The Golden State Warriors are off to a hot start to the 2013-14 NBA season, thanks in large part to the success of Stephen Curry.
This year, if the Warriors plan to make the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1991-92, Curry will once again be responsible for leading the charge. Although a return trip to the playoffs is a fine goal for a franchise with such well documented struggles, the Warriors ceiling is even higher. If Curry’s health can hold up, his shooting prowess will elevate Golden State to among the elite teams in the Western Conference.
After he set the NBA single-season record last year by making 272 3s, expectations were sky high for Curry. While many people would argue that he has actually started off rather poorly this season, considering how well he shot the ball last year, Curry is still averaging 19.9 points per game, on 45.8 percent shooting from the field. He has made 32 3s, and he is shooting 43.8 percent from long distance. It is a frightening thought for the rest of the league to think that Curry has yet to come close to reaching his potential.
Curry, much like LeBron James, is a player that opposing teams cannot risk leaving alone, whether it is in a half court set or in transition. He is shooting 28-of-61 on above the break 3s, an impressive 45.9 percent. He is only shooting 36.4 percent on corner 3s, but it is still early in the year, and his numbers from that area on the floor are likely to improve. Regardless of where he is on the court, defenders always need to keep their eyes on him. If not, they risk allowing him to hurt them from other areas, as is evident by his 46.8 percent shooting from mid-range.
Part of Curry’s success in shooting from outside has to do with Golden State’s ability to run in transition. The Warriors average 99.72 possessions per 48 minutes, which is good for seventh-best in the NBA. Golden State averages 17.4 fast break points per game, with many of those points coming off the hands of Curry. If teams are slow to get back on defense, Curry will hurt them from outside. This is evident by his 4.3 fast break points per game, with a handful of those coming on pull up jumpers in transition.
Curry is arguably the most dangerous pull up shooter in the NBA. He attempts 13 pull up shots per game and is successful on 40 percent of those. He averages just under 20 points per game, with 12 of those coming on pull up shots. His great footwork and impressive ball handling skills allow him to stop on a dime and shoot from anywhere on the court. His quick release allows him to get shots up before defenders have any time to react. On 3s, Curry is shooting 38.1 percent on pull up shots, and he attempts a league-leading 4.2 pull up 3s per game.
It is difficult for most players in the league to stop Curry and their best bet is to hope to contain him. Although he hasn’t got off to the start that many people expected, there is a long way to go in the season and his numbers will likely improve.
Statistics used in this post provided by NBA.com/Stats