Kyrie Irving

Steph Curry, Draymond Green could play with Michael Jordan, NBA GMs say

Steph Curry, Draymond Green could play with Michael Jordan, NBA GMs say

While ESPN's "The Last Dance" has been a great reminder of Michael Jordan's tumultuous, yet wildly successful tenure with the Chicago Bulls, it also has provided a peek behind the curtain as to what it was like to be his teammate.

Jordan was incredibly demanding of all those he shared the court with, though he insists he never asked them to do anything he didn't do himself. While his testy demeanor surely rubbed many teammates the wrong way, it was also part of what made those teams so great. Jordan set the standard, and held everyone else to it.

Not everyone was up for the challenge, and Jordan would let you know about it if you weren't. But if you could prove your mettle to him, he'd know you could handle whatever situation was on the horizon.

The NBA obviously has changed a lot since Jordan's playing days, but whether or not you believe he's the best player of all time, he surely still would have been a dominant player in the modern era. Which begs the question: Which modern players would be good fits as his teammates, knowing all that comes with it?

Bleacher Report's Ric Bucher recently asked a group of current NBA general managers and coaches that very question, and two Warriors players were mentioned in response.

In addition to Draymond Green -- "doesn't need the ball in his hands" -- an Eastern Conference GM also believes Steph Curry would a great fit alongside Jordan.

"[Curry] proved he has enough of a deferential mindset to play with another superstar when he got KD," the GM said.

Speaking of Kevin Durant, he was the player who the GMs most believed wouldn't be able to make things work with Jordan.

"There's only one guy who wouldn't willingly move over and be No. 2 -- KD," a different Eastern Conference GM said. "He'd struggle playing with Michael. Too sensitive, and he'd want to shoot all the balls. If Michael yelled at him for missing too many shots, he wouldn't have liked it."

While Curry has proven he can adjust for a fellow superstar, and Green is one of the few who could match Jordan's intensity, the evaluation of Durant seems a little unfair. He has played alongside fellow superstars throughout nearly the entirety of his NBA career, from Russell Westbrook and James Harden to Curry, and now, Kyrie Irving. Plus, we know winning is important to him -- that's why he joined the Warriors when he did. 

[RELATED: How 'Last Dance' proves Kerr's advice to Warriors right]

Depending on the time in Durant's career, it doesn't seem like a pairing with Jordan should be ruled out altogether. Jordan would have valued his supreme skills, and hey, Durant could always leave if he felt it was time to move on.

You know, like he just did.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Warriors' Steph Curry against Nets' Kyrie Irving: Who wins 1-on-1?

Warriors' Steph Curry against Nets' Kyrie Irving: Who wins 1-on-1?

With the season currently paused due to the coronavirus pandemic, NBA fans need something to whet their appetites. A head-to-head battle between two Hall of Famers? Yep, that'll do the trick.

As NBC Sports' Tom Haberstroh reported Friday, Shaquille O'Neal and Hakeem Olajuwon were supposed to go 1-on-1 back in 1995. The matchup never happened, but the appeal is obvious. Who wouldn't have wanted to see the two legendary big men go at it?

Which got us thinking: Which 1-on-1 matchups between modern players would fans most want to see? Immediately, one comes to mind.

Steph Curry and Kyrie Irving constantly have been compared to one another throughout their NBA careers. Obviously, the rivalry between the Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers played into that, but it's easy to see why.

Who are the two best point guards in the NBA? Who has the best handle in the league? Who is the most talented point guard Kevin Durant has ever been on the same team with?

With apologies to Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook, chances are, the most common answers to those questions would be Curry and Irving.

They've both had legendary performances when their teams have gone head to head, but obviously, we've never had the opportunity to see how a 1-on-1 matchup might play out.

Which begs the question: How would it?

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Curry is four years older than Irving, however, he has only spent two more seasons in the NBA, and at this point, both players are who they are going to be. They're both in their primes, but it's unlikely that either would take a major leap forward throughout the remainder of their careers.

So, we'll base this theoretical matchup on how the two players have performed up to this point. And upon doing so, it reveals to be just as enticing as you might expect.

In nearly every major statistical category -- scoring, rebounding, assists, shooting percentages, PER, win shares -- Curry has the upper hand over Irving.

Though Irving is a sharpshooter in his own right, he hasn't been nearly as accurate as Curry. From the field, the free-throw line and particularly from 3-point range, Curry has proven to be the better marksman. If the 1-on-1 matchup came down to shot-making, you'd have to give the two-time MVP the benefit of the doubt.

Speaking of which, Curry has all the hardware in his favor, too. Two league MVPs to zero, three NBA championships to one. That doesn't matter much, if at all, in a 1-on-1 setting, but generally speaking, the best players tend to get the awards.

If there's one area where you'd have to give Irving a slight advantage, it's dribbling. Curry has a fantastic handle, probably second-best in the league, and certainly one of the best of all time. The problem for Steph is, Irving is the one above him. Each player has a hefty catalog of ankle-breaking highlights, and Curry has embarrassed plenty of NBA players with his moves. But Irving seems to want to embarrass his opponent whenever he has the rock -- and, more often than not, he does.

So, if they went 1-on-1, you could expect plenty of slick handles from both sides. Neither would want to get their hand caught in the cookie jar, but both surely would -- Curry maybe once or twice more than his opponent.

Which brings us to defense. Neither player will ever be named NBA Defensive Player of the Year, but both are much better defensively than they're given credit for. For their careers, Curry and Irving have posted individual defensive ratings of 107 and 109 points allowed per 100 possessions, respectively. Neither number is overly impressive, but both are solid, especially given their offensive output. Curry (1.7) has averaged more steals per game than Irving (1.3), but Kyrie (0.4) has the advantage over Steph (0.2) in blocks. All those differences are fairly negligible, and generally speaking, there isn't much separating the two from a defensive standpoint.

[RELATED: Steph-KD Warriors would handle Shaq-Kobe three-peat Lakers]

So, shot-making goes to Curry, ball-handling goes to Irving and defense is a push. How the heck does that play out, 1-on-1?

I don't know. But who wouldn't want to find out?

2011 NBA re-draft: Should Warriors' Klay Thompson have been No. 2 pick?

2011 NBA re-draft: Should Warriors' Klay Thompson have been No. 2 pick?

Programming note: Watch the re-air of Klay Thompson making an NBA-record 14 3-pointers vs. the Chicago Bulls tonight at 8 p.m. PT on NBC Sports Bay Area.

The Warriors selected Klay Thompson with the No. 11 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft (don't ever forget that the Sacramento Kings took Jimmer Fredette at No. 10).

But if we re-drafted that class, would Klay be the second player off the board?

Kawhi Leonard -- who went No. 15 to the Indiana Pacers and then was traded to the San Antonio Spurs -- practically would be the unanimous choice for No. 1 overall. 

The guy is a two-time NBA Finals MVP, two-time Defensive Player of the Year and is in the conversation for best player in the NBA.

So then who are the choices for the No. 2 overall pick?

In addition to Klay, we have Kyrie Irving (who went No. 1), Kemba Walker (who went No. 9) and Jimmy Butler (who went No. 30).

"I have Jimmy Butler slightly ahead of Klay Thompson," NBC Sports Bay Area's Logan Murdock said. "I think that Klay Thompson is a great player, but a great player for the Warriors. He's great because he has Steph Curry alongside him and that's a big part.

"He doesn't have to be the best player on the floor."

Logan definitely isn't alone with this assessment. Klay certainly benefits from Steph's impact, and over the years people have wondered how the Washington State product would fare if he was the No. 1 scoring option on a different team.

But he's not. He's a Splash Brother and we can't fault him for that, right? He simply has made the most of his situation and turned himself into one of the 20 best players in the NBA.

"Steph has made Klay better. But I think Klay has made Steph better," NBC Sports Bay Area's Greg Papa said.

That absolutely is true and there's nothing wrong with that. It's what should happen in a team sport like basketball.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

As for Butler -- he is a five-time All-Star, four-time All-Defensive Second-Team selection and has been named All-NBA Third-Team twice. He is a better playmaker and rebounder than Klay, and gets to the free-throw line a lot more.

Some people would argue that if you swapped Butler for Klay, the Warriors wouldn't miss a beat. I would disagree with that take.

Klay is a career 42 percent 3-point shooter on 7.0 attempts per game, while Butler is at 33.3 percent on 2.6 attempts per game. He shot below 25 percent from deep this season with the Miami Heat.

In the modern NBA, 3-point shooting is incredibly important. And the three-time NBA champion arguably is the second-best shooter in NBA history.

Additionally, Thompson has turned himself into a force on the defensive end. He does a fantastic job against bigger players in the post, and can make life very difficult for the elite scoring guards on any given night.

"Klay's ability to guard the ball at 6-foot-7 (is so valuable)," Papa explained. "Yes, he's a great shooter with the picture-perfect form ... Kawhi is a better defender than Klay, but I'm gonna say it's close because Klay is that good on the ball defensively. 

"Those are the two best players in the draft."

Ultimately, the Klay vs. Butler debate is subjective and comes down to personal preference. But when you factor in everything -- and you can't ignore how Klay is considered "no maintenance," while Butler has been a part of some highly-publicized drama -- I'm rolling with Klay.

Speaking of drama ... what about Kyrie? 

[RELATED: How one early incident taught Kerr not to yell at Klay]

He is a six-time All-Star, was All-NBA Third-Team in 2014-15 and All-NBA Second-Team in 2018-19 and hit the game-winning 3-pointer over Steph in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals.

Kyrie is the best ball-handler in the league, can be unguardable at times and just is insanely skilled.

But he brings undeniable baggage to the table and is quite injury prone. If the selection was based on pure talent alone, Kyrie would get the nod.

But NBA general managers have to factor in way more than that, and it would be understandable if some (if not the majority) went with Klay instead (it's safe to assume Kevin Durant disagrees).

Once again, there is no right answer and you can make strong cases for all three players (sorry Kemba).

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