OAKLAND – The Warriors are three games into the preseason, and it’s visible that Stephen Curry, back-to-back MVP and reigning NBA scoring champ, has been relatively passive about shooting.
He ranks third in scoring average, his 11.7 points per game behind Klay Thompson’s 19.0 and Kevin Durant’s 18.3.
Moreover, Curry has taken only 22 shots in 66 minutes – an average of one every three minutes. That’s a lower ratio than Thompson and Durant, than David West and Ian Clark, than Phil Pressey and Cameron Jones.
Reason to be concerned? Not really. Some of this, according to coach Steve Kerr, is the result of Curry navigating an offense featuring a third superior scorer in Durant.
“I think it’s mostly that, and he’s also finding his rhythm,” Kerr said Wednesday night, after the team went through an open practice before 13,500 at Oracle Arena. “He usually takes a little bit of time to get his rhythm.”
The Warriors are in the midst of a reconstruction on offense Curry, as the starting point guard, is in the middle. He’s still going to score, but probably not as much last season. He’s still going to shoot, but probably not as often as last season.
The Warriors have two new starters, center Zaza Pachulia and Durant, and Curry concedes there is a learning process. And that most of it is developing chemistry with Durant.
“You obviously know what his strengths are, and as a point guard you’ve got to be able to highlight those and do the best I can to get him in the right spots,” Curry said. “There’s a balance, because he’s obviously a playmaker too. So he’ll have the ball in his hands a little bit, initiating plays. I’ve got to use my versatility on and off the ball.
“But it will be interesting as we go deep into the preseason, when we’re playing real rotation minutes. I think it will start to look more and more normal.”
Durant’s presence explain why Kerr said last week that Curry “probably knows he’s not hitting 400 3s this year.” Curry reminded everyone that he didn’t think it was possible last year, when he set a NBA record with 402.
Though Curry didn’t rule out 400 treys, having Durant on the team makes him more sensitive to the role of the point guard. He wants to get others involved without sacrificing his ability as the premier long-range shooter in the league.
The bombs will come, though probably not as often.
“I said it all year, 300 was a stretch because I knew how hard it was to get to (286, his previous record),” Curry said. “And then I hit (300) in February and I was, like, there’s no way 400 is possible just because a lot has to go your way to make that happen.
“I get what (Kerr is) saying this year, because it was such an outlandish number even last year. But I’ll still shoot the same, and still have the same confidence. We’ll see what happens. But that’s not a goal to, by any stretch, try to beat that.”
There are no plans, Curry said, to abandon those heat-check launches beyond the arc that often come off the dribble and sometimes early in the shot clock.
“No, I’ve got to shoot those,” he said. “If I’m open and I have confidence, I’m willing to knock them down. It’s kind of what I like to do. It’s a strength of our team, to have that as a weapon. And you’ve got to take advantage of that.”
Curry’s preseason passivity on offense is related more to feeling out his new teammates than his diminished desire. He could get back to his familiar self as soon as Friday, when the Warriors face the Nuggets in Denver.