Steph Curry is on fire.
In the five games he’s played in April, he’s averaging 36.8 points per game on 54 percent shooting.
As I said, en fuego.
And I think he’s about to reach a new level.
The end of the Warriors’ season was going to be a proving ground for rookie center James Wiseman. Golden State was playing the 20-year-old more and running more pick-and-roll sets to better facilitate his skillsets on the offensive side.
Yes, it was a tough break for the rookie and the team that Wiseman will miss the rest of the season with a torn meniscus. But it also liberates Curry to play their best basketball for the final 19 games, and, in turn, the Warriors.
Because if Curry was already thriving, what happens when he’s playing free?
For the final month of the season, there’s no need for the Warriors to worry about the future, shoehorning Wiseman into motion sets or changing the offense to facilitate the kid, not the once-in-a-lifetime talent at the peak of his powers.
The inherent conflict that has been present on Warriors coach Steve Kerr’s face and on the floor, as well, this season is gone.
It feels like piling on the kid, but it’s important to note that the Warriors’ five-man starting lineup with Wiseman was the worst offensive unit in the NBA that played 150 or more minutes per season (96.9 points per 100 minutes played).
Yes, a lineup with Curry couldn’t score. I didn’t think such a thing was possible until we all had to watch nearly 250 minutes of it this season.
Now, remove Wiseman from the equation, and simply replace him with the offensively clumsy Kevon Looney and the Warriors are a team that not only scores better — 16.7 points per 100 possessions better — but it plays better defense, on average, too.
Play Draymond Green at center, as the Warriors will have to do more often for the final month, as the Warriors only have one true big on their roster, and the offense improves even more.
In the 994 minutes Curry has played without Wiseman on the floor this year, the Warriors average 1.2 points per possession. The best offense in the NBA this season, the Clippers, average 1.17 points per possession.
If the Warriors can regain even a modicum of the defensive prowess they showed mid-season, this can be a good team.
Perhaps even a team that can make it out of the play-in tournament and make some waves in the first round of the playoffs. (Anything beyond that is greedy.)
As for Curry, he enters Monday’s game one point per game behind Bradley Beal for the NBA’s scoring title.
Don’t be shocked if, at the end of this season, he wins it.
Not bad for a lost season.
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Author: Dieter Kurtenbach
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