Stephen Curry

Steve Kerr: Steph Curry better now than his unanimous MVP season

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AP

Steve Kerr: Steph Curry better now than his unanimous MVP season

Programming note: Watch the Warriors' final preseason game tonight at 7:30pm on NBC Sports Bay Area.

Steph Curry won the MVP in 2015.

Steph Curry won the MVP in 2016.

During the 2017 NBA Finals, he averaged 26.8 points, 9.4 assists, 8.0 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game.

“I think Steph is at his absolute peak right now -- physically, emotionally," Steve Kerr declared after practice on Thursday. "This is probably as good as he's ever gonna be. I think he's better now than he was last year or the year before. And that's saying something.

“He is the most impactful offensive player, in terms of what he does to the defense, maybe ever. There's guys, obviously Michael Jordan impacted things, but the way Steph plays puts the fear of God into defenses like nobocy I've ever seen. Nobody has been able to shoot off the dribble from 35 feet in a normal setting. But he does that, which changes the entire game. So everything we do revolves around Steph."

Shortly after the Warriors won the title, Steve Kerr said that Kevin Durant, not Curry, is the second best player in the NBA.

At the championship parade in June, Kerr singled out every player on the roster... except Curry.

Many people on "Warriors Twitter" think that Curry is underappreciated and underrated.

“You can talk about where he stands in terms of the best players in the league. He's obviously one of the best, by that standard he's the best," Kerr explained. "If you want to just say ‘who affects the game the most offensively?' Steph is the best player in the NBA. But there's different ways of measuring that stuff. From a two-way standpoint, if you like the two-way guys, maybe it's Kawhi Leonard or KD or LeBron because they're bigger or stronger and can protect the rim.

“Steph is an excellent defender though. He does not get the credit he deserves. There's a lot of guys in the playoffs who are great one-way guys. Steph, he's a two-way player. He gets his hands on passes, he deflects the ball, and all you have to do is just look at the impact he makes every time he's on the floor for us to know that everything we do, everything we run offensively, the other guy's ability to make plays -- Shaun, Andre, Draymond -- it all starts with Steph's gravity."

[REWIND: Kerr's message to Warriors fans who want more pick-and-roll for Curry]

“And then what's amazing about Steph, what continues to add to all that, is his personal character, his unselfishness and the way he approaches the game. His usage rate is maybe 30th in the league. I don't know exactly. He could easily be like, ‘why don't I have the ball? I'm the best offensive player in the history of the game?' We could run high screen every time.

“But he understands the power of the group. He understands that Shaun and Andre and and Draymond and Zaza and David are all great passers and as a group collectively, we are a better team when everybody sharing. And that's what makes Steph amazing. 

"I've said it many times -- he reminds me so much of Tim Duncan in that he's got this incredible package of skill, arrogance and humility. It's a weird combination but it makes sense and the result is this powerful force that drives our entire organization.”

Curry finished sixth in the MVP race last year and did not receive a single first-place or second-place vote.

It's possible that he never wins another MVP again.

But it probably wouldn't be wise to bet against Curry.

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders and a Web Producer at NBC Sports Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

Standing his ground: Steph Curry will keep expressing himself and you can't stop him

Standing his ground: Steph Curry will keep expressing himself and you can't stop him

OAKLAND -- In the 19 days since he expressed zero interest in visiting a White House occupied by Donald Trump, Stephen Curry has seen the best and worst of America through the most accessible lenses we have.

Social media.

“You should go look at my mentions,” Curry said Wednesday when I asked about the response to comments he made nearly three weeks ago.

“It’s pretty positive.”

Don’t get it twisted. Those last three words were basic sarcasm made transparent by Curry’s chuckle.

Yes, there was overwhelming support from fans, celebrities, Curry’s NBA brethren and athletes beyond basketball. But the two-time MVP, who also happens to be among the sports world’s most committed philanthropists, was subjected to waves of insults, anger and dissent.

Curry was referred to as, among other things, ignorant. He was described as a “millionaire punk” and as un-American. And, of course, he was labeled a racist.

Never in his eight-year NBA career has Curry, a devout Christian with a spotless image, been subjected to such blowback from a public that, for the most part, adores him and considers him a role model. Fans of opposing NBA teams aside, if you didn’t like, or at least, appreciate the human being that is Stephen Curry, you probably kicked puppies. Or carried a scowl and a torch.

Curry is acutely aware that his level on the global popularity meter generally ranged between ultrahigh and insane. No matter. Principles are at stake and he has more than a few. Which is why, even as an active player, Curry is walking a sociopolitical path Michael Jordan, the greatest sports legend of the past 25 years, wouldn’t dare.

Even as the face of a major sports apparel company (Under Armour) and an automobile brand (Infiniti), Curry is willing to alienate a segment of the marketplace.

“I’m well aware that, in this world, there’s no way you can please everybody and there’s no reason that you should want to,” Curry said. “I’m very comfortable understanding that, and not letting that affect my view or my stance.”

It was eight months ago that Curry described Trump as an ass. He was among the first group of athletes to speak out, unapologetically, against the man who was voted into office despite admissions of sexual assault, mocking the disabled, taunting POWs and urging his supporters to resort to violence.

It was 19 days ago that Curry said he didn’t want to go to the White House, a statement that prompted Trump to withdraw an invitation never delivered.

Curry has seen and heard plenty. He’s keenly aware of the ongoing conflict between Trump and the NFL, and he knows there is no end in sight. Curry’s promise to himself seems to be to stay consistent and on message, regardless of derisive or divisive reaction.

“Especially with the spotlight I’m under, and my teammates are under, and anybody who is in front of the public eye,” he said. “We’re kind of subject to that. You’ve got to not let that shake your confidence.”

So bring on the insults and the hate. Curry knows they’re coming. He isn’t going anywhere. He will continue to play basketball and use his platform to express his convictions. He has planted his flag, so to speak, and is prepared to stand by it.

“It’s usually the ones that want to speak out the most usually find me on there,” Curry said of social media platforms. “But I don’t pay ‘em no mind. The conversation is still going, and that’s a powerful thing. That’s what it’s all about.”

End of preseason schedule poses test for Warriors

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AP

End of preseason schedule poses test for Warriors

Not once did the Warriors complain about their obligations during a weeklong swing through China that, truth be told, they’d rather have avoided.

As splendid as they looked Sunday in a 142-110 blowout of Minnesota, the Warriors returned to Oakland with eight days to recover from jet lag from two 7,000-mile trips in seven days, fend off any lingering fatigue and have a few productive practices before taking the court Friday for their final exhibition game.

When the regular season opens Oct. 17 there will be an immediate sprint, with the retooled Houston Rockets coming to Oracle Arena.

If the Warriors start slowly, this trip logically would be a contributing factor.

The Warriors, players and coaches, conceded that the offseason felt particularly short. They opened training camp on Sept. 23, the same day as the Timberwolves, but Minnesota’s 2016-17 NBA season ended a full two months earlier.

That’s why this China trek was so challenging, even though the Warriors excelled in the role of basketball ambassadors, smiling, signing autographs and playfully engaging local fans while dragging themselves across multiple time zones. They’re the most popular team in the league, generally amiable and reigning champs. It’s obvious why the league selected them as representatives.

“It’s just counter-productive in a way,” Shaun Livingston, speaking of the journey, told reporters in Shanghai, “because of the schedule and because it’s more than just the basketball part.”

The Warriors went through this only upon request. This was not something they would have chosen to undertake, even though they’re too diplomatic to say so. They simply accepted the challenge even while aware of potential pitfalls.

“This is about a cultural experience, about sharing NBA basketball with our fans in China,” coach Steve Kerr said. “It’s a great trip, a great experience, but this is not the way to prepare for the season.

“But that’s all right. We’ll have about a week when we get back, and I’m sure we’ll be fine.”

Insofar as he coaches a team of professionals, Kerr is probably right. They will be fine. But there is no way of knowing whether that will be next week or next month. There is no knowing how long they’ll have a China hangover.

Understand, the Warriors have nothing against China or the Chinese. Some players brought their families along. The team’s four All-Stars -- Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson -- make regular trips -- 15-hour flights each way -- and really seem to enjoy it.

No, this is about a team that can only hope there will be no residual effect from its second trip to China in four seasons.

This is about a team coming off three of the longest seasons in league history, the most recent ending June 12 in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

A team that, even without a postseason, consistently ranks among the top five in air miles traveled over the course of a season.

A team that, including the postseason, has flown more miles than any other over the past three seasons.

Any NBA team spending a week of its preseason in China, or anyplace else far beyond the United States, is forced to make adjustments to its routine. The Warriors spent less time on the court than meeting team and individual commitments off it.

“It’s a huge problem,” Green told reporters. “You kind of take training camp and break it up. It’s not the norm, so I think it’s a humongous problem.

“You start to risk injury and all of those things . . . so we have a pretty professional team. Guys get their work in, but it’s still nothing like actual practicing and that tempo. It’s more a risk of injury than the season. We’ll figure it out over the season.”

Oh, they certainly will. After all, they’re the deepest, most talented team in the NBA. They’ll recover. What’s uncertain is when.