Want Warriors news in your inbox? Sign up for the free DubsDaily newsletter.
OAKLAND — The pairing has become poetic symmetry, as Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson make shots from anywhere on the court with grace and precision.
For the past week, though, a key member of the “Splash Brothers” no longer can douse opponents with countless 3-pointers. When the Warriors (22-6) host the Dallas Mavericks (8-20) on Thursday at Oracle Arena, Curry will miss his fourth consecutive game because of a sprained right ankle injury, and he will remain sidelined until the Warriors reevaluate him early next week.
Does that mean Thompson has had to elevate his workload and leadership role?
“If Klay starts talking because Steph is out, I’ll let you know,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said with a grin.
Nearly eight days have passed since Kerr spoke those words. Kerr has not had an update on if things have changed. That is because Thompson has spoken very little since then. Following Thursday’s morning shootaround, Thompson maintained has been “not much different at all” even without having his backcourt mate to split the 3-point heaves.
“I put the hard work in and guys will follow,” Thompson said. “I’m not a vocal guy. But if I do that by example, people will respect that a lot.”
The Warriors respect Thompson a lot for his game basically staying the same. In the past three games that Curry has sat out, Thompson has averaged 22.33 points while shooting 49.06 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from 3-point range. While those numbers mirror his season averages in points (20.7) and shooting percentage (50.3), Thompson has taken a dip from his season averages in 3-point shooting (45.9%). But that has more to do with Thompson having an off night from the perimeter in Detroit (2-of-9) compared to his efficient nights in Charlotte (4-of-7) and against Portland (4-of-10).
“I just go out there and play my game like I do every game,” Thompson said. “I try to be myself and help the team win and just have fun. Nothing should change, regardless of who’s out there. You have to be yourself and do what got you to this point.”
What has gotten Thompson to this point is pretty simple.
Thompson makes a lot of shots. Thompson willingly defends the opposing team’s backcourt players that often are the roster’s best scorers. And even if Thompson fills the highlight reels with his prolific outside shooting, Thompson prefers to have those sequences speak for itself.
“He hardly says anything, but he’s there every night. Defensively and offensively, he competes,” Kerr said. “He’s out there and he’s healthy. It’s an incredible trait to have when your teammates can count on you every single day. In practice, he’s a constant presence. That, in itself, is a form of leadership.”
It is also a form of leadership that Thompson has declined to take any credit for the team’s seven-game winning streak. With the Warriors also nursing recent absences to Draymond Green (right shoulder), Zaza Pachulia (left shoulder) and Nick Young (concussion), Thompson put more credit on the depth around him including Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and a handful of role players ready to contribute.
“We’ve been working hard. We’re lucky because we have such a deep team,” Thompson said. “I don’t think a lot of teams could handle this stretch if two of their better players got hurt. We just got guys that are eager to play and have been in the league for a long time and guys that are fresh in the league. I think it does make it harder, but we’ve been prepared for this. This is what the front office prepared for.”
And this is what Thompson has prepared for, though he will not say so.