Editor’s Note: Monte Poole, Logan Murdock, Drew Shiller and Grant Liffmann participated in the inaugural NBC Sports Bay Area Warriors Ultimate Draft. All four chose squads from a group of 25-man legends from the past 30 years, plus five “classic” players from before 1990. Our team of experts will analyze the merits of each team until a winner is crowned.
Dell Curry expected his son to be drafted before the Warriors were on the clock. He would rather see his son selected a spot later, No. 8 for the New York Knicks, than No. 7 for Golden State.
The Warriors, at the request of coach Don Nelson, ignored the father’s objections and recruited Dell’s eldest son anyway.
And look at that decision now, 11 years after Steph Curry became a Warrior. Nelson brags about his foresight. Dell is delighted and Steph, the third baseman chosen in the 2009 draft, is the biggest winner and most impressive player in franchise history.
Additionally, Curry and his wife, Ayesha, quickly settled into the Bay Area and now indicate that it is the home of their family of five.
Although one can argue the merits of Kevin Durant and Curry as Warriors superstars and first-time Hall of Fame members. Curry, however, is the franchise’s nameplate, logo, and hood ornament. Durant himself used four words to describe the team’s offense under Steve Kerr: “Steph is the offense.”
There is no discussion here. Curry is the center of the team during her golden era, and her teammates are the spokes. Durant’s recognition, along with Curry’s tenure with the franchise, is why Steph ranks ahead of KD and at the top of our Ultimate Draft list, with the best Warriors of the past 30 years. .
[RUNNIN’JUEGAPODCAST:[RUNNIN’PLAYSPODCAST:[RUNNIN’JUEGAPODCAST:[RUNNIN’PLAYSPODCAST: Listen to the last episode]
Curry is for the Warriors like Michael Jordan is for the Chicago Bulls, like Tom Brady is for the New Engand Patriots, like Rickey Henderson is for base stealing and even Bill Russell for the BostonCeltics. That is, nothing we have witnessed in the past seven years, the seven playoff seasons, five consecutive trips to the finals and three championships, happens without Stephen.
Do you really think that KD, upon becoming a free agent in 2016, would ever have considered joining the Warriors without Curry’s blessing? Or if Steph had been drafted by the Knicks?
KD is more impressive and perhaps it can affect the game in more ways. But we are talking about warriors. He is number 2 on the list, and I suspect he understands it as much as anyone.
Now, in another selection destined to be contested by those affected by a current bias. I put Chris Mullin at number 3, one place ahead of Klay Thompson.
First, that competition continues. Mully is retired, but Klay is in the middle of his career. He is 30 years old, fully recovered from ACL surgery and there is no reason to believe that he will not regain his All-Star status. He still has time to catch and beat Mullin, so it can’t be ruled out.
Why, then, is Mully ahead of Klay? Because Mullin has more praise. Both are five-time picks in the All-Star Game, but only one is in the Hall of Fame. That’s Mullin, who also has the distinction of being a member of the original Dream Team, in our opinion, the only Dream Team.
Mullin never won an MVP award, but he has two results in the top 15 in the vote, once sixth and once 13th. Thompson has one of those finals, tenth in 2015. Thompson has put in eight seasons with the franchise, Mullin retired with 13.
Any argument for Klay getting ahead of Mully is based on one thing. Defending. Klay is an elite defender, arguably the best two-way guard in Warriors history. It is capable of defending three positions well, and could probably handle a small line power forward. As a two-way player, Thompson is better than Mullin.
Mullin, however, is a much more polished offensive player.[[[[RELATED: Warriors Ultimate Draft: What Legends Could Play Today?]
Thompson’s greatness is related to his long distance shot, because his ball handling is average and his pass is sporadic. Thank Thompson for knowing what he does best and keeping it as your focus. When your shot is marked, nobody in the league is more explosive.
Mullin was a very good ball handler and a wonderful passer. He was equally capable of executing the offense as a forward point or, like Thompson, running tirelessly across the screens and using the wrong direction to free himself from the ball.
Mullin recorded six seasons in which he averaged at least five rebounds; Thompson’s career is 3.8. Mullin in seven seasons averaged at least four assists; Thompson’s personal record is 2.9.
Neither man is the alpha / performer personality needed to lead a team to the top. But Klay is more specialist, excelling in specific areas, while Mullin provided a more complete production.
As Thompson adds to his game, there is a chance that it will come up on our board. Right now, though, we’re going with the guy most likely to improve his teammates.