Give Steph Curry the damn ball: The Warriors benefit with more on-ball action
For the Golden State Warriors, the phrase “Steph better” is more than just a catchy hashtag. It’s their truth.
As great as Stephen Curry is off the ball, he and the Warriors’ offense is even better with the ball in his hands. However, Warriors coach Steve Kerr doesn’t see it this way.
The first order of business for opposing defenses is keeping the ball out of Curry’s hands and running him off of the three point line. Ironically, Kerr would rather play into opposing defenses’ plans and take the ball out of the two time MVP’s hands. What’s even more questionable is that Kerr would elect to keep Curry off the ball for get this- posts ups for role players that can’t shoot because he likes the aesthetics.
Steve Kerr on playing Steph Curry off the ball more when he's with the second unit: "With this year's team, we feel pretty strongly that we have to stagger (Curry and Durant). … Steph is perfectly comfortable playing off the ball. Shaun can post up. I like the look of it."
— Connor Letourneau (@Con_Chron) January 4, 2019
Again, Kerr believes that his refusal to play one of the top three players in the league at his natural position because one of the reserves could hit a post up jumper off of the occasional mismatch is the move. But the problem with that is the NBA is now a pace and space, three-point shooting league. In Curry, the Warriors have the third all-time leader in threes made. His range stretches defenses until they snap. He commands all the attention which opens up opportunities for others.
When you run high ball screens with Steph Curry, good things happen pic.twitter.com/v1XUiFHRiQ
— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) January 6, 2019
At four seconds in the clip, look at how open Draymond Green was when he slipped the screen. That would have been an easy layup for him but he passed it to a cutting Curry at the basket.
Basically Stephen Curry had the ball in his hands all game, in the most high pressure moments, delivered clutch buckets including the game winner and didn’t turn it over ONCE!! ???? https://t.co/vCn03YjCSj
— Rosalyn Gold-Onwude (@ROSGO21) January 14, 2019
Against Dallas, a ball dominant Curry kept them in the game when he and Kevin Durant were the only ones scoring. It was also Curry that was the closer, scoring the Warriors final seven points on the way to a well fought victory against a tough Mavericks team.
Numbers Don’t Lie
In the B’Ball Index’s recent installment of player’s grades, Curry is in the 91st percentile in One on One and in the 90th percentile in playmaking. Despite not having many opportunities to go ISO, Curry can still shake defenders and finish at the basket when he does not feel like “settling” for threes.
Not to mention, the Warriors lead the league in points off of cutting at 480 points off of 390 possessions. The Warriors’ offense have been described as chaotic many times during this run. Who’s in the center of the chaos? Who’s responsible for the floor stretching and 31 assist per night, ball moving chaos? It’s Curry. When Steph STEPH’s and eats, the whole team eats.
The Need For Balance
While I’m advocating for Curry to have the ball in his hands as a primary playmaker, I am not advocating the total abandonment of having him off the ball. In fact, I understand why Kerr prefers having Curry off the ball in theory.
Obviously, defenders would send double teams at Curry as soon as he brings the ball up court. Defenders will run him off the line and get physical. However, Curry moves so well without the ball that he puts up numbers anyway. So, it’s understandable why Kerr wants him off the ball.
But what was baffling was Kerr wanting Curry off the ball with a poor scoring second unit. Playing with staggered minutes and pacing the second unit was the idea environment for more on ball action with Curry. But for whatever reason, Kerr thought it would be best to work through Livingston.
Am I suggesting that Kerr should run a bunch of pick and rolls? Absolutely not. What would help is balance. Mix up the possessions some. Feature Curry on the ball some plays and then play him off the ball to keep the defenses guessing. Common sense.
But sometimes, common sense isn’t all that common.
Steve Kerr said Kevin Durant changed up a couple plays in the huddle late tonight, suggested to flip spots with Steph Curry so Steph could get the ball pic.twitter.com/ms2xdHnOx1
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) January 14, 2019
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