Two of the breakout stars in this year's postseason.
In the midst of a stunning Golden State Warriors playoff run, there is a little bit of time to sit back and put things in perspective.
Most years, this is a backhanded compliment; something along the lines of finishing strongly at the end of the season despite owning a record far below .500. False hope, low expectations and inflated self-awareness became staples of Warriors fandom and even the front office.
However, this list is meant to provide a vision into the future while juxtaposing it with the promising present at hand.
Because for this year's Golden State Warriors, the future is as bright as the present. When's the last time we heard that?
Fact and Fiction.
There's a pendulum that swings between love and hate whenever Jarrett Jack plays basketball. On one hand, people love when he can create for himself, especially in big moments when Curry is off the ball or tired.
On the other, many people get frustrated when he over-dribbles into traffic and either turns it over or forces a long two, a bad shot.
That being said, he's been an important cog in lineups throughout the regular season and even now in the playoffs, for better or worse.
The truth comes in the fact that sometimes Curry isn't able to handle the ball, be it due to fatigue or a longer defender, and that it's better for him to come off side screens. For all of Curry's prowess as a shooter off the dribble, a spot-up 3 is also an extremely high-percentage shot.
Jack also drives much more, and when he passes will always be able to find an open Harrison Barnes or Klay Thompson.
The "fiction" answer here comes in the notion that he loses the ball too much and doesn't look to pass enough. Both are true and can stagnate an offense.
Though he won't come out of the game, Jackson did curtail his minutes in Game 2. However, he did hit a couple big shots in the fourth quarter and had a nice find to Thompson at the end of the third quarter.
Jack should and shouldn't handle the ball in crunch time, and Warriors fans will continue to swing on that brittle pendulum in the playoffs.
Barnes has been a revelation this postseason.
With David Lee going down, a combination of things have happened: Curry and Thompson have shot a bit more, Draymond Green has handled more minutes defensively (we'll get to this later) and Barnes has finally shown off his aggressive side.
He has played 13 more minutes and shot more 3s while upping his percentage from 35.9 percent to 37.2 percent. Barnes has also driven to the basket more because of how the floor is spread with Curry and Thompson manning the wings and Bogut setting screens up top.
All this fares well for his long-term play because the Warriors present so many matchup problems on offense.
On the defensive end, they can play Green and Thompson as defensive stoppers, as Bogut stops all penetration and shots at the basket.
In certain games, they may have to go big to match up, but don't look for Lee to play as many minutes next year with Barnes' emergence.
Green has shut down Andre Miller and Tony Parker in two series.
Fact. Fact. Fact.
I think that sums up how I feel about Green's defense. I won't hide it; I was in love with the Michigan State product throughout his college career and loved the pick in the second round.
Green hasn't shot well in the regular season—though his college sample size states he might get better—but he has played much better in the postseason, shooting 45 percent on threes and shutting down whomever he's guarded.
The Warriors have missed a gritty, nasty, borderline dirty perimeter defender for a long time. Essentially, he is the wing defender version of Andrew Bogut.
Together they form a wall of elbows, legs and nastiness that aims to not only stop defenders, but punish them.
His combination of quickness, agility and propensity to draw charges is invaluable to any team.
How do we define the term "superstar"?
Curry may not win out in the first two, but his play all season has been something that even the most optimistic Warriors fan will admit to not having seen coming.
Not only has he remained relatively healthy, but he put together an All-Star-caliber (snub!) season and has now coupled it with a remarkable postseason that's left the NBA landscape quivering at the sight of another fall-away three.
Zach Lowe of Grantland has an illuminating piece on how Curry has been so great in the postseason.
Duncan can still change the course of this series with a couple big games.
I guess I'll keep doubting the Warriors until they prove me wrong, it's worked so far in these playoffs.
I, amongst many others, believed the Warriors would lose to the Denver Nuggets or would need several miracle Curry performances to stay close, but they've won handily in many games.
Though the Warriors are down in the series 2-1, there's still a chance they can advance all the way to the Finals. There are two obvious scenarios here: Oklahoma City or the Memphis Grizzlies.
Due to Russell Westbrook's injury, the Thunder are the Warriors' best chance to advance. Because they play Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins, two rather ineffective offensive players, the Warriors can run with the Thunder and pose matchup problems all game.
The Grizzlies are a different story as Bogut alone cannot contain both Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. With Tony Allen and Mike Conley hounding the ball on offense, it's tough to see the Warriors advance.
Though the chances are unlikely, the fact this question has been asked is a true testament to the coaching and roster-building the organization has done this past season.