It’s a great time to be alive for Stephen Curry fans.
After a sizzling start to the season, Curry winked out of existence for a moment on the basketball court due to a strained groin. In his absence, the Warriors - a team stacked with so much talent that folks call them unfair - have struggled. But even more than the win-loss record, those struggles have been niggling into all the little cracks, sowing doubt about the viability and fragility of the house that was supposedly built light years beyond the rest of the league.
Without Curry, the team looked...mundane.
This is a pattern, not a weird little blip. I wrote a while ago about how Curry may have a reverse “Ewing effect” by serving as too much of a crutch, making it harder for the team to survive without him. Monday’s explosion was very much a display of the other side of this truth: everything just goes easier with Curry around.
Curry had yet another memorable performance on Monday night against the Atlanta Hawks with 30 efficient points (including six made threes). 18 of those points came in the first quarter where he hit his first six shot attempts and outscored the entire Hawks team in the quarter.
Just absolutely ridiculous.
This game was pretty much over in the first quarter. The daunting power of the trifecta of Curry, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson is already looming over the entire league but the league tends to have a short memory. After a hot start, the power of this team was starting to drift away from the collective conscious of the NBA.
We didn’t need a new free agent, or for Kerr to redesign the offense, we just needed Curry back. After a disappointing loss in Detroit over the weekend, Curry looked much better in his second game back from injury.
During the game, Dell Curry sat with the broadcast team and talked about his son’s offseason. One of the most salient details mentioned was that with the birth of his boy Cannon, Steph traveled much less frequently than his normal offseason. Combined with his impressive work ethic, that meant that Steph came into this season in what was almost certainly the best condition of his entire career. So far, the work is paying off.
If Curry can keep up this pace of play (and not lose any more significant time to injury), we may be looking at another MVP award.
Steph Curry now has 411 points on 275 shots (1.49 PPS). That was the same mark as his 2015-16 season, by the way. Last year, he finished even better at 1.56— Shane Young (@YoungNBA) December 4, 2018
He has 71 three-pointers through 14 games — on pace for 355 if he plays 70 games. That would be his second-most ever
Other Warrior Wonder candidates?
Okay, just for fairness, we’ll put these other names in the poll - I’m actually curious to see if they get votes, because both players had good games. Beyond just the individual stat lines, it seemed as if both players had learned something in their time without Curry and leveraged those new skills to their advantage.
Kevin Durant was the presumptive torch bearer in Curry’s absence, pulling the team forward with his scoring and playmaking on both end. While he notably only needed 13 field goal attempts to score his 28 points, he also added seven assists, four rebounds and two steals. Not bad!
Thompson poured in a smooth 27, hitting threes, but also showing some flashes of the playmaker role that he was forced into over the past few weeks. Now the pump fakes are followed by drives to the hoop that are actually threatening.
Who was your Warrior Wonder against the Hawks?
This poll is closed
The Golden Sidekick: Kevon Looney with a career-high (and a solid overall performance)
Due to the unfortunate injury to Damian Jones, the Warriors were forced into a move that many fans have been clamoring for - slotting Kevon Looney in as the starting center. Looney was great from the opening whistle and immediately impacted the game with a steal and a rebound on the games’ first two possessions. Though lacking the stature of Jones, Looney is a much more cerebral player with a nose for the ball and the defensive versatility to surve anywhere on the court, from the wings to the post.
Not much of a scorer, Looney took advantage of his opportunity and managed to set a new career high with 14 points to go along with four rebounds and five assists. Already the most consistent option at center so far this season, it was nice to see him maintain excellence when called on to do just a little bit more.
As above, I don’t really see any other player coming within sniffing distance of this prestigious award, but just in case, here’s your voting options:
Who’s your pick for the Golden Sidekick against the Hawks?
This poll is closed
Kevon "career high" Looney
Jonas "thank goodness we have a bench shooter" Jerebko
Andre "I’ll do it all, but don’t ask me to score" Iguodala
Jordan "what am I doing around the rim" Jordan