Golden State Warriors

Is Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson a Bigger Piece of Warriors Future?

OAKLAND, CA - FEBRUARY 15:  Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors in action against the Portland Trail Blazers at Oracle Arena on February 15, 2012 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Ethan Sherwood StraussNBA Lead WriterSeptember 4, 2012

The Warriors are an "if healthy" playoff team, and not just in the minds of their most delusional supporters. But so much of that status depends on the health of one Stephen Curry.

This is where we should begin this debate. Steph Curry is likely better than Klay Thompson, and I would be shocked to see Klay ascend to a peak level higher than Steph's best. The main stumbling block for Curry is that ankle he always stumbles on. 

Make no mistake, Stephen Curry is underrated on account of these frequent ankle injuries. Curry posts a ridiculous career .584 true shooting percentage, a stat that incorporates three pointers and free throws into a field-goal mark.

With Steve Nash and Ray Allen nearing the end of their careers, Stephen Curry might be the NBA's best shooter in a matter of months. There is also a distinction between how Steph gets his shot off and how, say J.J. Reddick flings it. Curry has a viper quick release, enabling him to shoot nearly at will despite his relative small size and relatively short arms. 

It's not just the shooting ability, though. Check the moves, specifically the Hakeem fake the Warriors point guard pulls when he's feeling especially creative. 

Stephen Curry is turnover-prone, but his handle and passing vision are well above-average. He tends to get in trouble with one-hand passes. Curry can also get trapped on occasion because he lacks elite athleticism. Related to that deficit, he isn't exactly the best penetrating guard despite flaunting a crafty vertical crossover. 

In summation, Stephen Curry is an All-Star level player if healthy. That "if" is especially large, but few players are All-Star level with any degree of health. 

Klay Thompson has the chance to be merely good, I fear. First, let us heap some praise on the rookie. He is brilliant at using screens to his advantage, as you can see in this Warriors-produced clip with announcer Jim Barnett: 

It's a luxury to have a productive player who need not dominate the ball. It's especially nice for the Warriors that Klay Thompson is of real shooting guard size at a shade under 6'6" in socks. The team has been slogging along for years with undersized Monta Ellis at the two-spot. Now, it's finally free from ceding monster nights to Monta's marker.

Klay Thompson was quite impressive defensively last season, which is unusual for a rookie. He was a key cog in GSW's "Dub-stitutes" bench mob, one of the rare lineups that played effective defense at Oracle last season. 

Klay's issue, or rather, my issue with Klay, is that he might be quite the shooter that many are expecting. He posted a 42.3 percent college field-goal mark and actually exceeded expectations with 44 percent in his NBA rookie season. He has shown himself to be a capable marksmen, but observers should probably hold off on the Reggie Miller comparisons. 

Thompson also has some noted deficiencies. Like Curry, he's not an elite athlete. Unlike Curry, his handle is a bit shaky. Klay compensates by playing an off-the-ball game, but these flaws will probably hold him back from eventual All Star status.

In a perfect world, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson help each other going forward. They are both important to Golden State's future and should form a much better-fitting backcourt than the Ellis-Curry defensive sieve.

If I had to bet on one player, though, I would side with Steph. GSW needs to get much better, not a little bit better. Because of this, I'm going with the guy with a higher ceiling. 

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