Very few players in basketball have the ability to single-handedly dictate the outcome of the game.
Even superstars require key running mates and role players to field a competitive team. On Jan. 23, Klay Thompson transcended the line between superstar and legend. For just over 24 minutes, the Warriors and Kings played to a draw. Less than 12 minutes later, the Warriors had sprinted ahead by 24. Thompson’s efforts are just one of his many attempts to one up and keep up with his backcourt partner and MVP-candidate Stephen Curry. While Curry’s star has been shining much longer than Thompson’s has, both have solid claim to being the most valuable player on the Warriors right now. And together, no other backcourt in the league can boast the skills, talent and chemistry as the Warriors’ tandem does.
As much as the Warriors are an incredible team, they are also loaded with individual talent. Curry’s otherworldly shooting, passing and handling abilities make him arguably the most difficult player to contain:
The Warriors’ top-ranked offense runs uninterrupted with Curry at the helm, and there is very little that anyone can do to slow him down.
Thompson continues to blow the doors off of his coming-out party with his historic night. Pegged as a “3 and D” player during the draft, Thompson has proven to everyone he is capable of becoming a top-5 player in the league. In two games in Houston, against arguably the best shooting guard in the league and possibly the best scorer, Thompson held James Harden to 22 points and 12 assists combined. For reference, Harden currently leads the league in scoring at 27.6 points per game.
Soaring Down South
On offense, he’s improved by leaps and bounds, upping his own average from 18.4 points per game to 22.8 from last year. In contrast, his field goal attempts per game has only increased from 15.5 to 16.8. That’s an increase of 4.4 points on only an extra 1.3 field goal attempts. Thompson’s dramatic improvement continues to impress even the most optimistic fans and it may not be farfetched to see him compete with Curry, Kevin Durant or Anthony Davis for MVP honors in the near future.
Beyond the Splash Brothers, the Warriors boast a collection of guards that could easily start for several other teams in the league. Shaun Livingston, who outplayed Deron Williams on the Nets for much of last year, has become the glue for the Warriors, capable of playing with everyone from the starters down to the bench players. Leandro Barbosa has not quite carved the role as Livingston, but has provided very capable scoring in times of need.
From top to bottom, the Warriors field an incredible amount of scoring, defense, passing, talent and experience. In a league dominated by guards, the Warriors have an embarrassment of riches.