How compatible are Curry, Thompson in backcourt?

November 15, 2012, 9:38 pm
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OAKLAND -- When the Warriors broke up the StephenCurry-Monta Ellis backcourt, it came after years of debate, discussion and alot of disagreement.In short, there were legitimate questions about theircompatibility. And last March the Warriors came to the conclusion that aCurry-Ellis backcourt wouldnt work and traded Ellis to Milwaukee in a deal forAndrew Bogut.The Warriors did that for two reasons: They needed a centerand they believed Klay Thompson could be the shooting guard of the future andthe long-term backcourt partner of Curry.So, heres the question, and maybe youll think itspremature. Are Curry and Thompson really compatible? Do they complement eachother, do they make each other better and are they more of a solution goingforward than problem?Though Curry and Thompson have played just eight gamestogether, some troubling signs are emerging. Its not just that both playersare off to bad starts. Its that a closer look at their games raises somequestions. Here are a few of them: Thompson is a terrific shooter,particularly from 3-point range. Its the strength of his game, and hes athreat from anywhere on the perimeter.But is that the kind of two guard you want playing withCurry, who isnt a penetrator, isnt really a slasher and doesnt kick-out fromthe lane very often?Its fair to wonder whether Thompson can thrive in such asituation with that kind of point guard. Warriors coach Mark Jackson can talkall he wants about the defense of Curry and Thompson, and how both have improved.But theyre still not a good defensive backcourt.Curry doesnt have the lateral quickness of some pointguards and doesnt have the strength of others. Thompson certainly has size forhis position, but hes also got to get tougher and stronger.Can both grow in this area? Of course they can. Butout-defending another teams backcourt on a consistent basis doesnt seem likeits in the cards for them. Neither player is an above-averageathlete for his position, and this manifests itself in a lack of easy buckets.There were certainly aspects of Ellis game to criticize, but the ability toget to the rim certainly wasnt one of them.In the open court, Ellis was fantastic and even in thehalfcourt he would find ways to get into the lane and finish. He had theability to get there with quickness, by contorting and sometimes simply byelevating. You could make the case that Curryand Thompson have games that are too similar. The No. 1 strength of each playeris outside shooting. Thats good, on the one hand, but it also means that theremay be nights when neither shoots the ball particularly well.That seems to be whats happening now, with Curry shooting37 percent from the field and Thompson 36 percent. Having a perimeter-shootingbackcourt also means that youre not going to get to the foul lineconsistently, let alone in abundance.In some ways, you have two players who excel at coming offscreens, but yet neither is overly adept at finding each other coming offscreens.There has been a lot of debate as to whether Curry is apoint guard or not and whether thats his best position. Thats irrelevant,though, because the Warriors have made it clear they believe he is. That 44million contract will tell you that.The real question moving forward is whether theCurry-Thompson backcourt can thrive together or whether it might have some ofthe same issues that a Curry-Ellis backcourt had.

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