In some ways, Stephen Curry’s improved in each of his first three seasons with the Golden State Warriors. His shooting percentage has climbed from 46 percent to 48 percent to 49 percent. His three-point shooting percentage has enjoyed a similar increase, going from 43 percent in 2009-10 to 44 percent in 2010-11. Last year, Curry pumped it all the way up to nearly 46 percent.
But one of Curry’s statistics hasn’t been trending upward: games played.
Curry missed only two games as a rookie and followed that up by missing eight in his second year. But last year, amidst a string of alarming ankle injuries, Curry managed to suit up for only 26 of a possible 66 contests.
But his health appears restored, and now, Curry is on the verge of a career year. Here’s why:
Monta Ellis is Gone
Ellis earned a lot of fans by scoring spectacularly—if inefficiently. He led the Warriors in scoring in each of Curry’s first three seasons, but more importantly (as far as Curry’s growth is concerned), Ellis totally dominated the ball. Without Ellis around as the offense’s focal point, Curry will become the primary decision-maker and ball handler. From an efficiency standpoint, that’s a very good thing.
Curry’s In a Contract year
I know, Curry might not be as motivated by money as a lot of NBA players. He comes from family money and probably isn’t out to chase a buck. Nonetheless, Curry will sign a new contract after this season and, if given the option, he’d probably like it to be for as much money as possible, right? Curry’s clearly been dedicated this offseason to restoring himself to full health in an effort to show potential suitors, including his own team, that he can stay healthy enough to warrant close to a max deal.
Something to Prove
The 2012-13 season will be Curry’s fourth in the NBA, a time when many players reach their peaks. But because of health issues and the construction of his teams, we don’t really know how good Curry can be. This season, he’s got more to prove than ever. He’s got to show he can be a team leader and a primary scorer. More than that, he’s got to show doubters that he can stay healthy. Though Curry’s apparently a good-natured, easygoing guy, there’s got to be a bit of a chip on his shoulder this year.
The Warriors Have Some Bigs
Never before have the Warriors been better constructed to optimize outside shooting. With the addition of Andrew Bogut as a post-up threat, defenses will finally be forced to collapse on the interior. When that happens, Bogut, who’s an accomplished passer, will have the option to fire the ball out to Curry for more open shots than he’s ever had. David Lee and rookie Draymond Green, who figures to play some hybrid forward, are also solid passers who can find Curry if they’re doubled.
Health is the key, but all signs are pointing to a banner year for Curry.
One year after breaking down, Stephen Curry’s about to break out.