The Golden State Warriors have only just begun digging themselves out of an early-season hole. Friday’s feel-good win over the Latest York Knicks was a positive step in the precise direction, but still no surefire indicator of the Warriors’ ability to repeat as champions come spring and summer.
Here’s what to know from the Warriors’ much-needed win over the Knicks, including Klay Thompson finally beginning to settle in.https://t.co/MAiVq7N076
— Warriors Nation (@WarriorNationCP) November 19, 2022
Golden State, though, isn’t the one Western Conference team with aspirations of a deep playoff run that’s underwhelmed over the primary the month of 2022-23. And in contrast to the LA Clippers, Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Lakers, at the very least the Warriors can depend on one of the best offensive player in basketball while attempting to muster a consistently winning identity.
Stephen Curry, unbelievably, has been higher than ever during his team’s uneven 7-9 start, constructing on the epic performance that resulted in winning his first Finals MVP last June.
How’s he doing it? The league’s all-time leader in triples has prolonged his peerless touch and shot-making flair to the rim, where Curry is suddenly amongst probably the most dominant finishers in basketball.
1 nice surprise for Warriors early in 2022-23: Stephen Curry’s ending
Curry is shooting a mind-blowing 76.4% on the rim this season, per NBA.com/stats. That’s not only a straightforward career-high, however the ninth-best mark within the league amongst players who’ve taken at the very least 55 shots from the restricted area.
The lone guard more efficient from that hallowed ground than Curry? Donovan Mitchell, whose explosiveness is clearly on a complete different level than Curry’s. Jayson Tatum is the one other non-big who’s been higher than Curry on the rim; the seven other players above him in restricted area accuracy all stand 6’11 or taller.
It’s not like Curry’s proficiency across the basket is being boosted by easy layups and dunks created via lobs or dump-offs from teammates, either. He’s shooting 61.4% on drives, per NBA.com/stats, fourth-best within the league behind Luka Doncic, Mitchell and De’Aaron Fox, not to say a full 12 points higher than his mark last season.
After going 7-of-9 from the restricted area within the Warriors’ early November win over Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen and the Cleveland Cavaliers, Curry was asked to elucidate how he’s leveled up as a finisher at 34 years old, in his 14th NBA season.
“Obviously knowing I can shoot the ball and may put numerous pressure on defenses there, you gotta give you the chance to have a changeup to get to the paint and find creative ways to complete. I’m not playing above the rim, so it’s only a matter of playing angles and having some touch in there,” he told Nate Duncan. “But you gotta use your shot as a threat to open up driving lanes, and I’ve been capable of do this even coming off great screens from guys. Not being afraid of contact, either. I don’t get to the foul line that much, but still, just attempting to determine the right way to get your lane, get your driving angle, protect the ball, get it on the rim and hope it goes down.”
Curry’s effectiveness on the rim isn’t entirely recent. It was on display throughout the Warriors’ championship run last season, a driving force behind his ability to roast the Boston Celtics’ array of standout individual defenders in isolation from all three levels of the ground.
Draymond Green boasted in late June that Golden State would win “three of the following 4 championships” largely resulting from a much bigger, stronger Curry taking bumps on the drive and ending anyway. That’s definitely an optimistic assessment of the Warriors’ future, but not because Green is mistaken about his longtime teammate’s evolution.
“I’m pretty certain that is why we’ll win three of the following 4 NBA championships.” Draymond Green has utmost confidence in Steph Curry and the Dubs going forward.https://t.co/s22n3uC9Ze
— Warriors Nation (@WarriorNationCP) June 28, 2022
Curry actually wasn’t converting these shots on the trail to superstardom within the mid-2010s, and even when Kevin Durant called the Bay home. He embraces physicality across the basket now, fully confident he’s built up the ability needed to complete through defenders.
The identical attributes that make him one of the best shooter ever separate Stephen Curry from even the likes of Mitchell and Fox as a finisher on the drive, too. No player within the league—with the notable exception of Doncic—can match his combination of touch, ingenuity and balance through contact while penetrating.
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Watch him beat Bam Adebayo, considered one of the league’s best isolation defenders, off the bounce within the clip below, then briefly slow right down to bump him and create additional space to complete.
It’s not fair for defenders.
There was once a blueprint to defending Stephen Curry. The Cleveland Cavaliers utilized it to perfection within the 2016 NBA Finals, switching across five positions to press him on the perimeter and make Curry feel constant contact once he creased the paint, a plan he’s rendered wildly outdated.
No NBA player is actually “unstoppable.” But like his shooting prowess modified the sport without end, Curry’s newfound status as an elite finisher is expanding the boundaries of what seem possible for even all-time greats late of their careers.