Monday, November 29

Loses sight of Warriors star Stephen Curry at his own risk


Welcome to “One Play!” Throughout the 2021-22 NBA season, our Sporting News staff will analyze certain possessions from certain games and will open the curtains to reveal their broader meaning.

Today, Warriors star Stephen Curry is the center of attention.

Context: Curry was a different player in Golden State’s home opener win on Thursday.

After struggling with his shot against the Lakers, Curry led the Warriors to victory over the Clippers with a maximum of 45 points in 37 minutes of action. He shot 16 of 25 from the field, 8 of 13 from 3-point range and a perfect 5 of 5 from the free throw line.

Curry started the game with 25 points in the first quarter alone and closed it with 10 points in the fourth quarter. He hit two massive 3s down the stretch, one of which was a perfect example of how tough defending is.

MORE: LeBron, Dame Shower Curry With Praise After Monster Quarter

You know what that means: to the movie theater!

The game:

BreakdownCurry recovers a failed triple from Eric Bledsoe and wastes no time getting the ball onto the court.

On the court with Curry are Damion Lee, Andrew Wiggins, Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green. Lee and Wiggins park on opposite corners to space the floor, Iguodala heads for the basket, and Green runs to Curry’s side.

Before crossing the half court line, Curry hands the ball to Lee.

(Instant)

The Clippers are a bit scrambled defensively. Paul George picks up Wiggins and Curry’s pass draws Terance Mann towards Lee. Marcus Morris follows Iguodala into the paint to prevent him from making an easy layup, leaving Bledsoe and Reggie Jackson to cover Green and Curry, who are several feet behind the 3-point line.

The Clippers began possession with two defenders in the vicinity of Curry, but both Bledsoe and Jackson look away from him when the ball leaves their hands.

(Instant)

Curry makes the most of Bledsoe and Jackson’s mistake by flowing straight to Lee.

MORE: Where is the All-Time Curry Peak Located?

Realizing they run the risk of the greatest shooter of all time landing an open 3-pointer with the game on the line, Bledsoe and Jackson bounce back relatively quickly. The problem? Green, who is it almost always on the same page as Curry, parks in front of Curry like he’s setting up a screen, forcing Bledsoe and Jackson to change direction slightly.

(Instant)

This may not be a good look for many NBA players, but it is for Curry, especially when he is red hot:

(Instant)

This is your reminder that Curry logged on 43.7 percent from his 3-point catch-and-shoot attempts last season.

Because it is important: There’s a long list of reasons why Curry is the best shooter we’ve seen, but one of them is that he never stops moving.

Interestingly, one of the blows Curry received out of college was that he was a shooting guard trapped in the body of a point guard. (Those concerns didn’t come out of nowhere, it’s worth noting, as he spent two of his three seasons at Davidson playing alongside a traditional point guard. It wasn’t until his junior season that he took on the point guard duties.) Of course, it has become the best of both worlds ever since. Not only is he probably the best off-dribble shooter we’ve seen, but he’s just as dangerous when he’s not holding the ball in his hands, capable of turning into a 6-foot-2 version of the Klay. Thompson at any time.

MORE: Why did scouts fail Curry so much in 2009?

There are several numbers that speak to his prowess off the ball: few players score as many points as he does off the screens, for example, but George I had a particularly good date on what makes Curry such a dynamic shooter after burning the Clippers to the tune of 45 points.

“You have to know where it is,” George said. “He’s so good. He’s the complete package offensively. He’s so good at throwing all 3s but he’s so good at spreading for layups. He’s mastered how to free himself without dribbling a ball. He’s so elusive and fast. One second you look away, he’s gone. Gone If you’re not attached to him, he’s gone.

“Honestly, it takes a total of five players to figure out where he is because one step and he’s out of there, and he shoots so fast you can’t let him break free.”

SN PREDICTIONS: Will Curry win the MVP?

Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards something similar to say after facing Curry for the first time in his rookie season.

“He never stops moving. You can try to change everything, but you’re going to make a mistake. I don’t know how he got so much energy. He played the entire first quarter and never stopped moving. It’s difficult Guard.”

The work above is a perfect example of what George and Edwards are talking about. The Clippers were in good shape after Bledsoe’s failure, but all it took for Curry to get a good 3 was to drop his guard for a fraction of a second. Bledsoe and Jackson looking away from him was the beginning of the end.

Curry isn’t the only player to benefit from his constant movement, either. Much has been made of Curry’s gravity over the years, a term used to describe how much attention he draws out of fear of his shooting ability. A timely screen or cut can throw out even the best fenders for a loop, like this:

He’s been doing it for years at this point, but his performance Thursday was another reminder that there really are no plays when defending Curry.




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