Although the Warriors don’t have as good of a record this season as they had last season, the Warriors are better than they were last year by almost any statistical metric. With Kevin Durant added to their core, their dominance has felt inevitable.
But this regular season has weirdly lacked the excitement of last year’s.
It’s a strange phenomenon, due to a variety of different reasons. But without a doubt, the one most scintillating thing we witnessed last year was Stephen Curry’s scoring. What he did with his shooting, playmaking, and finishing inside seemed to defy all laws of probability, all preconceptions about basketball. It was one of the greatest regular seasons of all time.
In the dog days of the 2016-2017 season, that same Steph has quietly returned.
Early in the season, the Warriors’ primary goal was to incorporate superstar Kevin Durant into their offense. The team shared the ball, Kevin Durant shined, and easy buckets were aplenty. But against great teams, the turnovers and isolation possessions led to a stagnating offense, especially in crunch time. The offense was missing its key ingredient from a year ago: a crazy Stephen Curry.
Just a few weeks before All-Star Weekend, the offense has just that. The team is at its best when it’s Stephen’s team, and its best has limitless potential.
Stephen Curry struggled early in the season with his shooting, missing many of the off-the-dribble looks he sunk with ease last season. Whether it was due to acclimatizing to the new offense, overcoming injury, or regression to the mean, he’s found his old self again. Steph showed off the full repertoire of his skills tonight, and Oracle Arena found its electricity again.
In three quarters, Stephen Curry scored 39 points with eleven threes. Klay Thompson added 29 and a career-high eight assists, and JaVale McGee impressed filling in for the injured Zaza Pachulia. Kevin Durant and Draymond Green had rough shooting nights, but the Warriors were able to keep a large margin for the entire game regardless.
Meanwhile, the Warriors shut down Kemba Walker on the other end, only allowing him seven points. Other than bench players like Marco Belinelli and Frank Kaminsky, no Hornets could find holes in a stalwart Warriors defense.
The Warriors were great when Kevin Durant was at the helm, but they are a monster with Steph commanding the offense with the ball in his hands. With contenders like the Cavaliers, Raptors, and the Clippers going through rough patches in the season, the Warriors look far and away like the league’s best.
Steph Curry ends Marvin Williams, the Warriors bench properly responds pic.twitter.com/vnkXj10ZxY— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) February 2, 2017
If you think Russell Westbrook is better than Steph Curry, you are a believer in Alternative Facts pic.twitter.com/qa5O4IMYjv— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) February 2, 2017
- Warriors rookie Damian Jones got his first NBA bucket tonight on a dunk, and followed it up with two free throws. Congrats, rook!
- Anderson Varejao had six minutes of work tonight, and will be up against DeAndre Jordan and DeMarcus Cousins in the next two games because of the Warriors’ frontcourt injury woes. We’ll see how that goes.
- Ian Clark’s shot hasn’t fallen lately, and we’ve seen Kerr go more with Patrick McCaw early in the game as a result. They’ve both been inconsistent offensively, but McCaw’s defense is already a step above Clark’s. Hopefully, one or both will improve enough to warrant a consistent spot in the playoff rotation.