For anyone who wondered whether 33-year-old Stephen Curry would return to form after missing most of the 2019-20 NBA season with a broken hand, the Warriors’ point guard has repeatedly proved the answer to be a resounding “yes.” The NBA’s scoring leader, averaging 31.4 points per game, has been on a red-hot streak for the better part of the past month. And despite the Warriors’ middling record, he has them well-positioned to make a run in the NBA’s play-in tournament.
Curry had another top-tier performance Monday against the Pelicans, during which he scored 41 points on 53.8 percent shooting from the field. It marked his ninth game of the season in which he had scored at least 40 points and upped his scoring average since April began to 37.1 points per game. After the game against the Pelicans, Curry’s teammates expressed disbelief at the amazing effort of their star player.
“Anytime you step on the floor with Steph Curry, there’s an advantage there,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said, per ESPN’s Nick Friedell. “So, teams are terrified of him — and everywhere he runs on the floor, with or without the ball, teams are terrified. That type of gravity, he pulls a lot of weight.
“I wouldn’t want to see a team with Steph Curry on it. We all know what he’s capable of. The guy can take over a game and make it hard for any team in the NBA on any given night.”
Green certainly has a point, and on nights when Curry has scored 40-plus points, the Warriors hold a 7-2 record. On the two nights when the Warriors didn’t win in those scenarios, it took a superhuman effort from Jayson Tatum (44 points) and a 42-point game from Luka Doncic for Golden State to lose. In essence, if Curry goes over 40, the Warriors are likely to win. If they don’t, it’s probably because another superstar did just enough to put their team over the top (the losses were by a combined six points).
Indeed, Curry’s scoring can be a knock-out punch, and that’s why one member of the Warriors compared Curry to legendary boxer Mike Tyson participating in a street fight.
“If you get into a street fight and you’ve got Mike Tyson standing on the side of you, how you gonna feel?” Warriors forward Juan Toscano-Anderson said. “That’s the best analogy I can give you. He’s just — he’s different, man. So, I know if I get into a pickle, I’m looking for him; he’s going to make something happen more often than not. The defense, he’s just a magnet; the defense is just gravitating towards him, so it’s opening up a lot of things.”
It’s clear that Curry’s impact on the Warriors has been a massive one. In eight games without him this year, the Warriors are 1-7. They were just 14-46 last season in the 60 games that Curry missed, so their combined winning percentage without him is .221. Over a full season without Curry, that would be worse than any NBA team, just as their .231 winning percentage was the worst during the 2019-20 season.
What Curry has done this year has been nothing short of remarkable. He has taken the Warriors from the league’s basement to the Western Conference’s eighth seed with a 33-32 record. He has virtually had to carry the team with Klay Thompson and No. 2 overall pick James Wiseman out. He deserves a lot of credit for where the team stands, even if it is in the middle of the pack.
If Curry stays hot during the NBA’s play-in tournament, he could pull the Warriors through to the first round of the NBA playoffs. Whichever potential opponent they face will have to focus on slowing down Curry.
But as we’ve seen this season, that will be no easy task.