You’ve heard the trope a million times while watching a basketball game. A slumping shooter gets a layup, or earns a trip to the free throw line for an uncontested shot, and the broadcaster remarks about how “seeing one go down” will help them break out of their slump. Golden State Warriors broadcasters Bob Fitzgerald and Kelenna Azubuike, like probably all NBA broadcasters, are fond of mentioning this.
It’s an accepted truism in basketball circles, even if I’m unaware of anyone actually doing studies to see if there’s any validity in it. Whether or not there is might be beyond the point; it’s a sensible narrative, and an accurate reflection as to the mindset that the players on the court have.
And I’m curious if it might extend to Steph Curry following his explosion in the All-Star Game.
Curry has been slumping by his greatest-shooter-of-all-time standards lately, and made just 34.6% of his threes in the five games prior to the break — and just 35.7% in the 12 games before the All-Star Game, if you prefer a larger sample size.
And then he went scorched earth in Cleveland, making 16 threes on 27 attempts en route to a 50-piece and MVP honors.
Sure, there’s no defense in All-Star games, but Curry made up for that by shooting a variety of high-difficulty threes. He chucked them from the logo; he shot them off balance; he stepped back into them; he even made a running one-footer from beyond the arc.
He looked, emphatically, like the greatest shooter to ever play the game.
Which is convenient, because that’s what he is.
That had to feel good for Curry. And seeing him smiling, dancing, shimmying, and galloping on the Cleveland court gave you the sense that he was feeling some relief at seeing the ball drop through the net time and time again.
Will that relief carry over into the final stretch of the season? Will the confidence and comfort in his jumper come home with him from Cleveland?
He’ll need it to in a big way if he wants to match his standards for shooting. Curry has made 37.9% of his shots from distance this year — setting aside the 2019-20 season in which he played just five games, his previous career low is 41.1%.
Assuming he plays all of Golden State’s 23 remaining games (unlikely, but whatever), and continues to hoist 12.3 attempts per game, he’ll need to shoot 128-for-283 — 45.3% — from long range to avoid dipping below 40% on threes for the first time in his career.
We all know better than to bet against him. Here’s hoping that All-Star display is just the start of things ...