Is it Stephen Curry, is it Andre Iguodala, is it David Lee?
No. These would be the obvious answers to a seemingly easy question, but none of these players are the Warriors’ most important. Curry is and will be the face of the franchise for years to come. Iguodala is one of the most complete players in the NBA today and Lee is an All-Star with an unique adeptness to score on the inside.
The one player that everyone overlooks, however, is Klay Thompson. Not only does he constantly draw difficult defensive tasks, but he consistently gets some good steals as well as blocks. He’s a terrific defender and helps the Warriors shut down superstars just enough to get their foots in the door. He defensive game, however, is nothing compared to his shooting touch.
Curry has the 3-point king title claimed. This is something we know for sure. Not far behind him in terms of makes and percentage, however, is Thompson, who has been shooting torridly thus far. Averaging 20.4 points per game this season, Thompson is the Warriors’ leading scorer so far. He’s also been averaging more minutes per game than Curry because the Dubs know that they need him on the floor.
What defines him as the most important player? Well, in his particular case, even when he’s suffering through an off night, he stays on the floor because Mark Jackson knows he’s going to work hard on defense and give you everything he has on the court. Other than that, he’s making smarter decisions and playing the passing lanes. He plays like a veteran, and knows how to get inside the head of some. He’s already had more 30+ point games this season this year than he had last year.
As we all know, the Warriors are off to a hot start at 6-3 on the season. In these nine games, Thompson the Warriors are a plus-78 in points while he’s on the court. The Warriors need him if they want to win.
This is true improvement. He won’t be an All-Star and he’s not going to draw attention around the league other than from the teams that he’s playing on any given night. He’s a clutch performer and knows what to do in certain situations. Curry has all of this skill, but only performs on the offensive end.
If Thompson was to get injured (knocking on wood), the Warriors would be missing a lot of intensity on the defensive end, and they would also be missing the fear that they’re able to instill in other teams from the spacing they get from him. Curry is the most dangerous player on the court, but when Thompson gets going, he’s also very hard to stop.
That inconsistency that he showed last season at times seems to be gone now. If the Dubs want to find greatness, they’re going to have to rely on Thompson as one of their go-to scorers right next to Curry. I’m not saying Thompson is the Warriors’ All-Star, but I am saying that he’s their most important player. It may not seem different, but it is.