With only two days away from the start of the 2013-14 regular season, there’s a tendency to overanalyze what went on during the preseason. The Warriors went 3-4, and Stephen Curry only shot 36.4% from the floor (35.6% on three-pointers). But preseason win-loss records and field goal percentages don’t matter. This preseason was far more successful for Curry than last year’s, because this time he enters the season injury-free.
Curry tweaked his surgically repaired right ankle against Portland last October, and the Warriors kept him out of the second half of that game as well as the last two preseason games as a precaution. At the time, the situation appeared all too familiar. Same old ankle, same old Warriors. But Curry came back and ended up playing in 90 games last season, including the playoffs.
Golden State faces a challenge that’s a lot more difficult than it might sound: making the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since the 1990-91 and 1991-92 seasons. Even with only seven of the team’s first 18 games are at home, a healthy Curry bodes well for the team’s chances of getting off to a fast start.
“It helps for sure not having any nagging injuries. Feeling 100% so, hopefully I can capitalize on that,” Curry said. “I had a great summer to get myself ready, strength-wise in the ankles. It’s feeling good pretty much through the whole preseason. No incidences then, so feeling pretty good.”
Everyone knows about the expectations faced both by the team and Curry, who was featured on the cover in the West Coast region’s edition of Sports Illustrated’s NBA preview. ESPN recently slotted Curry at No. 6 in their player rankings, in between Russell Westbrook and Dwight Howard.
After struggling to find cohesion with Monta Ellis in his first three seasons, and David Lee making the All-Star team last year while Curry got left off, there’s no confusion anymore. The team is Curry’s, and in order to take full advantage of his top skills — shooting, creativity and court vision — the team will be at its best when pushing the pace.
“I feel like we have the talent … and the personnel to really utilize our speed and that first attack on the offensive end,” said Curry.
While the Warriors have a true center and enough size to succeed while plodding if that’s what it takes, Curry sounded like a man who hopes to see Lee and perhaps even Andrew Bogut lead the break from time to time.
“If we get stops and even allow our bigs to push it up in transition — we’d like our guards to have it, but when our bigs get it and push it in transition it’s also another threat when you have everybody run the wings and make plays,” Curry said. “We have to be a fast-paced team to get done what we feel like we should.”
Before the All-Star break, Curry averaged a respectable 21.0 points and 6.6 assists per game while shooting 43.4% from the field (44.7% from three). After the break: 26.0 ppg, 7.4 apg, 47.6 FG%, 46.1 3P%. In reference to Curry’s second half performance, a reporter asked, “Was that more you, or you being hot?”
“Hot for a long time,” said Curry with a hint of the confidence he displays on the court fairly regularly but rarely during interviews. “I never put statistical pressure on myself. Any kind of goals that I want to get, whatever number points per game scorer. That’s not it. I just try to be aggressive, take shots I think I can make, make plays I think I can make as well, and try to be one of the best players on the court every single night. That’s something that I try to hang my hat on. Hopefully that means winning and good things will happen.”
Speaking of hot, I shot this little video after practice of Curry making 10 threes in a row.