Warriors' Stephen Curry could be poised for his best season yet, and that's a frightening thought
Is there yet another level to Curry's transcendent game? We might just find out
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Three weeks ago, Steph Curry said something that should send shivers down the spines of his opponents this season. Granted, it was media day across the NBA, which led to a tempest of information, players in new uniforms and a meme-worthy laugh that sounded like a cross between a billy goat and Louis Skolnick from "Revenge of the Nerds."
But we should have taken notice.
"It's probably one of the best summers I had in terms of my prep work going into a year," Curry said. "I'm excited with what that will mean on the court."
Here is a two-time MVP -- a revolutionary maven who on a nightly basis climbs over familiar names on the list of the NBA's all-time greats -- essentially telling us that he's got some new tricks in the bag for his 10th NBA season. It's one thing to say it -- there's a running joke that every player says they've lost 15 pounds over the offseason while adding 15 pounds of muscle -- but in a Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday, Curry showed a level of confidence, execution and focus that could be a preview of something truly special.over the
It wasn't just that he poured in a game-high 32 points on 11-for-20 shooting, 5-of-9 from beyond the 3-point line while dishing out nine assists and pulling down eight rebounds -- it was the way he did it. Maybe it was his tremendous summer, like he said. Maybe it's a comfort level in sharing the scoring load with Kevin Durant that's taken a couple of years to perfect. Maybe it was the birth of his third child -- his first son -- Canon, over the summer. Whatever it was, Curry worked the court like a silent assassin, picking apart the Thunder defense with acrobatic layups as mystifying as his signature long-range back-breakers.
Curry's unquestioned pinnacle season came in 2015-16, the year the Warriors set an NBA record with 73 wins. He averaged 30.1 points on 50 percent shooting from the field, 45 percent 3-pointers and 91 percent from the free throw line, and was named the league's first ever unanimous MVP. Conventional thinking dictates that season is Curry's peak, and while he's been phenomenal in the two subsequent campaigns, he'll never eclipse the Mount Everest-sized bar he set for himself during that year.
But what if he does?
Everything you discuss about the NBA preseason deserves a caveat, but Curry scored 83 points in 81 minutes while shooting 56.5 percent from the field, making 14 of his 27 3-pointers (51.9 percent) and all 17 of his free throws. If you're counting at home, that's a true shooting percentage of .776. Curry's career high in true shooting came last season at .675, though he played just 51 games due to injury, and it was .669 in his mind-boggling 2015-16 season.
Forget the 50-45-90 club, which Curry practically invented -- we're talking about the potential for a 55-50-90 season, which sounds like a stat line exclusive to video games, but then you remember who we're talking about. Before Curry burst onto the scene, nobody thought a pull-up 28-footer with your body turned half toward the sideline would be your team's best shot. He's changed our perception of what is possible on a basketball court, so pedestrian limitations no longer apply.
That's the beauty of Steph. Whether he shoots 50 percent from 3 this season is almost irrelevant. The fact that we even think that it's possible given his sheer volume is utterly absurd, and it shows how he's spoiled us over the years with his brilliance.
Following Tuesday night's outburst, a high-scoring, incredibly efficient near-triple-double in the first game of the season, it was telling that almost nobody brought it up. The media didn't really ask about it. Durant, Draymond Green and Damian Jones spoke from the podium with nary a mention of Curry's sterling performance. Even Curry himself leaned against the backdrop as he addressed the media, looking toward the ceiling as he appeared to contemplate what he could have done better.
Kerr, when asked after Tuesday's win if there is still another level to which Curry can soar, gave his signature wry smile as if he's in on something the rest of us aren't.
"I don't know," Kerr said. "I just know he's awesome."
During that same media day where Curry gave us a hint that we could be in store for his best season yet, Kerr, general manager Bob Myers and many of the players spoke about the emphasis of enjoying the moment this season. With an uncertain future in terms of free agency, the Warriors are trying to stay in the present and cherish every minute this historically great group gets to share on the court.
That's evident with Curry so far. It's hard to put your finger on it, but he seems different -- like Peter Gibbons in "Office Space" after he visits the hypnotist. He seems carefree in the best way imaginable, which could do wonders for his already transcendent game.
So it was only fitting that after the game on Tuesday, after receiving yet another championship ring and watching yet another banner raised to the rafters -- the last in Oracle Arena before the team moves to San Francisco next season -- Curry kept things in perspective.
"I don't think I'll ever be at a point where it's just kind of a 'blah' moment when you receive a ring and see a banner and see all those trophies," Curry said. "If that ever happens, I hope somebody just slaps me in the face -- smacks some sense into me. Because this is a special opportunity we have every night to get to play basketball. Every night we get to go chase a trophy -- chase a championship. That will never get old."
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