Golden State Warriors: Who Is Most Important Player After Curry?


So far this season, all the talk surrounding the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors has been about reigning MVP Stephen Curry. He was named the Western Conference Player of the Week for the first week of the season, after putting up averages of 39.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 7.3 assists in 33 minutes per game in the first three games of the season.

Curry has already made a statement for why he could win MVP again this season, and given the fact that he’s the best player on the team and arguably the best player in the league, he will always be the Warriors’ go-to scorer and their leader.

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In terms of the offense, Klay Thompson is most likely the Warriors’ secondary scorer behind Curry, but is Thompson truly the Warriors’ x-factor? The Warriors are a team that can win games even when one or two key players are struggling, and the x-factor could even change night to night, depending on matchups and which player is on a hot streak at the time.

There might be some nights though that someone has to step up behind Curry and help lead the way when and if (and that’s a big if, at this point) Curry has an off night or the Warriors simply need a boost from someone else. Who would be another player, besides Curry, who needs to perform well for the Warriors to be successful most nights?

Thompson is certainly one of them. He’s had a somewhat quiet start to the season though. He’s currently averaging 13.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in 26.1 minutes per game, after averaging 21.7 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 2.9 assists in 31.9 minutes per game last season.

One of the biggest differences for Thompson so far between last season and this season though has been his shot attempts. Last season, he averaged 16.9 shot attempts per game, and this season, he’s averaging 10. This can most likely be attributed to the fact that Curry has taken more shots per game (21.0 shot attempts per game so far this season compared to 16.8 last season) during his hot streak so far this season.

Thompson has shown flashes of inconsistency and some streakiness though. He can go off for 37 points in a quarter, but there are also times where he struggles to find his shot. This can be said about pretty much every shooter though, so this isn’t a totally fair criticism.

Another player who could be considered equally as important as Thompson is Draymond Green, who is currently averaging 12.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 5.3 assists in 31.2 minutes per game. So far this season, Green has appeared to be just as passionate and hard-working on and off the court as usual. He contributes in so many different ways, he fights for rebounds and possessions, he makes smart passes, his shot selection is generally good, and he does a lot of little things to help the team run smoothly.

When Green is getting others involved, taking smart shots, and defending and rebounding at the high level that he normally does, the team tends to do extremely well. He is perhaps more influential than Thompson is just because he contributes to the team in almost every facet of the game every night.

Another player who is extremely valuable to this Warriors team, in a similar way to Green, is Andre Iguodala. Like Green, Iguodala contributes significantly on a nightly basis. Iguodala’s stat line on any given night doesn’t accurately portray how important he is to the Warriors. His defense, his high basketball IQ, his versatility, his clutch instinct, his ability to push the pace and excel in transition, and his leadership are so vital to the Warriors’ success.

October 5, 2015; San Jose, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) and guard Stephen Curry (30) smile against the Toronto Raptors during the first half in a preseason game at SAP Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

He leads the Warriors’ second unit and also has to flow well with the starters, which is an underrated quality. He is a valuable sixth man, but he doesn’t necessarily spark the team as a traditional sixth man does by scoring often and in bursts. Iguodala sparks the team with his high-level, all-around play and his intangibles, which could certainly make him one of the Warriors’ most important x-factors.

These three players are certainly the leading candidates for the Warriors player who needs to perform well, in addition to Curry, for the Warriors to have success. It could be any of those players on any given night, and other players could step up and be even more valuable on certain nights too such as Andrew Bogut, Harrison Barnes, Shaun Livingston, Marreese Speights, and more.

A legitimate argument can be made for which player is the most important behind Curry, but given the fact that the Warriors are a team that perform best when everyone is contributing, it’s hard to pick just one. Which player do you think is the second most important Warrior behind Curry?

Next: Stephen Curry Is Cooking Up a Storm This Season