Stephen Curry is a bad man.
Last Saturday night, with the Boston Celtics in town and the Warriors ahead by double digits, Curry reminded fans that he is not only one of the most lethal shooters in the NBA but that he is currently evolving into a Jason Bourne type figure that just takes away whatever hope opponents have in ball games.
There was a sequence early in the third quarter where the Celtics had some fight in them, having rallied from a large second quarter deficit and Curry came out and hit a long 2-point shot; and then followed that up with a semi-transition 3-point bomb from the Oracle Arena parking lot. The back-to-back jumpers didn’t necessarily completely close the door on the Celtics comeback, but it sure put a huge monkey wrench into it.
And in a nutshell, that’s been one of Curry’s best traits so far this season.
The Davidson product has been quite good this season given his tremendous ball handling skills, passing ability coupled with his shooting; but in addition he hasn’t been shy at all about pouring salt into the wounds of opposing teams by hitting a few dagger shots here and there, especially in the fourth quarters.
Indeed, Curry is currently second in the league behind Kevin Durant in total clutch scoring (clutch is defined as the last five minutes of the game with the scoring margin within five points) precisely because of his willingness to shut the door against teams.
But sometimes, having that assassin-like mentality can come with a price: low efficiency.
Much like Bourne completely botched his attempt on Wombosi in The Bourne Identity, the Warriors’ starting point guard has the occasional habit of also ruining a few offensive possessions here and there with a low percentage shot.
Curry’s basketball vice is the 3-point shot from either the wings or the top of the key; also referred to as “heat check territory” by yours truly.
Steph has his moments in games where despite the amount of time left on the shot clock, he will fire away from these spots on the floor with his defender in his mug as he looks to put the finishing touches on the concluding chapter of the game in progress.
And really, this helps us put some perspective on the reason why the sharpshooter is only converting 37.5 percent of his field goal attempts in the clutch per NBA.com’s advanced stats tool.
If we dig deeper, the picture becomes even clearer.
StatsCube tells us that Curry has attempted 40 shots in the clutch so far this season, and of those field goal attempts, 18 of them have come from above the break (all 3-point shots excluding the corners). From that specific area of the court, Curry is an abysmal 3-for-18 in the clutch. And yet, he is shooting lights out from every other spot on the floor late in games.
Again, StatsCube shares with us that he is converting 100 percent of his corner 3-pointers (one-for-one shooting), 67 percent of his shots in the paint excluding the restricted area (two-of-three shooting), 67 percent from the restricted area (two-of-three shooting) and 47 percent from mid-range (7-for-15 shooting).
Under normal circumstances, the Warriors’ lead guard is converting a phenomenal 45 percent of his shots above the break, hence it’s easy to understand why he would favor this shot in crunch time; but context and perspective are powerful tools, and perhaps Curry needs to use them in order to operate more efficiently in late game situations. Avoiding the temptation of launching a contested shot from downtown might be tough for a player possessing the Curry family shooting gene, but it may well in fact be the next step in the third year pro’s evolution as a closer.
A better closer equates to a better late game offense; which often translates into wins for good defensive ball clubs.
Just imagine what that could mean for the Golden State Warriors.
Statistical support provided by NBA.com.
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