On Jan. 5, Stephen Curry missed eight of his nine 3-point attempts in a loss to the Dallas Mavericks: an ice-cold night that had become all too familiar. At that point in the season, Curry was making 38 percent of his 3s, and he was at 35 percent over the previous five weeks.
And he wasn't just missing. He was missing badly. On Nov. 30, Curry had the worst volume shooting night of his career, 4 for 21, in a loss to the Phoenix Suns. Three nights later, he had the second-worst volume shooting night of his career, 7 for 28, including a paltry 29 percent on 17 3-pointers, against the San Antonio Spurs. Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr said it "looked like fatigue" on the second night of a back-to-back.
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Indeed, theories abounded as to what was going on with the greatest shooter in history.
- His minute rotations had been altered, screwing up his rhythm with shorter bursts of playing time.
- He was tired from his admirable commitment to defense in the absence in Klay Thompson, who had long assumed the tougher backcourt assignments, not to mention all the off-ball movement.
- Defenses were throwing multiple defenders at him on a regular basis.
- He had largely abandoned midrange jumpers in favor of a more analytically friendly shot diet, jacking up more 3-pointers per game than any player in history, too many of which felt forced.
Again, everyone had a different explanation for the slump. But the one thing everyone agreed on? It wouldn't, it couldn't, last much longer. "He's going to break out of this pretty quickly," Kerr said after that 1-for-9 showing vs. Dallas.
But he didn't break out of it. Over his next three games he shot 30 percent from 3 (8 for 26). Still, nobody panicked. He caught a little warm streak over his next two games, 8 for 18, but then fell right back into a 13-for-52 crevice -- including a 1-for-13 showing -- over his next four.
On Jan. 28, when Curry was at a career-low 37 percent from 3 for the season, Marcus Thompson from The Athletic reported that Curry had stumbled upon an "Aha! moment in practice" the day before, realizing that he was too far up on his toes upon his release, rather than on the balls of his feet, which was costing him push and subsequently power.
It was true, a lot of his shots were short. It seemed like the discovery held merit when Curry shot 6 for 10 from 3 against the Minnesota Timberwolves the following night. But again, it didn't last.
"It'll come around for him," Kerr said after Curry shot 3 for 10 from 3, and 5 of 18 overall two nights later.
The light flickered back on when Curry shot 8 of 13 from deep against the Los Angeles Clippers on Valentines Day, but then he went into the All-Star break on a 1-for-7 outing against the Denver Nuggets. When Curry went old-school nuclear in the All-Star Game with 16 3-pointers, I wondered, or should I say hoped, that the momentum would carry over.
Nope. In his first two games out of the break, Curry is 5 for 17 from 3 (29 percent) and under 40 percent overall. On Sunday, Curry shot 3 of 10 from downtown as the Warriors blew a 21-point lead in a loss to Dallas.
Until this changes, you're going to continue to hear all the explanations for why Curry shooting so poorly isn't a big deal. He's passing great. Even when he's not making shots, he's still creating open looks for everyone else with his well-chronicled gravity. His on-off numbers are still elite, and ultimately that tells the story of his value.
This is all true. But that doesn't change the fact that Curry simply has not been able to make shots for any consistent length of time this season. And all the other great stuff he does notwithstanding, that is likely going to catch the Warriors, if not over the course of the regular-season stretch run, then certainly in the playoffs. Like everyone else, I don't expect this to last. But we've all been saying that for a long time now.