Trade rumors have been circulating in the off-season about possible trades for two of the Warriors stars: Draymond Green and Klay Thompson.Green’s off-court antics have started to become a dark cloud hanging over the organisations head, but Green is one of the best power forwards in the league. Due to his ability and 2015-16 season (which helped him be named in the All-NBA Second Team), it seems unlikely that the Warriors would be willing to give up Draymond Green, unless they can receive a player like Anthony Davis or Demarcus Cousins.
That leaves the other Splash Brother, Klay Thompson. While Thompson is a top 5 shooting guard in the NBA, he’s easily the weakest player when it comes to the Big 4 of Durant, Thomson, Green and Curry. Any team would take Thompson, and if the Warriors are able to receive a player like Derozan or Butler. However in trading Thompson the Warriors, they’re making a big mistake.
Firstly, let’s make one thing clear: there’s a difference between being dominant and being valuable.
Draymond Green, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant are dominant. Demarcus Cousins is dominant. Karl Anthony Towns is dominant. Michael Jordan and Larry Bird were dominant.
Meanwhile, players like Kyle Lowry, Isaiah Thomas, Dwayne Wade and Marcin Gortat are valuable. They help the team win without putting up 40 and 50 points, or being an MVP name.
Klay Thompson is in the latter group. When he’s needed, Thompson easily steps into the light and be’s the Splash Brother that the Warriors need. Looking at just the finals, in game 1 of the Western Conference semi-finals, when Curry was out injured, he dropped 37 points, followed by 27 points in game 2 and 37 in game 3. For all of these games, Stephen Curry was out.
He’s the next scoring option when Curry isn’t getting his stroke right. For Thompson, it can be expected that he won’t get much recognition. After all, he’s playing second fiddle to Stephen Curry, one of the greatest shooters of all-time and a back-to-back MVP.
Now, to understand how valuable Klay Thompson is, let’s look at some potential trades that may see Thompson move.
The first is the old “star for picks” option, but let’s be real. The Warriors want to win NOW. So draft picks that will take 3 or 4 years to develop for an All-Star now? Probably not.
If the Warriors were to trade Thompson, they’d be looking to acquire a shooting guard or a centre. For the centre position, the only likely star player at the 5 that could be traded that is equal to the Warriors is Kings Demarcus Cousins. Although this would make for a dangerous deal, one has to ask whether or not Cousins can play at the same level in Golden State that he does in Sacramento. After all, Boogie is the star of the team and average 26.9 points a game and 11.5 rebounds a game across 65 outings. However, it can be seen that should Cousins be traded to the Warriors, he may end up as the next Kevin Love. Remember, Love was dominant in Minnesota and was once considered to be a future MVP. That though was with an average Timberwolves team. Once he became a Cavalier, his points per game average dropped by 10! With teammates Kyrie Irving and Lebron James, there was less of a need for Love to dominate. This situation could be the exact same for Demarcus Cousins. So in the end, the trade is not good for the Golden State Warriors.
As for shooting guards, most in the league are either too valuable or below Klay’s level. The Bulls wouldn’t be willing to give away Butler, especially since they just made it clear that it would be his team moving forward. Derozan and Lowry are too vital for the Raptors to risk moving either of them. As far as Thompson trades go, they’d all disadvantage the Warriors.
The fact is that Thompson is a strong player on both ends. His +/- rating in the NBA last season was third among all players, only behind his teammates, Draymond Green and Stephen Curry. However, on the defensive end, his defensive presence shows. He’s under-rated in fact. The fact is, Thompson is one of the best two-way players in the league, and that’s something that the Warriors will find difficult to find again
At the end of the day, the Warriors could trade Thompson for anyone. However, the risk could be bigger than the reward. And the Warriors cannot have risks if they want to go back to the top of the mountain.