Steph Curry's scary preseason moment should give Warriors cause for pause

Monte Poole
·4 min read

Steph's scary preseason moment should make Warriors pause originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Steve Kerr, as coach of the Warriors, wouldn’t consider it. Bob Myers, the general manager, surely wishes it were a realistic option. Joe Lacob, the CEO responsible for the bottom line, probably sees it in his dreams.

Stephen Curry, preseason spectator. A move the Warriors can swipe from the NFL quarterback preseason protection program.

He’d be on the bench in sweats, safe from the stray elbows of fringe players getting uber-aggressive in hopes of making a name and maybe winning a job. Safe from being undercut while airborne. Safe from those random damp spots on the floor and the wandering feet of defenders and even teammates.

Curry, 32, wouldn’t like it, at all, but it’s not as if he needs these glorified scrimmages. His conditioning ranges from excellent to elite. His shot is a gift that could scorch the league for another 10 years and endure on playgrounds for another 40.

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Practices, sure. Intra-squad scrimmages, probably. Work with teammates on chemistry and timing.Games against actual opponents? No. It’s one way for the Warriors to protect the most valuable member of the franchise and the most spellbinding attraction in the NBA.

Curry showed Thursday night in the preseason finale, a 113-105 win over the Kings in Sacramento, that he’s ready for games that matter. He scored 29 points in 29 minutes, adding six rebounds and three dimes. Knowing the third quarter would be his last, he kicked into overdrive, playing all 12 minutes, scoring 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting, including 3-of-4 from deep.

He also hit the deck several times, including once that had hearts throughout Dub Nation skipping a beat.

With 1:49 remaining in the first quarter, Curry dribbled into the paint and his right foot landed atop the moving left foot of 7-foot Kings center Hassan Whiteside. As Curry’s right foot skidded off Whiteside’s shoe, his trail knee (left) twisted, and his left foot dragged. He regained balance without losing the ball and continued toward the hoop, where he was clobbered by Whiteside and landed belly-first on the floor.

It was the kind of awkward contortion that can result in a hyperextended knee or sprained ankle. Curry played on, showing no ill effect. The Warriors’ season exhaled.

But a scary moment like that, where Curry barely avoids disaster, causes pause for thought. He plays because it’s the best way to get in “game shape.” He played 21 minutes in the preseason opener last Saturday, 28 minutes on Tuesday in Sacramento and 29 on Thursday.

“He’s an anomaly,” Kelly Oubre Jr. said. “There's nobody else in the game of basketball right now like that ... he shoots the ball and you automatically just figure it’s going in. When he misses, you’re kind of surprised. He’s just, he's a different talent.”

Keeping the most valuable investments on the sideline until the games matter is a trend that swept through the NFL decades ago, most notably after Cincinnati Bengals running back Ki-Jana Carter, the first overall pick in the 1995 draft, tore his ACL in the preseason opener. He missed his entire rookie season, played four-plus years and gained a total 1,114 yards in his career.

More recently, Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson tore his ACL in a 2015 preseason game and never recovered.

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Curry is the most watchable Warrior of all time. For nine years, no one has been more crucial to the team’s best chance of succeeding.

Kerr, Myers and Lacob would love to save Curry for the regular season and, in their vision, the postseason.

They’d love to have him sit and be confident he’ll be ready for the regular season. They know he would be, and that he’d probably go out and hang 35 on opening night. They also believe that developing a team traditionally means building up individual stamina and team camaraderie, particularly with so many new faces on the roster.

So, Curry was on the court for all three preseason games. Don’t assume, upon reflection and out of an abundance of caution, that will be the case every preseason for the rest of his career.

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