Behind Stephen Curry’s MVP-like start with the Warriors

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The Golden State Warriors lost possession in their first season test against the rival Sacramento Kings and Stephen Curry had seen enough. It was October. 27, and fans at Golden 1 Center watched as the Warriors cut a 20-6 fourth-quarter lead — 15 points just three minutes earlier — to five points with 45 seconds left.

as Andrew Wiggins Cutting to the basket, drawing two defenders toward him, Curry drove to the top of the 3-point line as the two Kings closed in unsuccessfully.

Night at night.

A 41-point performance in the second game of the season — a 122-114 win for the Warriors — set the tone for a red-hot start, even by Steph’s standards.

Curry is averaging 30.9 points per game shooting 55.1% from the field, 46.5% from 3 and 94.4% from the free throw line. According to ESPN Stats & Data Research, he is the only player in NBA history to average at least 30 through the first eight games of a season at age 35 or older.

It’s also the third time Curry has averaged 30 points through his first eight games of a season on a 50-45-90 shooting split — something no other NBA player has done.

Curry has outright led the Warriors in scoring through eight games this season, the longest streak in NBA history by a player age 35 or older to start a season.

Warriors guard, “He’s one of the hardest workers to play the game.” Clay Thompson Curry’s hot start told ESPN. “The sky’s the limit. He can change the description of what it’s like to be elite until you’re 40. LeBron [James] Doing the same and Steph is following suit.”

Curry has already had several shocking moments this season: his “Kevin McCallister from Home Alone” celebration after his big game in Sacramento; Dillon Brooks in Houston, and his last-second game-winner (albeit controversial) in Oklahoma City.

But unlike last season, the Warriors aren’t relying on Curry’s theatrics to get the offense going.

Curry got off to a hot start last season before suffering a shoulder injury in December. In his first 26 games, Curry averaged 30.0 points on a 50-43-92 shooting split, ranking in the top five in total points with 131 3-pointers, 26 more than any other. The Warriors desperately needed Curry to dominate the game to win.

Golden State would have sunk had he sat. From the start of the 2022-23 season until Curry’s injury in December, the Warriors had a 118.9 offensive efficiency rating with him on the floor, which dropped to 99.9 when he was off the court. The last team to have an offensive efficiency below 100.0 points per 100 possessions over an entire season was the 2015-16 Philadelphia 76ers, who went 10-72.

Curry’s minutes were high. His workload was high.

The team’s improved defense this season has ensured that the Warriors can stay in the game if Curry sits. In 130 minutes without Curry on the floor, the Warriors outscored their opponents by 11.5 points per 100 possessions. They are giving up just 98.2 points per 100 possessions while Curry is on the bench.

“It helps you be a better team because you can endure [opponent’s] strength,” Curry told ESPN. “It gives everybody confidence [I] No need for miracles, we can just hoop and win. Which, statistics and all that aside, is what you’re thinking.”

Another factor is the lack of turnover, offseason acquisitions and an effort led by a future Hall of Famer Chris Paul. When Curry is on the bench, the Warriors have a top-5 turnover percentage in the league. And according to Second Spectrum, the Warriors have outscored their opponents by more than 13 points per 100 possessions with Paul on the floor and Curry off.

“Our bench unit is a lot better than our starting unit right now, in terms of plus-minus, and Chris is a big reason,” Curry said. “The lead is being maintained or constructed, and they’ve even come back a few times and gotten us back on it.”

And the only thing that surprised Curry so far this season was the moment after he hit a 3-pointer against Brooks in Houston and added “Kevin McAllister” to his long list of celebrations that included his signature shimmy shake and famous night-night.

“You surprised yourself — not this move [I] Putting together but those three 3s above that I’ve already hit at that point,” Curry said. Joy and accomplishment. “There’s nothing choreographed, as awkward and hilarious.

Whether on or off the court, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said there are no words to describe Curry’s greatness. Kerr compared Curry to his former Chicago Bulls teammate Michael Jordan and said watching Curry pour in points was akin to a religious experience.

“It’s amazing to see him. He looks better than ever at 35,” Kerr said. “He works every summer and keeps looking for ways to get better. … One of the reasons he’s Steph Curry.”

“You’re sitting back and admiring it,” the Warriors forward said. Draymond Green told ESPN. “We had it in Houston and New Orleans [last week] And he took charge of these two games.”

And it all leads to arguments — early in the season — that Curry could make a strong push to win his third MVP, becoming the oldest player ever to receive the award.

“Obviously, he could be the MVP,” Green said. “100%.”

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