OAKLAND -- The Splash Brothers have been together a long time now. The Warriors' backcourt pairing were first-round draft picks two years apart, establishing the true foundation for what has become the latest NBA dynasty.
They’ve been here longer than Draymond Green and Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston. They’ve been around even longer than Steve Kerr.
This partnership has helped form a juggernaut poised to win a fourth championship in five years.
Their record when starting together is unreal. The Warriors are an incredible 367-111 with Steph and Klay in the opening lineup.
Tuesday’s clash with the Utah Jazz was the 479th game with both guys in the starting lineup, which now stands as the largest total among two active teammates in the NBA.
They were second before Memphis traded Marc Gasol to Toronto and ended his run with point guard Mike Conley Jr. Now, no active pairing has worked together more.
We all know how efficiently Thompson and Curry score -- both guys hit 42 percent or better from 3-point range -- and have served as the prototypes of modern NBA offenses.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr, however, believes the Steph-Klay combo is more retro than you might think.
“To me, they’re kind of old school if you think about the NBA in the 70s and 80s,” Kerr said before Wednesday’s game at Oracle Arena. “You didn’t really have point guards and two-guards. You just had guards. You had guys like Clyde Frazier and Earl Monroe. Norm Nixon wasn’t really a point guard. He was just a guard. You had guys who could just make plays. They’re old school, but they can hit from 35 feet out. They’re old school mixed with new school.”
They certainly shoot the modern way, forming what most consider the deadliest sharpshooting tandem ever. They are not clones. Kerr called them complements, highlighted by Curry’s offensive efficiency and Thompson’s two-way play.
“They complement each other beautifully because they’re both screen-setters and play really well off the ball,” Kerr said. “Steph is obviously more dominant with the ball than Klay is, but Klay’s really good with the ball, too, especially getting to the rim and with the drive-and-kick.
“Klay’s ability to guard the ball and guard point guards takes a lot of pressure off of Steph and allows him to slide over and guard the other guard. It’s a big help to Steph that gives him a breather. He doesn’t have to always go with someone through a gauntlet of ball screens, and Klay is so big and strong that he can do that and still be effective offensively. They really compliment each other well.”
The Klay-Steph combo might not take a respite after Wednesday night, despite Thompson dislocating his left ring finger in the first quarter. He returned midway through the second quarter, no shock for someone who frequently plays through pain.
There isn’t much concern about a permanent separation this offseason, either, when Thompson is slated to enter unrestricted free agency.
Thompson has made it clear he wants to stay, and the Warriors say they won’t be outspent, making a long-term partnership extremely likely.