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Why Steph's shooting slump shouldn't worry Warriors, fans originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Like a star being snatched of his powers, a la Charles Barkley or Muggsy Bogues in "Space Jam," Steph Curry fell ice cold in the Warriors' 115-108 win over the Miami Heat on Monday night at Chase Center.
Curry scored just nine points while shooting 3-for-17 from the field and made only one of his 10 3-point attempts. This was an off-night for Curry, to say the least, but it resulted in another Warriors win thanks to Jordan Poole, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green and others. Everyone is afforded a tough night shooting the ball, even Steph.
"He's obviously the greatest shooter of all time, but it happens," Steve Kerr said to reporters after the win. "I've been around some of the great players of all time in my life, in my blessed basketball existence and I've seen it with everybody.
"Every great player has tough nights, it's just part of it."
Curry's nine points against the Heat weren't just his season-low, they were his lowest since he scored nine points before fracturing his wrist against the Phoenix Suns in just the fourth game of the 2019-20 season. Before then, he hadn't scored in single digits since doing so in the 2018-19 season, when he did so on back-to-back nights in April of 2019.
His shooting has slipped for more than just one night now. In fact, Curry's in the midst of the worst 15-game shooting stretch of his career. Over his last 15 games, Curry is shooting just 37.9 percent from the field. His previous worst 15-game stretch had him shooting 40.2 percent.
And it doesn't matter.
Curry is of course the greatest shooter the game has ever seen. That remains true, even when he's missing shots. For as dumb as that might sound, it's true in the sense that the gravity he creates for opposing defenses creates opportunities for others, whether he's hot or cold. Teams know that at any given moment, Curry can catch fire.
He likely will soon, too.
Even though he hasn't shot the ball like he usually does, the Warriors have been just fine and Curry has found other ways to impact winning. The Warriors have gone 11-4 over Curry's cold streak from the floor. He has finished with a negative plus-minus only three times over that stretch, and the Warriors' offensive rating still is 113.2 with Curry on the floor in those 15 games compared to just 102 with him off the floor.
Curry had a rare performance where he had more assists (10), than his nine points against Miami. The Warriors had 39 assists Monday night, which is even more impressive with Curry making only three shots. How does that happen? Again, it all starts with the two-time MVP.
"In order to get a high assist total, you need the first domino to fall, and Steph is always drawing two," Kerr said. "Once you get two defenders on the ball and it's four on three on the backside, then it's pretty easy from there. It's just move the ball and keep moving until somebody is open.
"Steph is the key in terms of getting the defense to react and then everybody does a great job from there."
Example No. "Too-High-To-Count" that Steph is the system.
Another reason to not be worried about Curry's shooting is the shots that he's making and missing. The offense still is working, creating open shots for Steph -- they're just not falling.
Curry is shooting 39.05 percent on contested 3-pointers this season, compared to 40.98 percent from last season. He has shot better on contested 3s this season than he did in the 2016-17 season and the 2018-19 season, and is just 0.26 percent below what he shot in the 2017-18 season.
The difference is, Curry is missing on shots deemed as "open" 3-pointers.
If you're wondering why Steph can't seem to hit 3s like he used too, the left is what he's shooting on contested 3s (about in line with 16-17 through last year) and the right is what he's shooting on open 3s: down ~ 4% from all other years. So yeah, he should be fine pic.twitter.com/E0YXgdOgz3
— Krishna Narsu (@knarsu3) January 4, 2022
How much longer will that last? Ask around the league, and you'll be sure to hear a handful of the same answers: Not much longer.
The return of Klay Thompson should only open things up even more for Curry. That's a terrifying thought for the rest of the NBA, and a dream for the Warriors -- especially as Poole continues to grow into a go-to scorer.
While his shooting stroke has been on ice for a short period, Curry has continued to be a better defender this season and a winning player. His 103 Basketball-Reference defensive rating is tied for the second-best of his career, his 99.2 defensive rating per NBA.com is the fifth-best in basketball and he still leads the league in total 3-pointers made with 179.
The Warriors have won games with him burning down the nets, and with him laying bricks. That's a testament to the Warriors' depth, but even more so, just how much Steph changes the game by merely putting on his jersey and stepping onto the floor.
Just imagine when he starts shooting like, well, himself.