At the start of this NBA season, a fair amount of prominent league observers didn’t quite know what to expect from Warriors superstar guard, Stephen Curry.
His Splash Brother, Klay Thompson, was again out for the season with injury. The roster was vastly different than the team he led to the NBA Finals in 2019, his last full season before missing almost all of the 2019-20 season with a severely broken wrist.
Even Portland’s Damian Lillard joined the doubters, saying that Curry would learn that it’s not so easy to create his own shot without Thompson or another future hall of fame player, Kevin Durant, who left Golden State after suffering a season-ending injury as the Warriors lost the 2019 finals to the Raptors.
Lillard’s doubts came just days before Curry torched Lillard and the Trailblazers for a career-high 62 points in a Golden State victory.
Doubts erased, I’d say. And I have to think sensible NBA observers would agree.
But seemingly, there’s always more to prove for Stephen Curry. ESPN analyst and former NBA player Ryan Hollins said that if Curry is to be considered “arguably the best point guard of all time,” he has to lead his team to the playoffs this season. Listen to the clip below from Hollins’ appearance on 95.7 The Game’s The Morning Roast.
Man, so it’s just one or the other, is that it? Hollins take could come off as hot, it’s really rather cool, mundane even (but still worth a blog post!)
Of course Curry has to take the Warriors to the playoffs. If that didn’t happen, it would be an utter failure. It is funny, however, that before the season started, some professional analysts questioned whether the Warriors would make the playoffs at all.
After Golden State’s loss to the Suns on Thursday, the fell to ninth place in the Western Conference, which would qualify for the playoffs in this season’s expanded edition of the postseason. But the teams are bunched up tightly right now, and just one win would vault Golden State up the standings.
Here’s what Curry said about that, per Anthony Slater of the Athletic.
“I look at (the standings) every day,” Curry said. “We didn’t play the other day and moved up. It’s all over the place. It’s a jumbled mix between four and, what, 11 or 12? Four and 10? It gives you a little comfort in knowing you could have a four-game win streak and shoot up the standings.”
I expect the Warriors to make the playoffs, led by Curry, who is slated to be an All-Star starter, despite his doubters. But if they somehow don’t, it almost assuredly won’t be Curry’s fault. To look at his career — with the team and individual success he’s enjoyed — to say Curry’s greatness relies on making the playoffs during a year with a new roster and sans Thompson, you simply never appreciated him in the first place.
And I gotta say, that’s odd. Curry is pure joy to watch for those that love basketball. So chalk Hollins up as one player that doesn’t care for Curry’s game, regardless of what he does: whether it’s multiple MVPs, NBA championships, scoring titles, 3-point shooting records with more to come — or maybe/maybe not make the playoffs in a transitional year.
Because whether Hollins accepts it or not, Curry will always be in the conversation for best point guard off all time. That book has been written. Now Curry is working on his squeal, trying to build a second championship-caliber team, starting with a projected playoff run this season.
(Photo credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports)