On June 25, 2009, the Golden State Warriors drafted Steph Curry. Ten years and 16 days later, the Oklahoma City Thunder traded Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets. With that move, Curry moved to second in the NBA for longest tenure with his current team. The only player he sits behind is Udonis Haslem, though that feels like a technicality. At this point, Haslem is essentially an assistant coach for the Miami Heat, having appeared in just 43 games and played fewer than 300 minutes over the last four seasons combined.
During his time in the Bay Area, Curry has had 106 teammates who have appeared in at least one game. Some played in exactly one game, while others played in hundreds. Some never actually played in a game that Curry was active for, while others formed historically great partnerships with him.
And I’m ranking all 106, one a day, over the course of three months.
Players are ranked — and stats are shown — based only on their time as Curry’s teammate. How good/bad they were in other organizations doesn’t matter. How good/bad they were on pre-2009-10 Warriors teams doesn’t matter.
To see all of the rankings thus far, you can click on the “Ranking Steph’s teammates” tag at the top of the article.
#96 — Jason Thompson
Games: 28 (T-70th out of 106)
Points per game: 2.1 (T-92nd out of 106)
Rebounds per game: 1.9 (T-75th out of 106)
Assists per game: 0.7 (T-71st out of 106)
Bizarre sidenote: Of the seven players selected with picks 12-18 in 2008, five would go on to play for the Warriors.
Anyway, Thompson spent seven years in Sacramento, and played 541 games. He never quite put it together, but being a product of a dysfunctional Kings team, it was fair to think that maybe he would make things work in a more functional organization.
28 games with the Warriors and 19 games with the Toronto Raptors later, and Thompson’s time in the NBA was complete. It wasn’t gonna happen. It turns out, as happens occasionally with dysfunctional organizations, that Thompson wasn’t a product of Sacramento’s basketball shortcomings, but rather a feature of them.
Perhaps I’m being too harsh on Thompson, who maybe should be 5-10 spots higher on this list if we’re simply going off per-game stats.
But I can’t stop thinking about a quote from The Athletic’s Ethan Strauss, as he explained how Curry’s teammates would need to adjust to his return from his October hand fracture:
To play within that flow, guys needed to have an extremely high basketball IQ. On Thursday, NBA shows and social media accounts commemorated the four-year anniversary of Curry’s incredible 38-foot game-winner to beat the Thunder in one of the greatest regular-season games ever played. On Twitter, Rachel Nichols asked, “Do you remember where you were four years ago today, when Steph Curry hit the shot that changed the NBA?” Less well remembered was what happened the week before, when the Warriors cut Jason Thompson in the middle of that road trip. The main reason for the cut could not be publicly stated: Simply put, Thompson wasn’t basketball-smart enough to hang with those Warriors.
In fairness, that probably applies to 70 or 80 of the players on this 106-person list. Thompson is neither the first, nor the last player to have the NBA game — specifically the Warriors game — move at a pace he couldn’t keep up with.
We just don’t have the ruthless admission of that for most players, so it stands out a little bit more in this particular case.
It also matches the eye test. Thompson was a very good athlete, and to say he was “raw” isn’t really even fair. He had some polish and finesse to his game. He just always looked a few laps behind his teammates.
In a different system, or a different year, Thompson is probably much higher on this list. After all, there’s a reason he averaged 9.4 points and 6.9 rebounds for the better part of a decade in Sacramento, but couldn’t get on the court for Golden State.
On these teams, in this system, and with Steph Curry, it just wasn’t going to happen. In hindsight, it never had a chance.