It’s one of the most challenging and underappreciated individual accomplishments in the NBA, and three Warriors have climbed into the top five: Stephen Curry is second on the list, Klay Thompson is third and Draymond Green is tied for fourth.
But together, the three Warriors are No. 1 -- and it’s not close -- as the Ultimate Teammates. No group of players on any roster approaches their collective original-team longevity of nine seasons.
In today’s itinerant NBA, that’s astounding.
Individually, Curry’s 12-season tenure with the Warriors is behind only Udonis Haslem’s 17-year stretch in Miami. Then comes Thompson’s 10 seasons, followed by Green’s nine, which is tied with Portland’s Damian Lillard and Washington’s Bradley Beal.
While most other teams constantly are seeking ways to establish core compatibility, the Warriors have had it since 2012, when they drafted Green, who on Wednesday recalled his first impressions of Curry and Thompson.
“If you don’t like Steph Curry and Klay Thompson when you first meet them,” he said, “something is wrong with you.”
Though their off-court lifestyles are different, but the on-court makeup of Curry, Thompson and Green is complementary, even sublime. All three are fierce competitors dedicated to the grind required to achieve greatness. Every employer, ideally, seeks a workforce in which disparate individual aptitudes coalesce to generate the best possible whole.
“The uniqueness of those three is in how well their skill sets and personalities mesh,” president/general manager Bob Myers told NBC Sports Bay Area on Wednesday. “They complement each other in such a way that the game of each is amplified by that of the others.”
With Thompson sidelined for the second consecutive season, it’s up to the Curry-Green duo to anchor this season. Operating with a relatively new cast, they’re still effective in tandem and their production and impact are the primary factors dictating the direction of the season.
But the influence of Curry, Thompson and Green goes deeper than the course of any season. They represent the young core that attracted forward Andre Iguodala in 2013, coach Steve Kerr in 2014, forward Kevin Durant in 2016 and center DeMarcus Cousins in 2018.
Which, furthermore, speaks to the commitment of the franchise. The Warriors have kept the group together because it has been fruitful, making five consecutive trips to The Finals and winning three championships. Green in the summer of 2019 received a four-year contract extension worth $100 million that some immediately questioned. Less than one month after tearing an ACL in the 2019 Finals, Thompson received a five-year max deal worth $190 million.
As the franchise insignia, Curry is held in such high esteem that whether he signs an extension this summer or a new deal in 2022, the value will be limited only by the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
The NBA has seen its share of high-quality teams disband over interpersonal fissures among stars. See LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in Cleveland. James Harden and Dwight Howard/Chris Paul/Russell Westbrook in Houston. Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles. Even now, questions persist about Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons in Philadelphia.
The Warriors and their core three have avoided such issues. They have their “bickerments,” as Klay once described it, but they never question mutual respect and commitment to the common goal.
Draymond, the firebrand of the group, has developed a deep appreciation for the amiability and character of Curry and Thompson.
“Those two guys aren’t going to give you anything not to like about them, other than if you’re playing against them and they do what they do to people,” Green said.
“If you meet Steph and Klay and you can’t hit it off with Steph and Klay, you should search deep within and figure out what you’ve got going on personally that’s stopping you from being able to connect with someone that is that easy to connect with, someone that is that likable. You’ve got to do some inner soul-searching on your own.”