The Golden State Warriors open defense of their NBA title tonight against Cleveland, and their success will depend a great deal on how well guards Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, aka, the Splash Brothers, perform in the best-of-seven series.
Some people think Curry is the best shooter to ever play the game, and the two of them form the best back-court combo the league has seen in decades–maybe the best ever. There are a couple of other things they have in common.
Both of their fathers–Dell Curry and Mychal Thompson–had long NBA careers, so both sons learned to play the game correctly at an early age. Both were stars at the high school level, but neither Steph nor Klay was heavily recruited by college programs. They had good college careers, but weren’t highly prized in their respective drafts: Curry was the seventh overall pick and Thompson went 11th.
Thompson played his high school basketball in Southern California, where he was an all-star. But because he attended a small school, he was considered a four-star (out of five) recruit coming out of high school, and ended up playing his college ball for Tony Bennett at Washington State.
WSU is considered a back-water basketball school–even by Pac-12 standards–and Bennett is a defense-first coach who left a year after Thompson arrived to take over the Virginia program. The school hasn’t had a winning season since then, but Thompson was good enough to make first team all-conference twice. Only hoop heads knew who he was when the Warriors drafted him.
Curry’s story is even more interesting. He played his high school basketball in Charlotte, N.C., within dribbling distance of two of the supposedly smartest coaches at the college level, North Carolina’s Roy Williams and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski. Curry led Charlotte Christian to a state championship, but that apparently didn’t impress either coach.
Curry actually wanted to attend Virginia Tech, his father’s alma mater. The Hokies didn’t offer him a scholarship, but they did give him a chance to walk-on. (The coach who made that decision, Seth Greenberg, now pontificates about the college game and its players for ESPN.)
Curry decided to accept a scholarship offered by Davidson, a mid-major program in the Southern Conference. After lighting up the scoreboard for three seasons, he was grabbed by the Warriors.
Keep the stories of Curry and Thompson in mind the next time somebody tries to tell you how scientific and thorough player evaluations are these days.