Golden State Warriors

Shoot, Steph! Shoot! Warriors’ Stephen Curry putting up shots at a career-high rate

The plight of Stephen Curry in this very early, post-bubble NBA season, has been a bit of a roller coaster. The journey is on an upswing, with the star guard’s 62-point performance against the Blazers on Sunday and a 30-point effort the next day versus the Kings.

So it’s no surprise that Curry is averaging a career-high amount of shots at more than 20 a game. A week ago, however, with Blazers guard Damian Lillard questioning Curry’s ability to get quality shots at all, Curry faced his doubters. There’s a long way to go in this unusual Warriors season, but it appears the All-World stylings of Curry are back and he has full licence to shoot.

Well, he’s always had that. But The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami predicts a season-long theme of this Curry aggressiveness because that’s what the team needs, and he apparently still has it, so to speak. Here’s part of what Kawakami wrote, with a focus on how Curry is scoring thus far and an exact figure on that career high that I mentioned.

Curry is averaging 21.3 shot attempts per game (and that’s with taking Monday night’s fourth quarter off), which would, if sustained for the entire season, also be the highest number of his career.

The big leap here comes from his 2-point attempts, which are up to 9.3 per game and certainly explainable by the defensive commitment to force him off the 3-point line. In his cameo last season, he put up 6.6 shots per game from inside the arc. In 2018-19, it was 7.7. Curry hasn’t taken this many 2-point shots since the 2013-14 season, when he averaged 9.8 per game.

Curry is also averaging eight free throw attempts per game, by far the highest rate of his career. (His career average is 4.1 per.) I don’t know if that can be sustained, but obviously, with his career 90.7 free throw percentage, that is a handful of extra points per game for Curry and helps chew up a defense.

The Athletic

It will be interesting if Curry sustains his high rate of 2-pointers taken. Ideally, he’d shoot fewer of those and more 3-point shots. Not only is he deadly accurate, but Curry wont pay a physical toll as he often does when inside the arch. But it’s working now, and the defense will have to account for that along with the free throws that come with it. It’s likely not sustainable, with Curry set to turn 33 years of age in March. But Curry has surprised before. If his current method of scoring works and he can stay healthy, so be it.

He’s famously lethal from the 3-point line, however, and I’d expect his 2-pointers and free throws to go down somewhat significantly. And that’s all good. As the Warriors learn to play as a group, he’ll get more looks outside. Here’s some more thoughts from The Athletic, this time from Seth Partnow, about Curry’s rough start from 3-point land this season.

 A “bad streak” for Curry saw him open the season with a True Shooting Percentage of “only” 58.3 — still well above league average — on a gargantuan 32.2 usage rate. However, he had made only 18-of-56 3-pointers. Everybody panic! Except, such a string of rough shooting is … entirely normal. Throughout his career, Curry has had stretches of five consecutive games during which his total 3-point accuracy was 32.1 percent (his mark through five games this season) 48 times, or roughly once every 13 games. In other words, once a month.

The Athletic

Partnow notes that Curry’s streak just happened to lead the season off. It’s incredible that the world’s best shooter can have rough stretches, but if you watch every Warriors game, it’s not a surprise. Curry will be human once in a while, essentially. The rest of the time, he’s unreal. At the moment, it appears as though that’s the Curry the Warriors will have this season, and the player the rest of the NBA will try to stop.

(Photo credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

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