Lineup No. 3: Bench Klay Thompson
Starters: Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, Kevon Looney
We make a subtle shift here, from starting lineup combinations that should clearly be rejected to those that should at least be carefully considered. This configuration would move the second Splash Brother to the bench for the first time since his rookie season; he has started every game since 2012, regular season and playoffs.
The case for it would be that Thompson’s best defensive role at this point in his career is defending forwards, and in the starting lineup there are already multiple players better capable of doing that. His shooting is obviously lethal playing alongside Stephen Curry, but it could also be a major boon to spacing the court for bench lineups. In terms of pure impact Thompson is beginning to ride the downslope of his career more so than Curry and Green at this point.
The reasons you don’t move Thompson to the bench are even more clear, however. The impact of having not one but two all-time shooters on the court exponentially stretches defenses, often past their breaking point. The actions he and Curry can run together without the ball is unlike any other team in the league, and it’s been a key to the Warriors’ dominance over the past decade.
Of all of the players in the mix here, Klay would also be the most impacted emotionally by being pushed to the bench. That has to be factored in; it mattered with Harrison Barnes and it mattered with Jordan Poole. Thompson gains confidence as a shooter and as a player by being a part of the starting lineup, likely making that the best place for him, at least for another season.