Warriors superstar guard Stephen Curry is hailed by many as the greatest shooter of all time.
But that’s not the case in the NBA All-Star game. His career shooting percentage in the mid-season classic is surprisingly low. Overall, Curry has shot 38 percent in six All-Star appearances, connecting on just 32 percent of his 3-point attempts.
That doesn’t mean Curry hasn’t had his share of great moments in the game over his career, but he’s rarely been himself. His best performance was in 2015-16, when he scored 26 points on 10-for-18 shooting overall and 6-for-13 from distance.
His performance in the following season’s game was also representative of Curry’s skills. He scored 21 points on 8-for-16 shooting, including 5-for-11 from 3-point range.
But other than that, he’s struggled mightily. Before I lay those stats out, here are some of Curry’s best moments in the mid-season showcase, just as a reminder, if needed, that Curry’s All-Star career is fairly solid and has produced distinctive plays.
Those are no doubt some sensational moments. Most of them are passes, however, rather than shots. That’s reflective of Curry’s poor shooting percentage in the game, and it also points to the fact that Curry is certainly looking to do more than score buckets when he’s on the court with the other All Stars.
But in the Bay Area, we get to watch Curry shoot the lights out all the time, and it’s marvelous. A “Curry Flurry” is what it’s called, and the All-Star audience needs to see it. His two solid games came close to “flurry” status, but weren’t quite there. Curry has tried to find the zone on the big stage but simply hasn’t for most of the time.
Curry’s overall shooting percentages in All-Star games, other than the two listed above, are: 29 percent, 38 percent, 29 percent and 26 percent. His 26-percent game came in 2018-19, as he hoisted up 17 3-pointers and made just four. That wasn’t even his worst All-Star shooting percentage from beyond the arch; he shot 2-for-11 in his first All-Star game and hit on just 3-of-10 3s the following year before having his two solid efforts.
In all, he’s scored more than 20 points just twice, with a low mark of 11 points in 2017-18. He had six turnovers that game as well. You can see his complete All-Star numbers here.
So what’s the deal? Why is Curry usually not himself in this game and the owner of a ghastly shooting percentage as an All-Star?
It’s hard to say, but I think much of it is because the All-Star game, for most of Curry’s career, has involved plays at the hoop, since defense hasn’t been a priority for most All-Stars. Curry is most effective from beyond the arch when the defense pays close attention to him. That way, he can use his handles to free himself up for a shot from distance or fake the 3 to get past his man and drive for a layup.
That could be why Curry surprised many by dunking the basketball frequently in some recent All-Star games. He’s learned that’s where all the action is at, at least in the past (more on that in a second).
Another point regarding Curry’s All-Star history that I must mention: he’s also won the 3-point shootout and the skills challenge in his career. He’s a mainstay and a feature of the weekend, regardless of his middling performance.
But is this the year Curry goes off on a shooting tear for all the NBA to see? During the actual game? Again, hard to say. But I think the chances are good.
The NBA has changed its All-Star format to make the games more competitive, and that’s the sort of game Curry thrives in. The format has the potential to make All-Star game-flow more like high level regular season or playoff basketball.
With Curry apparently in the middle of his physical and mental prime and the All-Star game format change, this could be the year for Curry’s first 30-point performance in the NBA’s showcase, which is second in panache only to the NBA Finals.
Curry has thrived in The Finals, winning three titles in Golden State, so all of this All-Star talk doesn’t mean much — it’s an exhibition, after all. But you’ve got to figure Curry wants to put on a show. I know I’ll be watching with Curry’s favorite snack — popcorn — in full supply.
(Photo credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports)