The 2013 NBA playoffs acted as Stephen Curry’s launching pad to stardom.
He had a breakout year last year and was widely regarded as the biggest snub from the 2013 All-Star Game, but the playoffs were when the rest of the league started to notice just how good Curry truly is.
Curry has only become more of a household name as he and his Warriors have continued to play one of the most exciting brands of basketball in the entire league. He has starred in foot locker ads, in ESPN promos, and has been to the USA men’s basketball camp roster.
If you were compiling a list of who you would want taking the final shot of a game, the list might go something like this: LeBron James, a healthy Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Paul George, James Harden, and Stephen Curry. Of course arguments could be made for Damian Lillard, Kyrie Irving, Tony Parker, or Dirk Nowitzki being in the conversation, but Curry is undoubtedly in that conversation.
But should he be?
Curry is actually not as good in clutch situations as you might think.
When on the floor in the last four minutes of a three point game, Curry shoots a mere 17.6 percent from three and 31.7 percent from the field. He averages only 1.8 points and has a plus/minus of 0.0.
Against Utah last Friday night, Curry was surely clutch. He scored seven points in the final five minutes of the game and was the only Warriors who could make a shot. Curry seldom performs in clutch situations like he did last Friday night.
Against Washington earlier in the week, Curry struggled making only one of his five shot attempts in the final five minutes in the Warriors’ three-point home loss to the Wizards. In the final five minutes of their loss to the Timberwolves on Jan. 24, Curry had only two points, both as a result of free throws, but only attempted one shot. He did create plays, accumulating three assists down the stretch but also had two crucial turnovers, a persistent problem that he needs to fix.
Curry leads the league in points per game on pull-up jump shots per game, but in late game situations, the fifth leading scorer in the entire league often see his jumper struggling to fall.
Curry’s struggles in crunch time translate into the Warriors struggling as a team. In the final five minutes of game the Warriors tend to struggle. When ahead or behind by three points or fewer, they shoot a mere 28.6 percent from three, which puts them in the bottom ten of team three point shooting in the final five. Per game, the Warriors are third in the entire league in three-point shooting, but as the game progresses, their legs often times go.
Such a trend could be worrisome for the Warriors come postseason. If the Warriors struggle from behind the arc, then their offense struggles. While they have players such as Andre Iguodala, David Lee, and Curry that can attack the basket and finish at the rim, their offense truly flourishes as a result of their three-point shooting.
Only the Atlanta Hawks have been down by five points in the final five minutes in a game more than the Warriors, and the difference is only one game: 25 times for Atlanta and 24 for the Warriors. And while the Warriors end up winning about 40 percent of those contests, against the top teams in the West, they can’t risk putting themselves in that predicament.
The 2014 starting Western Conference point guard at the All-Star game is poised for a big performance in New Orleans this February, but if he doesn’t perform better in late game situations for his Warriors, then his numbers are a bit of fool’s gold.