The implications of being an ever-improving back-to-back MVP and living up to ridiculous numbers from last season has caught up to Stephen Curry.
The Golden State Warriors point guard has fallen short of replicating last season’s historic numbers and has been under criticism for not shooting the ball as effectively and not taking over games as often as he did in the last regular season.
“Yeah, I heard the words ‘slump’ and ‘down year’ and all sorts of other ways to describe something that wasn’t really a problem for me,” Curry told ESPN’s Chris Haynes. “I obviously hold myself to the highest standard. Still, at this point, I’m not at the numbers I was last year, but I’m not worried about that because it’s a different year. Every shot I take, I have confidence I’m going to make it, and over the course of the season, I expect that to show itself as we go along.”
Curry doesn’t have nearly the usage rate that he had in 2015-16 and is playing off the ball a lot more this year to allow more touches and operating space to new teammate, Kevin Durant. While both have thrived in the offense, they’re still unable to rack up career numbers because there isn’t enough touches through 48 minutes to get them there.
“There’s a lot of scrutiny over something, to me, that wasn’t really an issue — knowing that it will all average out, most likely,” Curry said. “I try to get better from year to year, so if you survey it from that standpoint just off of raw numbers, I’m not achieving my goal right now. But there are a lot of things that go into it, obviously.
“It doesn’t matter what the numbers say. If we’re winning, and I’m doing my job, my teammates know I’m doing my job, that’s all I’m worried about.”
The 6-foot-3 marksman hasn’t had the 50-45-90 shooting line that famously lined him up as an unanimous MVP last season, but is shooting 47 percent from the floor and 40.1 percent from deep — both way over the NBA average numbers for a player at his position.
If that wasn’t enough, Curry is making 93.2 percent of his free throws while making a a career-high 4.7 off five attempts per game.
“If people think that you’re just supposed to do that every year, that’s crazy,” said head coach Steve Kerr. “Ted Williams didn’t hit .400 every year, but every year he hit about .350, .360, and that’s what Steph is doing. The expectations on Steph are outrageous.”
Williams, who was arguably the purest hitter of all-time, batted .406 in 1941 — the following year, his average dipped to .356, an average that would have probably secured the batting crown in most years.
Curry’s teammate, Andre Iguodala, said he was dumbfounded when first hearing of a slump when it came to his point guard.
“I be like, ‘What are y’all even talking about?’ Like, why? That’s just the world we live in,” Iguodala said. “It’s like, whatever. You can be on the best team and winning the most games and they’ll try to find something. It’s almost sad because they look for things to say negative. They just look [for] something, anything.”
Iguodala blames the media for going far out to find a talking point.
“I think they’re just looking for something,” Iguodala continued. “It’s not just that he set the bar so high. I don’t think it’s that. It’s just the hate. That’s just how they’ve been since the beginning of time. And you’re not going to write that, but that’s just how they are. Since the beginning of time, it’s some things that we can do that they can’t do. And they’ve been trying ever since to either try to do it, which they can’t, and they figure that out, and to make us feel less than what we are.”