The Golden State Warriors will need Stephen Curry more than ever this season. It’s possible that his usage rate could reach historic levels.
The 2019-20 NBA season is quickly approaching. With Kevin Durant gone and Klay Thompson nurturing a torn ACL, the Golden State Warriors will be relying heavily on Stephen Curry to carry the offensive load.
For the last five years, Curry has always had an elite scorer next to him. In the beginning, it was Thompson. While many may not view Thompson as a scorer, his ability to light it up from deep off of the catch-and-shoot gave Curry a realistic running mate to operate the offense with.
Eventually, Draymond Green emerged as a versatile forward who could bring the ball up the floor and create plays for others. The dynamic between this trio unlocked a truly special offense, paving way for the Dubs patented “death lineup”.
Once Durant finally joined, the Dubs had a historic level of firepower. The four-time scoring champion put them over the top, allowing the Warriors to fire on all cylinders at the flip of a switch.
During this time, Curry’s usage rate slowly balanced out to around 30.0 percent. He reached his peak in the 2015-16 season when his usage rate of 32.5 percent marked one of the 100 highest usage ratings of all-time. As we all know, Curry won his second MVP and became the first-ever unanimous winner of the award in that season.
As one would expect, Curry’s usage rate dipped once Durant joined the team. However, it still remained above 30 as Curry’s impact on the offense was too valuable for him to have his role decreased anymore.
This season, we may see Curry surpass his rating from the 2016 season. The franchise is going to desperately need a historic season from their point guard if they want to remain one of the top teams in the Western Conference.
We should see D’Angelo Russell assist in carrying some of the offensive load, but Russell is nowhere near as gifted of a scorer as Thompson or Durant. Consequently, a majority of the weight will land on Curry’s shoulders.
Highest single-season usage rates in NBA history:
- Russell Westbrook – 41.7 percent (2016-17)
- James Harden – 40.0 percent (2018-19)
- Kobe Bryant – 38.7 percent (2005-06)
Currently, the highest usage rate for a single season was set by Russell Westbrook in the 2016-17 season. Russ posted a rate of 41.7 following the aftermath of losing Durant. The loss of Durant won’t have as big of an impact on the Warriors as it did on Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Still, there is no telling how much the Dubs will end up relying on Curry this season. The Western Conference is as deep as ever, placing immense pressure on the Dubs to perform all year long.
If I had to make a prediction, I would assume Curry’s usage rate ends up in the 35 percent range. This would instantly place him in the top 25 all-time for a single-season. This is obviously a heavy price to pay for a player entering his 11th NBA season, but it may be necessary to hold on to a top playoff spot.