A new year means new opportunities. A chance to start fresh. But Stephen Curry won’t be needing a fresh start as he’s going to be looking to pick up right where he left off last season.
The future first ballot Hall of Famer is coming off a remarkable 2020-21 campaign in which he was the NBA’s scoring leader and he should be as focused as ever after signing a four year, $215 million extension in August.
New Roster Additions
Last year’s Warriors roster was possibly the weakest Curry has played with in nearly a decade, and with new additions looking to make an impact, it’s reasonable to assume we may see a slight downtick in Curry’s numbers. But having a little less weight on Curry’s shoulders isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Otto Porter Jr is looking more and more like one of the better “3 and D” players in the league again, and he’ll likely be an integral part of the Warriors’ success this season. It appears Nemanja Bjelcia, a proven floor spacer and underrated passer will play a role off the bench this season. Klay Thompson will be reintegrated into the offense when he returns. Lottery picks Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga will be looking to prove themselves, if granted opportunities in the rotation at some point during the season.
The biggest difference from last season to this season I think will be the number of shots Curry gets. He averaged a career-high 21.7 shots per game last season and with the Warriors having more firepower this season I think we will likely see that number drop slightly, into the 18-19 range.
Nonetheless, Curry is the engine that makes the Warriors go, and the Warriors can only go as far as he can lead them.
Assist Numbers on the Rise?
His scoring may go down but with the Warriors having more weapons on the offensive end this year I think we’ll see Curry’s assist numbers go up a little from last season when he averaged 5.8 assists per game, which was the 2nd lowest of his career.
They’ve got a lot of good spot shooters and none of them are afraid to let it fly. I think we’ll see Steph’s assist numbers sit right around seven per game this season.
New-ish Backcourt Mate
Jordan Poole has been on the roster for over two seasons now so he’s technically not “new,” but during that time he’s started just 21 games and he even spent a portion of last season in the G-League bubble before having a bit of a coming out party later in the season.
He and Curry haven’t exactly shared a lot of time on the court together and while I don’t anticipate either of them struggling next to each other, there could be an adjustment period early on as they learn more about each other’s play styles.
Poole will help lighten the load for Curry this season and that’s a good thing. As phenomenal as Curry is, it’s tough to carry a team the way he did last season and Poole will only help keep Curry fresh for a full 82 game season.
Poole has been scorching hot during preseason play; the 3rd year guard is averaging over 23 points per game in just 22 minutes a game! It’s preseason, I know I know, but I think Poole is in store for a breakout season which will contribute to Curry scoring a little bit less.
Last February, Steve Kerr in response to a question about Curry’s minutes, infamously said, “For me, for our organization, we’re not throwing Steph out there for 40 minutes to chase wins. We got another game tomorrow. We want Steph to be playing at a high level for many years so we’re gonna stay very disciplined and try to keep him at that 34-35-minute mark.”
Kerr would go on to clarify that he didn’t believe the Warriors team at the time was championship level but that they could grow back into a championship level team in the years to come. And for now at least, that time seems to have arrived.
This year, Kerr says he’s going to have a different approach.
With a veteran led group, the Warriors believe they have what it takes to compete for a championship which could mean more minutes for Curry this season. Curry averaged 34.2 minutes a game last season and while I don’t think Curry will lead the league in minutes, Kerr may be hinting at Curry getting even more minutes this season.
I had speculated before that Curry’s minutes would actually go down, but as I’m attempting to read between the lines here, it wouldn’t shock me to see Kerr increase his minutes and in turn hold Curry out for a few extra “load management” nights to balance it out.
More Accolades to Come?
Assuming we get another healthy season from the veteran guard, he is assuredly going to have his eighth all-star appearance and another All-NBA selection is on the horizon as well. Not only that, but he’s always a threat to be in the MVP conversation and unlike last season, I think the Warriors will win enough games for him really garner serious consideration. And for you gamblers out there, most Sportsbooks have Curry somewhere around the +800 mark and that’s probably one of the better values out there for that award.
But the ultimate goal is obviously a championship and if Curry continues to play at the level we’ve all become accustomed to, the Warriors will indeed have a fighting chance.
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