Stephen Curry: Even When He’s Off, He’s On


Despite extending their win streak to seven after taking care of the Sacramento Kings on the road, the Golden State Warriors were far from their best. The 9-point difference made the win seem much more favourable than it actually was, with the Warriors held to a season-low 103 points as their shots didn’t seem to fall.

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In the first seven games, it’s starting to seem as though Stephen Curry is the team’s barometer for how they play. He struggled early on, and shot 2-of-10 from behind the arc, but made some big baskets in the second half as the Warriors started their run.

This young season has been a very impressive one for the Warriors’ superstar. Coming into last night’s game, Curry was averaging 35.5 points on 56.9 percent shooting. His offseason work has paid off as he looks greatly improved, even after coming off an MVP winning season.

One of the things he worked on with his performance team was his ability to finish at the rim. Last season, he shot 68.7 percent at the rim, but only 45.8 percent in the 3-10 foot range. This season, those numbers have improved to 73.7 percent and 60 percent respectively. The benefit here is simple: if teams decide to chase Curry off the three-point line, he can still punish them with a high percentage shot at the rim.

A good example of this was last night’s game. Curry’s shooting (along with the rest of the team) was off – he made just 2-of-10 from the three point line and the Kings’ defense double-teamed him at every opportunity. They made him work for his long-range shots, but were more than happy to have him shoot inside the arc. The Kings’ point guard Rajon Rondo is known for his defense, and worked Curry on every possession. He committed six turnovers – a season-high.

But, the team managed to reorganize themselves during the half-time break and came out with a renewed purpose. Curry began to attack the basket, and began to score more in the paint. He shot 6-of-8 inside the arc, contrasted to his 2-of-10 outside.

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This flexibility is something that the Warriors will have to exploit more frequently as the season goes on. More teams will employ defenses that aim to stymie Curry at every opportunity, and the Warriors will have to be able to change tactics on the fly.

For Curry, the flexibility allows him to choose how he wants to score depending on how his shot feels. Combined with his ability to read defenses and react accordingly, the Warriors will be well set for any defense teams will throw at them this season.