SANTA CRUZ – Stephen Curry spent more than three hours Monday stretching and jogging and running and shooting and scrimmaging with his temporary teammates inside Kaiser Permanente Arena.
This was the final phase of his lengthy rehabilitation after undergoing two procedures to repair a fracture of the second metacarpal of his left hand, and though Curry did not pronounce himself ready for the NBA – though he surely believes he is – it was all green lights for the basketball folks in the gym.
How did Curry look to G-League Santa Cruz Warriors guard Jeremy Pargo?
“Like Steph,” said Pargo, who is two weeks removed from a 10-day contract with the Golden State Warriors. “Like Steph of old. He made some shots that were Steph of old. His game is going to be his game, and he’s going to be amazing at what he does no matter what. His confidence level speaks to that, and the shots he made today speak to that.”
It is anticipated that Curry, out since last Oct. 30, will be available Thursday night when the Warriors face the Toronto Raptors at Chase Center.
Asked if Curry appeared ready for NBA action, Santa Cruz coach Kris Weems didn’t hesitate.
“I think so,” he said. “His wind looks really good. You always worry about that when you haven’t had any game experience, any live action. But he’s been doing conditioning, clearly.
“The real thing is getting bumped around, the physicality of the game, setting screens, fighting over screens, maybe jamming that wrist, or that hand, on a fall. You have to have those things to feel like you’re ready to go. Hopefully, we gave him that in that.”
Weems split his shorthanded roster – two players were out for personal reasons and one was injured – into two groups, with Curry on his Blue squad and NBA veteran Jonathan Simmons on the Gold team coached by assistant coach James Andrisevic.
With the teams playing three seven-minute quarters, the Gold posted a 49-48 win. Curry missed a potential game-winning floater with three defenders flying in his direction.
“We got the shot off, but maybe not the best shot,” Weems said.
“At the beginning, he wasn’t shooting as well (as normal),” Santa Cruz forward Roger Moute a Bidias said of Curry. “He was missing a lot of open shots. As we went on, I feel like he got his wind, got his legs under him, and he was making more and more shots, making tough shots.”
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Once the scrimmage was concluded, Curry spent another hour or more working on individual drills, mostly shooting and ball-handling. He was pulled aside several times by Celebrini, who guided Curry through motions affecting balance and leverage.
The purpose of having one final scrimmage, conducted under the watchful eye of Dr. Rick Celebrini, Golden State’s director of sport medicine and performance, was to prepare Curry for a return to the NBA this week.
“The big thing is you can’t replicate a game playing 3-on-3,” Weems said. “He needed that 5-on-5, with all five guys moving around. He’d take some bumps. The physicality is what’s going to be important for him to feel comfortable in a game, so we wanted to give him that today.”