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Warriors news: Stephen Curry's efficiency, legacy and contract; Andrew Bogut talks about his contract

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The Warriors' streak ended on Saturday, but the admiration of Stephen Curry and all he stands for has not ended. We kick off the week with links to sportswriters who have attempted to put words to this insanity.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors' streak finally ended when they simply ran out of gas on the second game of a road back-to-back after a double-overtime win at the end of a seven-game road trip with one starter out due to injury and another one making his return from one.

It was exactly the type of situation that many figured would end the streak: not so much someone coming up with the perfect strategy to neutralize their weapons, but a team catching them off guard and capitalizing on the opportunity. That's not at all to take anything away from the Milwaukee Bucks, who had exactly the type of length and athleticism in abundance that I thought would give the Warriors trouble in SEGABABA when we discussed who would end the streak during a Golden State of Mindcast some weeks ago; it required the perfect circumstances and the perfect matchup for the Warriors to lose and that game in Milwaukee had all the right conditions for a loss.

What we're left with now is a still-insane 24-1 start to the season and an absolutely remarkable start to the season by defending MVP Stephen Curry — streak or not, what Curry is doing is something to behold and, as one can imagine, one loss in Milwaukee isn't going to end that.

How important is Steph Curry to the Warriors' success?

I was included in an interesting exchange on Twitter last week about whether Curry or Draymond Green is most important to the Warriors' small ball success (see here, here, and here for a reasonable summary of that debate). Ultimately, I'm of the belief that Curry's gravity enables the spacing that makes just about anything the Warriors do to work offensively; I think Green's versatility greatly enhances everything Curry does as the perfect complement offensively and specifically makes the small ball lineup work because he can cover so many holes defensively. You can choose who's therefore most significant in that equation.

Regardless of where you stand in that debate, Wes Goldberg of HP Basketball made a clear case for Curry as the most significant contributor to the Warriors' streak.

Great players have great moments, and this was one of Curry’s. Yeah, this streak wasn’t all Curry, but he was a massively huge part of it. Curry’s stats during the streak: 32.5 points, 6.1 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game. He was a 50-40-90 guy during the streak, at 51.8 percent shooting, 46.5 percent from three-point range and 91 percent on his free throws. This streak doesn’t happen without Curry, and it’s something he can add to his legacy in what is setting up as one of the great two-year runs in NBA history.

To Goldberg's point, I suppose one could argue that the loss to the Bucks only lends further support to the notion that Curry is the key: as reported by ESPN on Saturday night, "Curry was the only Warriors player who played more than a minute to have a plus-minus for the game that was not negative."

But what's most impressive is just how efficient Curry has been while carrying that load. Earlier last week, Justin W. of HP Basketball elaborated on just how amazing Curry's efficiency has been statistically, even referencing some work from an old GSoM friend.

If you zoom out and look at every qualifying season, the effect is greater. Players rarely score as efficiently as Curry does. When they do it’s in a smaller role and they certainly aren’t a team’s lead distributor either. Fittingly, this frontier concept was explored by a Golden State Warrior fan, building a term that would soon be destroyed by his own kin. Some regression should be expected with Curry’s shooting, but even with a modest decline this could be the greatest scoring season ever. Michael Jordan is used as some unreachable measuring stick in many respects, but for this … he’s got nothing on Curry.

But Doc Rivers made a point in an article by Ken Berger of CBS Sports that made me dig into some numbers on my own before sharing this with all of you.

"The biggest point to me is [Stephen] Curry," Rivers said. "Two years ago, Curry asked for the ball. He wanted the ball in his hands more, and it didn't work. Steve Kerr comes in and convinces him, 'You need to have the ball less.' And so when you look at the stats, last year, he had the ball less in his hands than the year before, and he won the MVP. That's a great lesson. You don't need the ball to be great. You need movement. I thought that lesson, for them, was huge. I'm trying to get us to see that too."

Curry doing more with less

When I first read Rivers' quote, it struck me as just another one of Glenn's Cool Stories (TM). But as you look into it a bit more with tracking data from NBA.com/stats, you see he did in fact hit on something.

As I felt when I first read that, Curry does have a higher usage and more touches than he has in the past two years (as far back as NBA.com/stats are publicly available). What's changed is actually the number of seconds per touch: Curry is dribbling less under Steve Kerr than he did under Mark Jackson.

Season

Usage

Touches/G

Secs/touch

Dribbles/touch

Pts/touch

2013-14

28.3

80.4

5.24

5.37

0.297

2014-15

28.9

80.5

3.83

3.71

0.295

2015-16

33.4

89.4

3.84

3.72

0.361

Stephen Curry's usage & touch data (via Basketball-Reference & NBA.com/stats, respectively)

I'm not actually trying to incite a Mark Jackson riot this morning — blame Glenn if that happens.

But those numbers make what he's doing this season all the more remarkable: he has somehow learned to maximize his time with the ball in terms of points per touch without sacrificing a thing in efficiency, at least to his point. In other words, it's not like he's just out there chucking the ball at the rim instead of dribbling — he's not only in position for better shots and taking full advantage of those opportunities but also still mastering what he does within Kerr's system that involves him dribbling less.

Anecdotally, tons of people acknowledge the fact of what a different kind of superstar Curry is, from the joy he leads with to the way he carries himself off the court. But as Doc noted, what might be most impressive in today's superstar-driven, me-first world is that Curry has led while actually accepting a situation in which he has taken less money and dribble-touches to win. He's not demanding the ball is in his hands, yelling at teammates to break them down in order to build them back up or telling the front office who he will and won't play with or for.

If that's not someone we should all want to emulate, I don't know who is.

Stephen Curry's legacy beyond basketball

Speaking of Curry's sacrifices, Adrian Wojnorowski of Yahoo Sports highlighted the financial sacrifice that Curry is making as "the most underpaid athlete in professional sports" (while acknowledging something people sometimes forget when making the point: Curry's ankles were already fragile enough that he was a gamble at the time). The whole article is worth a read as even more insight into what makes Curry tick, but what caught my eye in that piece while perusing links was this line: "Curry is a phenomenon, the Ted Williams of basketball. He shoots the ball the way Williams swung a bat: Genius born of relentless repetition and obsessive study of the craft."

Ted Williams is one of those mythic characters who transcends his sport and carves out a permanent place in the mainstream consciousness, for his feats off the field and on it. It's a lofty comparison, but increasingly becoming something we have to appreciate about Curry's exploits — we're in the midst of a cultural moment that is seeping beyond the confines of basketball.

I'm not nearly a big enough baseball fan to evaluate whether the specific analogy to Williams is apt, but I'll first defer to Dayn Perry's description of Williams' swing at CBS Sports earlier this year...

...hitting artisan Ted Williams had all of this and probably more figured out from a very ripe age, and his swing -- the embodiment of "smooth violence" when he uncoiled upon a pitch -- remains as close to the Platonic ideal as we'll ever get...What amazes me most about this is how Williams wastes so little energy -- he's singular in his movement toward the pitch. As much power as there is in his swing and as much of a complicated mix of the linear and the rotational as there is going on here, look at how still he keeps his head throughout the whole affair. Remarkable.

...and then offer this description of Curry's mechanics, efficiency, and range from Benjamin Morris of FiveThirtyEight Sports.

...the observation that most NBA players generate velocity for their long shots by changing how they jump, while Curry does it entirely with his wrist, is exactly the kind of thing that could explain how Curry is doing things that previously seemed impossible....Curry’s typical voluntary shot from more than 28 feet is worth more than most players’ layups. Moreover, note that Curry’s break from his own precedent is also stunning: He is attempting these shots at three times the rate that he used to, yet he’s making them twice as often!...this simply MUST be too good to be true. Consider the fact that the game has never seen it, and that Curry himself hasn’t shown anything like it before, and it seems like a prototypical case of a thrilling phenomenon destined to come back down to earth.

We certainly haven't seen anything this good in basketball, but maybe we have in other sports...making it possible to imagine something unimaginable being sustainable in basketball? As I said, I'm not a baseball expert so maybe the Williams analogy is off-base, but Woj's statement is certainly a reminder that we're witnessing something special.

In non-Curry news...

  • Gery Woelfel of the Journal Times detailed a string of strangely interconnected poor decisions by the Milwaukee Bucks to the great advantage of the Warriors in the form of missing out on Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson as well as trading Andrew Bogut after the former two didn't work out. Painful narrative for Bucks fans, but one Warriors fans should be able to empathize with.
  • Sam Amick of USA Today transcribed an interview with Andrew Bogut in which he responded to a question about his future in Golden State by saying, "I'm not a greedy guy...I know at what point in my career I am, and I definitely want some stability and to remain in the same place if I can. Obviously this is a great team we have going, and I want to remain here." This is good news.

May the unselfishness continue.

Obviously, there were more links from the weekend that I'm going to leave out as I'm approaching 2000 words, so feel free to drop them in the comments or create a FanShot/FanPost that we can share with our broader community on Facebook and Twitter.