However, would breaking up the arguably best shooting backcourt in the NBA for a top-five power forward propel the Warriors into title contention?
Thompson, who comprises of half of the Warrior’s dynamic scoring “Splash Brothers,” undoubtedly displayed tremendous growth during his third NBA season. With better shot selection, improved slashing ability, and a knack for defending the opposing team’s best guard, Thompson has arguably developed the skills needed to be a premier shooting guard in this league. It can be hard to find another player who knocked down more than 200 threes in consecutive seasons.
His tremendous ability to shoot lights-out along with his length and speed on defense has made him a valuable asset to the Warriors. However, does he compliment Stephen Curry well enough to forfeit the chance of acquiring a proven All-Star in Love?
By giving away Thompson, the Warriors would be losing a good two-way guard that compliments their star player defensively by guarding opposing point guards. The scary part is that Thompson has shown outstanding potential and is improving year-by-year, making him highly coveted by teams around the league.
However, the Warriors would be acquiring an offensive juggernaut in Love. Love’s ability to create his own shot, post up and space the floor with his ability to hit shots from the perimeter could transform the Warriors into a superb offensive team. Love, who averaged 26.1 points, 12.4 rebounds, and 4.4 assists in the 2013-2014 season, produces stats that are only put up by top players in the league. Fans can salivate at the idea of Curry and Love pick-and-rolls, especially with Love’s serviceable jumpers, which David Lee essentially abandoned last season.
This would disrupt many defensive schemes given Curry’s tendency of shooting the three over screens. Because of Love’s offensive repertoire, he would not clog up the lane with Andrew Bogut on the floor. He also showcases beautiful passing ability, and with Andre Iguodala or Harrison Barnes running the floor, Love’s long outlet passes could be devastating for opposing teams.
A common worry for Warriors fans is Love’s defensive capabilities. This can be solved since he will be playing alongside Andrew Bogut, a top defensive center. In Minnesota, Love did not have the luxury of a shot-blocking big, but with the Warriors, his lack of quickness on defense can be masked by funneling driving players into Bogut. Love’s ability to pull down defensive rebounds at an elite rate also somewhat makes up for his weakness.
With the Warriors’ recent acquisition of veteran guard Shaun Livingston, moving Thompson for Love seems like the rational move to make. While Livingston doesn’t possess Klay’s invaluable ability to space the floor, he has the length and the quickness to defend quick guards and larger forwards. Livingston also showcases playmaking abilities, averaging 4.5 assists per 36 minutes last season with Brooklyn. Losing Klay suddenly doesn’t seem so bad, especially since he will command an expensive contract after this season.
Ultimately, the Warriors will have to give up a key piece like Thompson in order to land a top player like Love. While it will be sad to see a fan-favorite and a beloved member of the Splash Brothers leave, the sacrifice might be worth it if it means landing Kevin Love.