Steph Curry’s outstanding play is marred by the Warriors’ poor play

Stephen Curry is a losing player. At least, that’s what advanced analytics suggest.

According to, the Golden State Warriors have been outscored by 5.6 more points per 100 possessions with Curry on the floor this season than with him off it. This statistical anomaly makes little sense — that is, until one sees the four teammates behind him in differential: Kevon Looney (minus-5.8), Klay Thompson (minus-5.8), Draymond Green (minus-8.6) and Andrew Wiggins (minus-16.4).

In other words, the Warriors’ once vaunted starting lineup has sunken to such depths that it’s blemishing Curry’s otherwise spotless resume. The irony is that general manager Mike Dunleavy went all-in on the present last offseason to maximize what’s left of Curry’s peak years. With the Warriors now at risk of squandering another MVP-level season from Curry, Dunleavy might feel some urgency.

After their so-called “two-timeline plan” expired last season with the deadline trade of center James Wiseman, the Warriors embraced a much simpler approach: win now — or else. Few faulted Dunleavy for loading up on elder statesmen this past summer. In the wake of a second-round playoff exit against the Lakers rife with turnovers and silly fouls, the Warriors needed to get wiser.

But even with future Hall of Famer Chris Paul occupying Jordan Poole’s old sixth-man role this season, Golden State has stumbled to a 9-11 start. Turnovers and fouls remain an issue. With big-name players underperforming more than a quarter of the way through the season, head coach Steve Kerr continues to cycle through lineup combinations with little success.

Saturday’s 113-112 loss to the Clippers offered yet another reality check. After watching his team squander a 22-point, third-quarter lead to slip to 11th place in the Western Conference standings, Kerr conceded that the Warriors had played well enough to win. Green went as far as to say that he didn’t “feel like we did anything that bad.”

If that’s true, Warriors fans must accept a sobering truth: Maybe this team just isn’t very good. A true title contender should be able to beat the sub-.500 Clippers, especially if it didn’t do anything egregious to beat itself.

Few should blame Kerr and Dunleavy, though, for wanting to see how the next few weeks unfold. Paul (bruised left leg nerve) and Wiggins (sore right index finger) could return Wednesday against Portland. With Thompson playing better lately, and Brandin Podziemski and Moses Moody looking like revelations, the Warriors might be poised for a mid-season turnaround.

But if that doesn’t happen by, say, the Feb. 8 trade deadline, Dunleavy should reconsider things. Perhaps he packages Paul’s expiring contract with Jonathan Kuminga for another All-Star-caliber player. Perhaps Dunleavy does the unthinkable and unloads Thompson before a potentially awkward free-agency period.

Regardless of what happens, the Warriors owe it to Curry to pivot if this season derails much further. That could mean having an uncomfortable conversation with him about not finishing his career alongside both Thompson and Green. Though Thompson and Green were instrumental in the dynasty, they have been driving forces behind this season’s struggles.

Aside from a few solid games the past two weeks, Thompson has looked off-rhythm. Meanwhile, Green’s impulse-control problems earned him a recent five-game suspension, reinforced that Draymond still does Draymond, and amplified speculation about his current locker-room standing.

The good news for the Warriors is that youngsters like Podziemski, Moody and even Kuminga are blossoming into franchise building blocks. If Kerr can make the tough call and prioritize the next generation, Golden State might be able to salvage this season without a blockbuster move.

What Kerr and Dunleavy can’t do is take Curry’s longevity for granted. At an age when most players are at least several years into retirement, he is averaging 29.1 points on 47.6% shooting (43.1% from 3-point range), 5 rebounds and 4.7 assists in 33.4 minutes per game.

But not counting a 2019-20 season in which injuries limited him to five games, Curry has a negative differential for the first time in his career. That’s quite noteworthy considering that the Warriors went a combined 85-145 over his first three NBA seasons.

With Golden State on pace to have a No. 2 option with fewer than 16 points per game for the first time since 2003-04, Curry has had to play brilliantly just for his team to have a chance. The Warriors are 0-4 this season when he isn’t their leading scorer.

Curry deserves better, which is why pressure is mounting on the rest of the organization. If Thompson, Green, Wiggins and the rest of the supporting cast can’t give him the help he needs, Dunleavy and Kerr must make some seismic changes.


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