One win later, Klay Thompson is citing the Warriors’ record to support another individual accolade.
Asked to name the best player at each position in the NBA, Klay Thompson picked Warriors teammate Stephen Curry as the point guard and then paused.
“I’m going to go with myself,” Thompson said of his pick for the top shooting guard, throwing up his hands. “We’re 26-1.”
All three are good scorers – Harden best of the bunch. But Harden is also the worst defender, Butler the best. Harden and Butler both contribute in more ways than Thompson. They distribute better, rebound better and draw more fouls.
Unlike Harden and Butler, who are the best player’s on their teams, Thompson isn’t even the second-best player on his. He falls behind Curry and Draymond Green, whose defense is excellent and offense is better than ever.
That doesn’t eliminate Thompson from the discussion, but it puts his case into context. Thompson is more one-dimensional than Harden and Butler – a shooter first and foremost – and Thompson plays that role within the NBA’s best system. He plays it as flawlessly as anyone, but far less is asked of him than Harden and Butler.
Maybe Thompson would look better in a leading role, but I tend to think he’s already in the best position to succeed. Harden and Butler are already proving they can excel as top dogs. Neither of their teams is playing that well, but both are producing individually.
Just a year ago, Thompson’s agent was pushing him as the best two-way shooting guard in the league, ahead of Kobe Bryant. Thompson has exceeded every reasonable expectation since, and so have his Warriors. He deserves plenty of praise for his personal development and his team’s success.
But separating his individual ability from Golden State’s triumphs – admittedly a difficult task – I just don’t think Thompson quite reaches the level of Harden and Butler.