LOADING ...

Without Steph Curry, The Warriors Are Mortal

Patrick Redford Nov 20, 2018. 14 comments

One week ago, the Golden State Warriors were 11-2, Steph Curry was the MVP favorite , and everyone was laughing at the Rockets. Five games later, the Warriors are 12-6, deep-seated personality differences have surfaced , and Curry is out until after Thanksgiving. All is not well, and after an 0-3 stretch through Texas last weekend, one thing has become abundantly clear: Steph Curry is the most important player on the Warriors.

Steve Kerr has said in the past that Kevin Durant, not Curry, is the second-best player in the NBA behind LeBron James. Setting aside any possible political motivations Kerr could have for stroking Durant’s spiderweb-fragile ego, Durant is obviously good as hell. His body is shaped such that he never really has to take a contested shot, and the zeal with which he’s thrown himself into becoming a tremendous defender has been admirable. But he’s still not the Warriors’ most important player. The statistical case is a simple one:

In the two-plus seasons since Durant linked up with the Warriors, the team is 21-20 when Durant has played and Curry has not. When Durant sits and Curry doesn’t, the team is 25-9. This season, Golden State is +118 in Curry’s 399 minutes, and -8 in the 470 minutes he’s sat out. In the six games he’s missed, the Warriors make five fewer threes per game and dish out six fewer assists per game. Klay Thompson is 15-for-55 from three without Curry, and Durant is 3-for-21 from the same distance over the same period.

The numbers bear out what the eye test plainly shows: the Warriors just don’t pass as much or as effectively without Curry, thus taking worse shots and making them less often. Durant is a supremely gifted scorer, but he too often reverts to late-OKC-era isolation ball when he’s given the reins to the offense. It’s not that Durant is unfit to lead the Warriors or that he’s any less talented than Curry; rather, Curry’s penetration, court vision, and gravity open up the court for his teammates more effectively than any other player in basketball. Not only can he pop it from the half-court logo when he wants, he breaks the fabric of the game with his drives and tees up all manner of open shots for his teammates.

The Warriors’ sudden turn to a clumpy, ineffective offense over their last three games can also be chalked up in part to Draymond Green’s absence with a toe injury, since Green is also a skilled playmaker. Durant told reporters after the Spurs loss that the Warriors just aren’t going to be able to play their trademark style with the players they have right now:

“I mean … we’re just trying to get good looks,” Durant explained. “I know Warriors basketball is 5, 6, 7 passes in a possession, but we’re not going to get that at this point. We throw it five or six times and it’s going to end up in a guy’s hands who is trying to give it back to somebody else.

Steve Kerr also talked about the team’s current predicament as a return back to reality after years of Steph-driven absurdity:

“I’ve had a dream run for four and a half years. We’ve had such a charmed existence the last four seasons. This is the toughest stretch we’ve been in.

“This is the real NBA. We haven’t been in the real NBA the last few years. We’ve been in this dream. And so now we’re faced real adversity and we got to get out of it ourselves.”

Wow, perhaps only one man can save the Warriors’ season.

14 Comments

Other Patrick Redford's posts

Sergiño Dest Announces He Will Play For USMNT Sergiño Dest Announces He Will Play For USMNT

The USMNT is currently looking like wet slop , Gregg Berhalter seems like a bad coach, and, until last weekend , Christian Pulisic was not earning as much playing time as he wanted over at Chelsea. It has been a bad month all told, especially with the future of the program’s best dual national suddenly up for grabs. Sergiño...

Mizzou Athletics Tweet Celebrating Its Student-Athletes' Diversity Goes Horribly Wrong Mizzou Athletics Tweet Celebrating Its Student-Athletes' Diversity Goes Horribly Wrong

On Wednesday, the University of Missouri’s athletic department contributed its part to the NCAA’s inclusion week (which runs for less than an actual week, naturally), and boy was it crummy. Photos of several of their athletes explaining why they are “more than a student athlete.” The messages displayed in front of the beaming athletes were markedly different between black...

Novelist Kelsey McKinney: The patrickredford.kinja.com Interview Novelist Kelsey McKinney: The patrickredford.kinja.com Interview

Kelsey McKinney, a features writer at our sister site Deadspin, announced today that her debut novel, God Spare The Girls, will be published at some point in the future by The Book Group. Kelsey, a fellow medium , is a friend to patrickredford.kinja.com, and she was gracious enough to grant patrickredford.kinja.com an exclusive first interview with the soon-to-be world...

Patrick Beverley Mercilessly Taunts Warriors Fans After Clippers Ruin New Arena's Opening Night Patrick Beverley Mercilessly Taunts Warriors Fans After Clippers Ruin New Arena's Opening Night

Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers opened up the Warriors’ shiny new San Francisco arena by hanging 141 points on the hapless Dubs. That’s the most in almost a decade. Golden State looked terribly thin, with D’Angelo Russell and Draymond Green both posting plus-minus lines of -35 and Green admitting that “we fucking sucked.” The Clippers, meanwhile, needed just 21...

Suggested posts

Ja Morant Scores 30, Stuffs Kyrie Irving, Will Be A Lot Of Fun On The Grizzlies Ja Morant Scores 30, Stuffs Kyrie Irving, Will Be A Lot Of Fun On The Grizzlies

Big fat dunks, pinpoint dimes, and the gumption to go at Kyrie Irving in a scoring duel and win? Ja Morant delivered on all those fronts Sunday as the Memphis Grizzlies took out the Brooklyn Nets, 134-133. Based on Morant’s 30-point, nine-assist explosion, the No. 2 pick out of Murray State intends to remain one of the most telegenic...

Someone Should Put The Warriors In Rice Someone Should Put The Warriors In Rice

After the Clippers beat the brakes off the Warriors on Friday, coach Steve Kerr offered the following foreboding quote to reporters about what his team should expect for the remainder of the season:“This is not a one-off, this is the reality,” Kerr said. “There’s going to be nights like this this year. You’ve got to play through it, you’ve...

Bow Down Before The Mighty Devin Booker And His Unstoppable Phoenix Suns Bow Down Before The Mighty Devin Booker And His Unstoppable Phoenix Suns

I don’t want to alarm you, but you should begin to prepare for a world where the Phoenix Suns are NBA champions. It’s the only logical conclusion one could come to after one of the league’s sorriest franchises beat the Clippers on Saturday, 130-122, without their starting center (Deandre Ayton) or point guard (Ricky Rubio), and on the second...

Even Knicks Fans Already Love Tacko Fall Even Knicks Fans Already Love Tacko Fall

The “We Want Tacos” chant is, oddly, not even all that uncommon at basketball games, given the wide variety of food promotions that exist for when home teams hit certain accomplishments. But at Madison Square Garden, a variation on this chant—the singular form—emerged from a Knicks blowout loss on Saturday night. With four minutes to go and the home...

Patrick Beverley Mercilessly Taunts Warriors Fans After Clippers Ruin New Arena's Opening Night Patrick Beverley Mercilessly Taunts Warriors Fans After Clippers Ruin New Arena's Opening Night

Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers opened up the Warriors’ shiny new San Francisco arena by hanging 141 points on the hapless Dubs. That’s the most in almost a decade. Golden State looked terribly thin, with D’Angelo Russell and Draymond Green both posting plus-minus lines of -35 and Green admitting that “we fucking sucked.” The Clippers, meanwhile, needed just 21...

Adam Silver Says Issues Between U.S. And China Have "Absolutely Nothing To Do With The NBA" Adam Silver Says Issues Between U.S. And China Have "Absolutely Nothing To Do With The NBA"

At the beginning of Inside the NBA on Thursday, Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley sat with commissioner Adam Silver just a couple days after the crew tackled the league’s China debacle for the first time this season. As a quick note for context about this segment’s somber tone and pacing, the crew spent the first couple minutes...

Giannis Antetokounmpo Denies Giving Juicy Quote To Harvard Business School About Possibly Leaving Bucks Giannis Antetokounmpo Denies Giving Juicy Quote To Harvard Business School About Possibly Leaving Bucks

Because he’s the reigning MVP, because he plays in Milwaukee, and because the 2019 summer was defined by NBA stars switching teams—one of whom previously and publicly talked about how he wanted to stay—Giannis Antetokounmpo will face intense scrutiny over his forthcoming free agency decision in 2021 until he signs what will surely be the largest contract in the...

A Timely Preview Of The 2019–20 NBA Season, Which Will Begin Any Day Now A Timely Preview Of The 2019–20 NBA Season, Which Will Begin Any Day Now

Oh. Hello, casual basketball fan. I did not see you there, looking the other way, rightly paying attention to the 2019 World Series instead of the ragged, sloppy opening games of the NBA’s very long and low-key regular season, which I am now hearing actually happened two days ago. Ah. Hm. That can’t be right.Listen, whenever the hell it actually...

Good Luck Getting Through The Sixers' Forest Of Arms Good Luck Getting Through The Sixers' Forest Of Arms

Sixers rookie Matisse Thybulle had three points, one rebound, and one assist in 22 minutes during his NBA debut Wednesday night, and yet he received a glowing postgame interview on the arena floor after his team beat the Celtics on opening night. Why? Because he threw sand in the gears of his opponents’ offense whenever he was on the...

Tacko Fall Is In Concussion Protocol Because He Bonked His Head On The Ceiling Tacko Fall Is In Concussion Protocol Because He Bonked His Head On The Ceiling

Tacko Fall, the 7-foot-5 Celtics rookie and current tallest NBA player, is a delight . Unfortunately, Fall was not healthy for Wednesday’s season opener due to a low ceiling he encountered on Oct. 18.Here’s how the big man described his run-in to MassLive:Before the Boston Celtics shoot around at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Fall explained to MassLive...

Language