14 Jan

Stephen Curry is struggling as ‘unfair’ burden to carry Warriors has never been heavier

The Golden State Warriors have been doing everything they can to keep their heads above water this season. On top of being an aging, largely un-athletic team with major roster and rotational challenges, Draymond Green’s antics and subsequent suspensions (the latest one of which he is yet to return from) have hung a heavy cloud over the entire organization.

And now Stephen Curry is struggling, too.

Over his last 15 games, Curry’s shooting percentages are below 36% from 3-point range and 42% overall. He has gone deep into multiple games with single-digit points. He put up nine total points in a loss to the Raptors on Sunday. After logging an NBA record 268 straight games with at least one made 3-pointer, he has been shut out from beyond the arc twice in the past three weeks, including an 0-for-9 line against Toronto.

Curry will usually have a stretch or two like this every season, where he puts up numbers that, while they don’t look all that bad for anyone else, are bottom of the barrel by his standards. And the problem is, the Warriors, as crazy as this sounds, have never been more dependent on Curry being great.

Yes, they have always struggled, at least relatively, without Curry on the floor, even when they had Kevin Durant. But as long as he was playing his mere presence alone was typically worth enough given all the talent he had around him to pick up actual production slack.

Now Curry has to be great, all the time, for the Warriors to even be consistently competitive. If he isn’t, they are a flat out bad team. Steve Kerr recognizes the increased load Curry is having to carry, both mentally and physically, on this particular Warriors team, and he believes it’s due to a variety of factors.

One, the way that Curry is mercilessly defended without another threat on the court even close to his level. Two, fatigue, which stems largely from number one. And three, all the mental energy he’s having to spend dealing with the Draymond Green drama. Add it all up, and Kerr believes “the burden that Stephen Curry has on him for this franchise is unfair.”

“We’ve thrown a ton on his shoulders,” Kerr said as he referenced Green’s suspension and the added responsibility that has put on Curry to pick up Green’s half of the vocal leadership duties.

Also, Kerr is searching endlessly for lineup combinations that can maximize Curry, who needs teammates to read and react quickly to his random movement and relocations, who can anticipate his whereabouts ahead of time and be skilled enough passers/screeners to unlock, almost instantaneously, open looks for the most defensively tracked player in history.

“We’re trying to integrate a lot of young players,” Kerr said. “Steph has a very unique style. It’s the play after the play that matters with Steph, and we’ve put him in some combinations where the play after the play isn’t happening, and that’s frustrating for him.”

“The burden that Steph Curry has on him for this franchise is unfair.”

  • Steve Kerr

(🎥 @NBCSWarriors )


— NBACentral (@TheDunkCentral) January 10, 2024
Kerr is right about all this. But early in the season, Curry was up to the task. He was playing brilliantly. As great as he ever has, perhaps, all things considered. Now he’s off his game, and the Warriors — who, as a side note, absolutely have to make a trade if they want to even fool themselves into thinking they can truly contend in the playoffs, or even get there for that matter — are taking on water.

Entering play on Wednesday, Golden State is 17-19. That’s worse than the Utah Jazz and the fourth-worst mark in the Western Conference. If the postseason started today, they wouldn’t even qualify for the Play-In Tournament.

Curry feels that pressure, and right now Kerr believes it’s weighing him down. It’s hard to argue with him when you watch Curry struggle the way he has for a pretty extended period now. We’ll see where it goes from here.

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