“The Splash Brothers,” as Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry are now called, have live up to their reputations as the best shooting backcourt in the NBA. In the month of December, Curry and Thompson lead the league in three point field goals. They made them at the right times and the “rain” seemed to never stop.
What’s the difference between Klay Thompson and Monta Ellis? Why does this backcourt work?
Well, let’s take a look at the real reasons and true expectations of a functional backcourt:
The point guards and shooting guards are the ones who handle the ball most of the time. What if, however, you start two point guards? This is essentially what the Warriors did. Although Monta Ellis truly played as a SG: hitting three pointers, driving to the basket, and finishing over big men, he still had the mindset of PG. In fact, he’s listed as a PG this season. Ellis and Curry often fought for possession of the ball. Even though they were both explosive and ranked amongst the best backcourts in the NBA, no proper plays could be ran because Ellis hogged the ball.
With Thompson, he’s catch and shoot. No offense to him, but his ball handling skills aren’t the greatest. He’s a true SG: he will spot up in the corner and make the right decision. Whether it’s curling to the basket, off of a screen, or feeding the big man down low, you can trust Thompson to make a good play.
At 6’3, Ellis posed no threat and struggled to guard other SG’s such as Kobe Bryant. Although he had a phenomenal post up game, he still found himself getting muscled up. He struggled on the defensive end to guard 6’5 guys and ended up giving up points at will.
With Thompson being 6’7, he has no problem. He’s so tall that defenders can hardly post him up. Then, when they attempt to make a drive to the basket, Thompson contains them pretty well. He can stay with guys that are smaller than him, as well as play bigger players. He’s an ideal defender. The day before Thanksgiving, Klay Thompson limited Deron Williams to 9 points on a very low shooting percentage.
The Splash Brothers both shoot the three ball at high percentages and often have defenders running all over the place. With Ellis, defenders were more inclined to clog the lane.
This opens opportunities for big men like David Lee and Carl Landry to go to work inside. With Ellis, Lee never received that opportunity. He is averaging more PPG than he did last year.
For all these reasons, the Warriors’ backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson is one of the most consistent and efficient tandems in the league.