“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. Curry and Thompson continue to lead the league in three point field goals every season. They made them at the right times and the “rain” seemed to never stop.
Reflecting back to the revolutionary Monta Ellis trade, a question pops up: what’s the difference between Klay Thompson and Ellis? Why does this current 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 guards players like Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams, and Tony Parker.
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 Andrew Bogut to go to work inside. With Ellis, Lee never received that opportunity. He is averaging more since Ellis was traded.
Under Mark Jackson for three seasons, Curry and Thompson established their reputations as the best shooters in the NBA and showed that they could function as a solid backcourt in the NBA.. Now, under legendary 3-point marksmen, Steve Kerr, there’s no telling what they will be able to do.
Since Kerr is one of the all-time greats in 3-point shooting, he’s going to be able to design a lot more plays for a Curry and Thompson 3-pointer and jump-shot. Not only will these two guys be the primary scorers again, they just might be the best backcourt in the league, and possibly of the last decade and recent memory. If Kerr is determined to get these guys more opened shots, then they are going to have field days.
Even when Thompson is off, he is still going to get some open shots, and he usually doesn’t miss those. Knocking on wood, I think Curry and Thompson are going to have solid chances to both average 22 points per game or more, maybe even shooting the Warriors’ way to a better record and two all-star positions. I’m speaking very highly of them, yes, but I believe the only roadblock to this attainable goal is consistency.