Golden State Warriors: Does Golden State's Success Hinge on Klay Thompson?

Joshua J Vannuccini@@jjvannucciniSenior Analyst IIIJanuary 25, 2013

Golden State has exceeded expectations thus far. After a brutal stretch of under-.500 seasons, the team is back on track to make an appearance in the postseason. Led by stars Stephen Curry and David Lee, the Warriors have a 26-15 record and are on a three-game winning streak.

With victories over the Heat, and the Clippers and Thunder in their past two games, Golden State has made noise around the league to let everybody know the Bay Area team is back in business. Yet one name rarely mentioned is Klay Thompson.

The second-year guard for the Warriors, who stands 6'7" and 205 pounds, has been instrumental to the team's success. He averages 16 points and 3.8 rebounds on 41 percent shooting, 38.9 from downtown. Thompson's percentages are down from last year's (44.3 and 41.4, respectively), which could be attributed to his insertion into the starting lineup. His minutes are also up from 24.4 last season to 35.1 so far. 

As Stephen Curry's teammate, the duo form arguably the best shooting backcourt in the league. However, there is more to Thompson's role with the team than meets the eye.

In losses this season, Thompson averages 13.8 points on 35.4 percent and 34.6 percent shooting from the field and from three-point territory, respectively. In wins, his numbers spike to 17.3 points on 44.1 percent and 41.6 percent. Below are the statistical numbers of Curry and Lee in wins and losses:

  PTS REB AST FG% 3P%
Curry in W 21.1 4.3 7.1 43.9 42.9
Curry in L 20.6 3.7 5.6 43.0 49.5
Lee in W 20.2 11.6 3.9 53.9 0.00
Lee in L 18.7 9.5 3.3 49.1 0.00

As evidenced from the table above, both Curry's and Lee's production dips in losses. You could certainly expect this, but neither's drop off is as monumental as Thompson's. Curry's increased assist numbers in wins could be paired with Thompson's improved play within the same context, but making judgements simply from statistics is never assuredly accurate.

However, it's safe to assume as such. Golden State is on a tear through the Western Conference and has Warriors fans excited about the prospect of cheering through the playoffs once again. Their team has one of the better cores in the league, with Lee and Curry leading the way, and Thompson, Landry and Jack as a supporting cast.

This group should certainly make some noise in the playoffs and can really make a bang if Thompson can play at a high level every night. His contribution is essential to Golden State's success.

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