Late last week, former NBA star and current TNT analyst Charles Barkley said that the Warriors’ backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson “can’t play together,” and suggested at some point down the line one would have to be traded.
The comment drew general consternation from Warriors’ fans – or so it seems – who logically argued that their team was having one of their best seasons in decades and that a good chunk of that success had to be given to the backcourt.
So how could Curry and Thompson possibly not be able to play together?
The problem with Barkley’s statement was that it was too strong. Of course, Curry and Thompson can play together. That’s what they’re doing right now.
But to my way of thinking Barkley has a legitimate point, just one that was significantly overstated and exaggerated.
It certainly is fair to ask whether Curry and Thompson are a compatible backcourt and one that can grow together moving forward.
I happen to agree with Barkley’s general premise that Curry and Thompson aren’t the best fit together and that push may come to shove as the team tries to improve moving forward.
The main reason I believe that Curry could have a better backcourt partner than Thompson is because Curry is such a great shooter that it would probably be more advantageous for the Warriors to pair him with more of a playmaker.
It’s not that Thompson cant pass, it’s that it’s not his strength; shooting the ball is. So, what we have in the Warriors’ backcourt is two players whose greatest strength is shooting the ball.
That might not sound like a problem – and on the surface, it isn’t. But if you peel things away a little bit you can see that every time Curry goes out of his way to find Thompson – or any other teammate, for that matter – he’s not doing the thing that he’s actually best at.
The more Curry tries to do point guard things, the less shooting he does, and I’m not sure that’s a good thing for Golden State. That doesn’t mean Curry should never play point guard, but what it does mean is that he should certainly play some two.
And then, to compound things a bit, you have a sensational shooter in Curry, but you don’t have a backcourt mate to go along with him who is adept at finding him.
What Barkley believes most is that Curry is a shooting guard and not a point guard. Again, Barkley is probably onto something but it’s just not that simple.
Curry certainly isn’t a “true” point guard but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t play the one at all. To me, Curry is a one-and-a-half, a player who should probably play both spots … depending.
The rule – rather than the exception – is that Curry has finished games at the two this season with Jarrett Jack at the one. That one-two punch has been terrific in the fourth quarter of games, and it’s hard to argue that it hasn’t benefitted both Curry and Jack as well as the team.
Curry is one of the league’s leading scorers in the fourth quarter of games, and Jack certainly has something to do with it.
The Warriors signed Curry to a four-year contract extension before the season, and the organization has not been shy about making it clear it thinks Thompson is a keeper.
It’s obvious owner Joe Lacob and general manager Bob Myers disagree with Barkley and believe Curry and Thompson can play together.
And they can. But this is really about how well they can play together and whether or not there might be a better partner out there for one of them.