Moore: Has Stephen Curry Regained His Magical Powers?
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images. Pictured: Stephen Curry and Draymond Green
Rumors of the Splash God’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, it seems.
Steph Curry has scored 92 points in the last two games, shooting 13-of-28 from 3-point range and hitting every possible shot in his arsenal.
This has led to an absolute avalanche, a Curry Flurry, if you will, of repudiative takes.
— Marcus Thompson (@ThompsonScribe) January 4, 2021
Curry played with fire and energy against the Blazers and Kings. And the second that Draymond Green realized, he started looking for Curry every single time he could.
If Klay Thompson makes Curry’s life easier, Draymond makes it more exciting. If Thompson covers for Curry, Draymond enables him. His return was fundamental to getting Steph back to Stephing.
So here’s a question: Where do we go from here?
THE BUCKET OF COLD WATER
When Curry’s going like that, you can feel it no matter where you are. The arena buzzes, even without fans. Social media vibrates at a frequency that could melt titanium. Everyone is rushing to find a television. Watching him, it feels like it’s not really anything the other team is doing; he’s just a special player in the sport’s history, doing what he does at his highest level.
However, given the Warriors and Curry’s struggles this season, it’s important we put things in context.
If you go back and watch, the Blazers’ defense was simply incapable of doing anything. There’s little you can do vs. Curry, especially one on one. But the Blazers are uniquely challenged, and this was the perfect storm to get Steph going.
This was his first bucket. Look at the space Nurkic provides here with a soft drop on the handoff.
That got him going. Robert Covington is a good defender but isn’t the same guy he was before his injury two years ago. More importantly, once Curry beats him, look at Nurkic’s help:
Now he’s cooking, and he knows it, so he goes to the side-step in single coverage on Dame. Covington can’t help despite being a step away; Green will cut to the rim and then find an open shooter. However, any outcomes that result from the ball leaving Curry’s hands on a pass are better than the outcome of the ball leaving Curry’s hands on a shot.
Maybe the bigs should play up, then try and put pressure. I give you this final play, after which Curry went absolutely bonkers:
Again, Portland was the perfect team to get Curry back on track.
The following game was vs. the Kings, in the midst of the star players’ parents saying to trade the other star player. This is the 21st-rated defense in the Kings, and Curry made it look easy.
So yes, maybe Curry has just gone back to being himself. Or maybe the teams that he faced were simply the only level of teams that would enable that given the absence of talent surrounding him now.
Here’s the thing: Curry doesn’t have to dominate great teams for the Warriors to succeed. He can light up the 12 teams with a defensive rating above 110, cook enough, and win enough games to get the Warriors into the playoffs.
The difference between this Curry and Prime Curry is that Curry had a team so good, he could dominate vs. anyone. He may have to pick his spots more now. He may not be lighting up the top teams in the league and may look pedestrian.
Mostly, Curry is experiencing what many stars have before they found, joined, or created great teams. Damian Lillard has never had a No. 1 seed, and Portland’s rarely been favored in a playoff series. Jimmy Butler had to seek out the right situation.
There will be nights, though, when the coverage is soft, and the team is outmatched, and the shots are falling, and that magic will still be in the air.
Curry’s back, but he’s not back to dominating everyone. Maybe that’s next. Maybe this measured context will turn irrelevant as he just blisters the faces of any doubters with his radioactive fission.
But is that Steph will go off vs. the teams that let him and struggle against the good teams that contain him because his teammates are no longer as dangerous. He may have great games when those great teams have bad nights and bad nights when the bad defenses play well or the shots don’t fall.
Curry’s great, amazing, still a phenom. He’s just mortal now.
LeBron James and Kevin Durant at their peak always seem like cyborgs, machines built to destroy that you can’t harm. Giannis Antetokounmpo seems like an alien, able to do physical things that humans cannot.
Curry I’ve always likened to a character from an ancient myth as if touched by the Gods. His powers aren’t violent or superhuman; they’re supernatural. Curry is no common man without Klay Thompson (and Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston and Kevin Durant).
But he is mortal. He’s just shown the league he remains an exceptional mortal among men.