The Warriors are best known for their offensive firepower, and for good reason. The team employs the greatest three-point shooter the game’s ever seen in Steph Curry, the man many call the “best pure scorer” in the NBA (and maybe NBA history) in Kevin Durant, and a likely top-10 all-time three-point shooter in Klay Thompson.
It’s an embarrassment of riches that they’ve deployed to the tune of back-to-back championships and remain the heavy favorites to pick up a third straight this June. However, while the offense is other worldly, their backbone is one of the NBA’s great defenses, led by perennial DPOY finalist Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, and Thompson.
The second Splash Brother’s value to the Warriors isn’t just spacing the floor around Curry and Durant, but what he does to alleviate pressure for those two on the other end by being capable of causing problems for the opponent’s top perimeter player. Sometimes that sees him guarding wings, other times point guards, but Thompson’s two-way ability is something he’s grown into and takes a lot of pride in.
The origins of Thompson’s commitment on that end goes back to the summer following his rookie season as he could already see what Curry’s potential on the offensive end was, as he told Scott Cacciola of the New York Times. Then Warriors coach Mark Jackson put them through grueling defensive workouts, setting a tone for Thompson of the level of work he’d need to get to the level he wanted, and he knew it was the way he could best take pressure off his soon-to-be MVP teammate.
“He was our anchor and such an offensive force,” Thompson said. “I was like, ‘I need to help this man out so he doesn’t have to chase these guys around.’”
This postseason his abilities on that end have been on display in the first two rounds. His combination of strength, quickness, and length makes him a difficult matchup for many guards and wings, and he’s taken on the task of going after some of the league’s best scorers this postseason in Lou Williams and James Harden. Those guys will still eat, but he makes it more difficult on them then usual and tries to make them more inefficient than they’re accustomed to, allowing Curry to keep more of his energy for what he needs to do to make the offense go.