Why Stephen Curry’s ordinary plays are still special
by Andrew Kennedy
Stephen Curry is one of the smartest players in basketball. He’s looked like a veteran ever since he entered the league in the 2009-10 season.
This year Curry has been sidelined for most of the year with injury but has since returned and had his best game yet of the season in a 101-93 win over the Portland Trailblazers last Wednesday night.
Curry had 32 points, seven assists, six rebounds and four steals in the game while going 6-of-8 from three-point land. Curry now has his averages back on pace from last year and should see an improvement as he plays more games.
Curry’s game is a lot like Steve Nash’s. He’s not the best athlete ever on the court but is quick and one of the more savvy decision-makers in the game.
Here we’ll look at two plays showing how Curry makes a couple of beautiful reads to get open for shots.
This play begins with Curry on the left wing running a pick-and-roll with David Lee.
Curry doesn’t use the screen and passes back to Lee who swings the ball around the perimeter. Curry goes to the corner to space the floor and spot-up.
When the ball gets to Monta Ellis in the right corner, the Portland defense is scrambling to rotate and Ellis reads this and penetrates into the middle of the paint. Portland is long and a good shot-blocking team so Ellis doesn’t really have a shot. Curry, instead of just standing in the corner where he is, uses Andris Biedrins as a screen on his man and moves back out to the left wing to spot-up and create a better passing lane for Ellis.
Curry receives Ellis’ pass all the way at the top of the key while his man, Raymond Felton, is still near the paint after being screened by Felton. This is such a great read by Curry and something he does all the time. A lot of players would just remain spotting up in the corner on a drive like that but Curry is so smart that he uses Biedrins as a screen without Biedrins even realizing and moves for a wide-open three.
Here is another play where Curry shows us how good he is at spacing the floor. It’s not hard for him to demand respect and create space for his teammates by spacing the floor because he is such a great shooter. It’s his ability to move at the perfect moment that makes him such a tough cover.
On this play Golden State comes down the court and posts up Ellis on the right wing inside the three-point line. After Lee passes to Ellis he moves to the other side of the floor so we have Ellis posting and Curry spotting up at the top of the key.
As Ellis backs his man down into the paint, Curry’s man, Wes Matthews, takes a jab and reach at Ellis just for a second. In doing this he takes his eye off Curry who sprints to an open area on the three-point line right at the moment he realizes Matthews is in bad defensive position.
Ellis kicks the ball out to Curry who is now all the way on the left wing after starting the play closer to the right wing, last time Matthews saw him. You can see in the photo below that when Matthews retreats back to get to Curry he ends up by the top of the key where he thought Curry would be. A lot of players would have just remained at that spot but Curry knew he could get a little more space for a three-point attempt by spacing to the left wing.
Curry had his best game this season vs. Portland and his best shooting night. When shooters are in a zone like Curry was in these two plays in the second half, they are always hustling to areas on the floor where they can get an open look. Curry is just better than most when it comes to this.
A win against Portland is a very good one for the Warriors. Golden State will have another big challenge tonight when they host the Oklahoma City Thunder.