COLUMN: Golden State would miss Klay Thompson more than Kevin Durant if he leaves


The Golden State Warriors' Klay Thompson scores over the Minnesota Timberwolves' Cameron Reynolds at Target Center in Minneapolis on March 19. The Warriors won, 117-107. Tribune News Service Buy Photos

On June 30, the NBA’s free agency period will begin, and it could mark the end of one of the best dynasties in the history of the league.

Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, both all-stars for the Golden State Warriors, are unrestricted free agents and have the opportunity to move onto different franchises.

Being such integral parts of the Warriors’ success, the possibility of these two leaving could be devastating to the team.

Losing both would be the worst case scenario. Most sources will tell you Durant already has his foot halfway out the door and is on his way to the New York Knicks next season.

Any franchise in the NBA would love to have a talent like Durant, but realistically, the Warriors could do without him if he decides to move on. That is, of course, if Thompson decides to stay.

Since Durant joined the team in 2016, the Warriors have a 34-4 record when the Warriors’ other former MVP, Stephen Curry, plays and Durant doesn’t, including 31 of the last 32.

On the court, Durant is one of the most potent offensive players to ever play the game. But as impressive as his contributions are, the Warriors have proven they don’t need his production to beat even some of the NBA’s most elite teams.

In this season’s playoffs, Durant was averaging 34.2 points per game before he went down with a calf strain in the conference semifinals that has sidelined him since.

Since his injury, the Warriors have won all five of the games they’ve played and swept the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Finals despite trailing by double digits in each of the last three games of the series.

Durant is amazing, but the Warriors don’t need him. They won a championship before he arrived, and it wouldn’t be shocking for them to win more once he’s gone.

Thompson, on the other hand, is simply irreplaceable.

The pairing of Thompson and Curry is indisputably the greatest 3-point shooting pair in NBA history. Add defensive specialist and playmaker Draymond Green to the mix, and you’ve got three all-stars aside from Durant. It’s no accident that this team had a 73-9 record in the regular season the year before Durant arrived, which is an NBA record.

Durant is able to dominate almost any player that is unfortunate enough to have to guard him but he doesn't move well without the ball, which is something this team is built to do.

Durant is a superstar and arguably the greatest player in the game right now, but take him off the Warriors and they’re the same team that won 73 games in a season and a championship the season before. Thompson is not the same type of talent, but you take him off this team and they take a major step backward.

Thompson is the perfect sidekick to Curry. Thompson has knocked down 3-pointers at a 42% clip for his career, which draws attention away from Curry on the offensive end. If a team focuses on Curry on the defensive end, Thompson has proven he’s going to burn you.

He has had 60 points in three quarters, 37 in one quarter and 14 3-pointers in a single game. Thompson isn’t a go-to-guy, but when he gets hot, he is simply unstoppable.

Thompson is also one of the best defensive guards in the league. As otherworldly as Curry is on the offensive end, he needs Thompson to help him out on the other end of the court.  

He is in no way a better player than Durant, but Thompson’s contributions to the Warriors mean much more.

If he does decide to move on to a new team, the Warriors will be hard-pressed to find success similar to that of the last five years. However, if he returns, the Warriors look poised to continue their streak of five straight finals appearances, the most of any team since the Boston Celtics in the 1960s.

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