point is one of the best point guards of the modern era as well as one of the best shooters in the history of the game.
However, none of these other sets have the same tendency for pure shooting attacks, three-point attempts and jumper-heavy approach to offense with the same level of success. If the Warriors don’t quite have the best backcourt yet, they definitely have the best shooting one.
The best part of all of this, though, is that these two players are so young and so good. They have plenty of years ahead of them, and have yet to hit their prime. It won’t be long until they’re the best, and for now they’re just getting started.
*All statistics from NBA Statistics, two-man lineups