Warriors Guards Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson Adjusting to Big Minutes

Last season, even earlier this year, Warriors second-year guard Klay Thompson never visited the training room.

THOMPSON: “I thought I was invincible. I’m thinking, ‘I’m 22, 23.  I’m not getting tired.’ But, boy, I was wrong.”

Now, Thompson gets stretched before games. He’s more diligent about eating right and getting his sleep to fend off the soreness and fatigue. His youthful façade of invincibility has been shattered by big minutes in meaningful NBA games.

Don’t get him wrong, he loves it. When told he’s played the second-most minutes in the NBA since the All-Star break, his face lit up like he got a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas.

THOMPSON: “That’s awesome.“That’s gotta be the best stat I’ve heard in a long time.”

Thompson, a gym rat by nature, said he’s longed for the day he’d transition from promising reserve to a must-have-on-the-court starter. Sure, he’s so high on the minutes list because the Warriors have played more games than any team since the break. But he’s still experiencing, for the first time, the grind of being on a winning team in the NBA.

And guess who is the only player who’s played more minutes than Thompson? Stephen Curry.

After logging just shy of 36 minutes in Wednesday’s loss at San Antonio, Curry has an NBA-high 721 minutes since the All-Star break — 50 minutes more than Thompson.

Curry is third in minutes per game since the break (39.6), behind Milwaukee guard Monta Ellis (41.2) and Houston guard James Harden (39.7). And Curry is eighth with a 27.7 usage rate — percentage of plays involved in while on the floor — which is higher than both Ellis and Harden.

CURRY: “Recovery in between games is that much more important.”

Warriors coach Mark Jackson said Curry and Thompson will continue to get big minutes. But he said he does recognize the heavy load they carry. Both are central figures on offense. Both play with noticeable effort on defense.

Curry vacillates between guard positions and often has to carry the Warriors offense. And Thompson has become the defense stopper even while being relied on to provide steady scoring.

JACKSON: “I don’t want to kill them on both sides — in practice and during games. So it’s important for those guys to give me everything they’ve got and trust that I’ll give them time off.”

Jackson said playing his starting backcourt heavy minutes gives the Warriors the best chance to win, and both have proven durable. Even Curry, who has missed four games with two sprained right ankle injuries, said his conditioning has held up well under the weight of his minutes.

And since every game has playoff implications at this point, Jackson is finding it hard to keep them off the court.

They used to sit the final couple minutes of the first quarter and come back midway through the second. Now, it’s not rare for them to play the entire quarter, and lately they’ve been checking back in two to three minutes into the second quarter.

And though many Warriors fans would like to see more of rookie forward Harrison Barnes, Jackson has relied heavily on his three-guard lineup — Curry and Thompson with guard Jarrett Jack — in the second half of games all season.

The second-year coach wasn’t too concerned about wearing down his vital guards.

JACKSON: “With Klay, no. He’s young and he’s able, and it will be somebody else’s problem years form now when he’s out of gas. (Laughs). But with Steph, the issue is making sure he feels fine. I want to make sure he doesn’t need a breather, but there are certain games where I go in knowing he’s going to play just about every minute. And there are times when he looks at me crazy when I take him out.”

Marcus Thompson

  • JayTee

    Way to play team ball Jackson…exhaust your best and rest your hot hand (Barnes). It confounds me that Jackson continues to reward Klay with minutes when he’s having a crappy game, yet sits Barnes down like clockwork whether he’s good or bad. They don’t execute because Jackson is unaware that his core is not getting the job done that night and doesn’t have the foresight to mix it up and use other player’s strengths. Last night’s game was winnable had Jackson not stuck with his core for the night.

  • Chan

    Yea I agree, if Jackson kept Barnes 6-9, Landry 5/5 and Jack 6-11, they would’ve have gone in and won it for us. Keeping Curry, Lee and Klay costed us due the the extra shots and missed shots.
    Curry 8-/20
    Klay 3/8
    Bogut 2/9
    Lee 4/17

    Those extra attempts could’ve went to hots hands in Landry, Barnes and Jack would’ve probably gave them the win.

  • JDaddy

    I agree with JayTee about the Barnes situation. Klay was obviously not giving us anything in offensive end and, it seemed to me, Barnes would have been a better pick.

    Why can’t Coach take away some minutes from Klay and Steph in the first half?

    Barnes usually goes to the bench around the 6:00 mark in the first quarter for JJack.

    Steph leaves around the 2:00 mark or at the end of the quarter, depending if he’s what’s starting the Warriors Offense.

    Why not do the same for Klay and put back Barnes for a few minutes? Also, I’d love to see Steph get a breather for Bazemore and we can leave him out there till the 9:00 or 8:00 minute mark, depending on how he plays, and get Steph more rest.

  • Joe

    Insanity Jackson vs the fans (and The LOGO):

    I shall NEVER reward Barnes/Bazemore any meaningful minutes regardless of their efforts and hot hands. Even if the LOGO pointed this out during the broadcast, championing the fans consensus.

    The only way Jackson wants to win, is to outscore opponents with Curry/Thompson shooting jumper after jumper.

    Maximizing talents on the roster is for losers! It’s not a coach’s job! There is only ONE way of doing things: pray for our jumpers to fall, night in and night out!

    Jackson = Singletary, preaching caveman (nothing else matters, just give the ball to Gore and keep hitting the middle every play). Oops, what happened? I don’t know, got to check the films. No adjustments needed!

    It’s like watching that lone stubborn insane penguin heading towards the mountain to find food, while the rest heads to sea.

    Wake up, Jackson!

    The LOGO, everyone else watching can see the impacts Barnes/Bazemore are making, why couldn’t you?

  • Niners in 2012

    Playing Draymond Green over Barnes reminds me of when Keith Smart would play Acie Law over Steph Curry. Coach, what are you doing?

  • Stan

    Marc Spears made me laugh when he said “How can you have a team in India?..are they gonna travel by spaceship?”..to Kozimor’s crazy idea that the NBA wanted team in New Delhi or Bombay!
    Good thing its only sports..it would be scary to have a president Korzimor!

  • Grey Warden

    There goes Curry’s ankle….ouch

  • Falcdiggy

    You guys are off the mark for sure. Barnes is an awesome rookie, but he can’t lead the team yet. He isn’t there yet. Bazemoore? He’s still finding his way. He still looks a little lost on the court at times and absolutely telegraphs his passes. You gonna tell me he doesn’t? You guys think you know ball better than the coach? That’s crazy! The W’s- the worst team in the league FOR DECADES- are finally headed in the right direction. And it’s not some fluky nonsense like when they beat Dallas five years ago. It’s solid progress.
    You guys wanna give it to Barnes? Honestly, I look at these threads- you guys remind me of LAKER FANS.

  • Devarajan Swami

    I think Klay is a much better defender than Harrison. That is why Klay gets minutes during 2nd halfs.

    And for team morale, we need Bazemore on the bench where he can do these crazy antics when the team scores 🙂

  • Thewarriorsrule

    The consensus is, and I agree, Jackson needs to go. For those who protect Jackson, u give him far too much the benefit of the doubt that he knows more than the fans. In this, case it is too obvious certain players need more or less minutes