How Stephen Curry Makes Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors Better

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How Stephen Curry Makes Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors Better
Rocky Widner/Getty Images
Stephen Curry is back from his concussion and looks to get the Warriors back on track

Klay Thompson should be thanking Stephen Curry.  

Thompson is having a career year and although I'm sure Klay worked his butt off this offseason, he wouldn't be as successful without Stephen Curry and his special ability to make his teammates better.

We all know Stephen Curry can shoot. That's a given.  But his talent and unique style of play go way beyond fundamental skills.    

Stephen Curry's ability to draw defenders and then make a split-second decision on whether to shoot, pass or continue to dribble is what makes him so special.

Not only can he attract defenders like a magnet, he knows what to do when they collapse on him.

He creates 20.4 points per game off assists, good for fourth in the NBA. That's almost 20 percent of the Golden State Warriors' 101.7 points per game.

Curry averages 8.9 assists per game, tied with John Wall for second in the league only behind Chris Paul.

Chris Paul, who is having an unreal year, is also leading the touches/possessions category, a stat per NBA.com that measures:

The number of times a player touches and possesses the ball, where those touches occur on the court, how long the player possessed the ball and the number of points, assists and turnovers that occur with the ball in his possession.

But Paul averages 101.1 touches per game, where Curry only averages 70.2 touches per game.

Curry has almost 31 fewer touches per game than Paul, but still sits right behind him in assists per game.

Klay Thompson was virtually unknown before joining fellow Splash Brother Steph Curry in a match made in three-point heaven. And now he's averaging 21.1 points per game, shooting 51.9 percent from the field and 47.9 from three, where he averages almost seven attempts behind the arc per game.

He currently leads the NBA in catch-and-shoot points per game with an average of 10 points. He also leads the NBA in catch-and-shoot three-pointers with 2.9 made each game.

So Curry is one of the league's leaders in assists, and Thompson leads the league in catch-and-shoot points and catch-and-shoot three-point field goals made per game.  

Coincidence? I think not.

Of course, Thompson doesn't only get his catch-and-shoot points from Curry. The Warriors have some pretty good passing big men in David Lee and Andrew Bogut. And they also have Andre Iguodala, who took over point guard duties for Curry when he was out with a concussion and is averaging 6.3 assists per game.

But Steph is a shooter too, in case you didn't know. So even without the ball, Curry can help spread the floor, making it easier for others to create scoring opportunities for Klay.

Curry doesn’t rely on others to create his opportunities to score, however. 

He is averaging 20.1 points per game, shooting 44.9 percent from the field and 41.5 from three.  He is far behind Klay in catch-and-shoot points, averaging 4.6 points per game. And he leads the league in points off pull-ups,  which NBA.com defines as any jump shot outside 10 feet where a player took one or more dribbles before shooting.

He is averaging 12.5 points per game off pull-ups, making 5.5 pull-up field goals per game. 

He also leads the NBA in three-point pull-ups made, as if that was a surprise.  Curry makes 1.6 three-point pull-ups per game.

So Curry does all the work, while his teammates stand around all with their hands ready to shoot off a Curry pass.

Well, that’s an exaggeration. As I said before, there are plenty of other players on Golden State’s roster who can create scoring opportunities for themselves and for their teammates.

But, offensively, Curry is the Warriors’ motor. The Warriors offense starts and for the most part ends with Curry.

Their pick-and-roll system is dependent on Curry’s ability to create and to make quick decisions. The Warriors pick-and-roll offense gives Curry lots of freedom to create for himself and for his teammates. He gets a little bit of space from the screen and then from there he just makes reads. 

Defender gets caught on the screen, pull-up jumper.

Screener’s defender picks up the ball, hit the roller.

Klay’s man bites to help, hit Klay for an open three.

Here's Stephen Curry on reading the defense off the Warriors pick-and-roll offense.

The Warriors have plenty of offensive threats to choose from, but it’s Curry’s job to put them in a position to score and then choose the right person to give the ball to. 

He creates his teammates’ scoring opportunities. Not all of their scoring opportunities, but a big chunk of them.

Even if the play doesn’t end in a Curry point or Curry assist, his ability to draw in defenders creates opportunities for others to score or for others to create.

Offensively, Stephen Curry is irreplaceable for the Warriors.

When he is on the court, the Warriors are better.  When he is off the court, the Warriors are worse.  Simple as that. Don’t believe me, look at the stats per NBA.com.

NBA.com
Offensively, the Warriors are better with Steph on the court

That’s why his health is so important.

The Warriors have lost three straight, two of them being without their offensive leader, who was out with a concussion. The Warriors start a four-game road trip Tuesday as they face the young but tough New Orleans Pelicans. Then they face the Oklahoma City Thunder in what's sure to be an exciting rematch on Friday at OKC.

Golden State may have to face Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook without the man who sunk a last-second three-pointer to beat the Thunder in their first meeting this season. Andre Iguodala is out indefinitely with a hamstring strain.

The Warriors have a tough couple of games ahead of them. As they continue to battle injuries, Curry will have to step up. He has to continue to create for himself and for others.  He needs to increase his touches and increase his points. If he doesn’t, the 8-6  Warriors could drop to a .500 record in the next week.

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