In a win against the Minnesota Timberwolves Tuesday night, Steph Curry scored 36 points on 12-21 shooting and going 8-14 from three. When you compute the numbers, that’s 57% from the floor and the same from three-point land.
Over the years Curry blended these type of nights-volume and efficiency to help curate a new type of NBA. Because of how many times Curry has taken-and made shots, teams have had to alter their defensive strategy, while changing course on their offensive philosophies, too. The NBA landscape today has adjusted to the pace-and-space style Curry and the Warriors started.
But as of late, it appears Curry has favored volume over being efficient. In the last 11 games, Curry has only shot above 50% from the floor two times. From three-point range, he’s only shot above 40% four times. While his field goal attempts have been slightly moderate (21.3 attempts) his three-point attempts are at a whopping 13.4 per game.
In a loss to the Spurs, he attempted 18 three-pointers, connecting on six. Against the Magic, he attempted 33 field goals and only made 12. Maybe it’s not a coincidence that the Warriors are a 6-5 during this stretch.
Curry commented on the confidence in his shot after the Spurs loss. Rightfully, he believes every shot he takes is going in.
“I might be delusional. But every time I shoot it, I feel like it’s going in,”
Nothing at all is wrong with this logic. The issue at hand comes that Curry’s brilliant combination of volume and efficiency has become more Harden-esque. James Harden isn’t the most efficient player, but he uses volume to rack up points quicker than the average. Curry has delicately balanced being efficient while hoisting shots in the Kerr era. However, the last 11 games we’ve watched Curry use volume to shoot his way back into games.
With Curry, implying that he adjust his game is a tricky task. He has made a living on transition threes and 30-plus feet shots. It’s apart of his game and has become the brand of the Warriors. Focusing on taking fewer shots would be a total identity revamp.
However, Curry changing his focus to efficiency instead of volume isn’t too far fetched of idea. 12 three point attempts a game could go to seven. With that said, transition three’s could turn into driving layups. Curry won’t be compelled to shoot his way back, instead, letting the game come to him naturally.
Warrior runs have become symbolic for how legendary their offensive system has been in the Kerr era. Whether it’s a three from Curry or a fantastic layup/acrobatic shot, Warrior runs have the potential to become back-breaking. But it all starts with Curry, and of course, the ball going in the basket.
But to conclude, the Warriors have the luxury of having such a great problem. Curry is the only NBA player who can take 20 three-pointers, and make half of them. Then again, he’s the only player who has the green light to take that many three’s, miss 16 of them and have the leeway to shoot the same amount the next game.
Going forward, though, focusing on efficient basketball should pay dividends in Curry getting ready for the postseason. The Warriors are lethal as is: even with Curry in a slump. But they are even scarier when he’s on while taking smarter shots.
Curry is still having a phenomenal year, and will likely be a First Team All-NBA player. But Curry getting back to being Curry-esque, not Harden-esque, could be the difference between staying at three NBA titles and adding a fourth.