The Golden state Warriors entered this year as the returning champions, and obvious favorites to repeat as champs, as they boast the Splash Brother duo of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, the league’s best defensive big man in Draymond Green, and newest member of the family, Kevin Durant.
All signs point to them once again dominating this year, with no real sign of a true contender to dethrone them — not even the first place Houston Rockets. While the Rockets have blown away all expectations, they still don’t have the firepower to match up with three of the best shooters of all time.
The Warriors seemed to be destined to win yet another title, but their world may have come crashing down. On March 23rd, while facing the Atlanta Hawks, Curry, the heart and soul of the Warriors, came down with an MCL injury.
While at first the length Curry would be out was unknown, it’s becoming clear that he could potentially miss a portion of Golden State’s second–round matchup. Even though the Warriors cruised through the first round matchup (currently up 3-0 on the San Antonio Spurs) missing Curry for any of the second round could potentially dig them a hole they might not be able to recover from.
Currently, it’s looking like the Warriors will be taking on the New Orleans Pelicans (currently up 3-0 on the Portland Trail Blazers) and a focused and determined Anthony Davis. While the Warriors still boast an other worldly talent in Kevin Durant, the question is, does Thompson have enough in him to help carry the offense?
When Curry is on the floor, Thompson thrives. He is consistently getting open looks and feasting on the lesser defensive talent of the opponent’s backcourt. However, without Curry, Thompson instantly becomes the best perimeter threat for the Warriors, resulting in higher attention from the opposition and lower quality looks from all over the court.
The Warriors are going to have to rely on Thompson in a much bigger way, not only as a shot maker, but also as a playmaker for his teammates.
While the Warriors should still be able to make it past the Pelicans in the third round, Houston will stand as much higher competition for the Warriors, and will be a true test for Thompson. While Curry is scheduled to be returning before the start of that series, he is still coming off an injury, and expecting him to play at his MVP level right away, just isn’t going to happen.
If the Warriors want to stand a chance against the Rockets, Thompson will need to ball out. Since Curry will be back to receiving the majority of the attention, Klay will need to make the most out of every opportunity he receives, using his shooting ability to pour in three point baskets and create open looks for his teammates.
Even without a full strength Curry, a fully locked in and devoted Thompson should be just enough to help push the Warriors over the Rockets and give the team the chance to repeat as conference champions. From there, a fully healthy Warriors squad should have no problem stomping out a less talented Eastern Conference team, and once again reigning supreme as the Champions of the basketball world.
*Article up to date as of 4/20/18