It's strange to think that Steph Curry has had to change his role over the years to help the Warriors be successful.
Golden State's entire offensive system is built around Curry, and he's been the face of the franchise since he was drafted by the team in 2009. He has won two MVP awards and has led the Warriors to three NBA championships and five NBA Finals appearances.
But, when you look at his 12-year career in Golden State, he has worn many hats.
At first, he was the supporting guard alongside Monta Ellis. Then he was the primary scorer and ball-handler during the team's rise. In the Kevin Durant era, Curry went back to playing a supporting role. And now, as the Warriors fight to make the playoffs, he's back to needing to be the "it" player.
Switching roles like this isn't easy for any player, but particularly one with Curry's résumé.
"The biggest thing that I respect about Steph is, he has had to modify his game a little bit after those MVP runs," former Warrior Andrew Bogut said on the Dubs Talk Podcast. "I mean, two-time MVP and then lets in a guy who is essentially one of the best basketball players in the world and then would share the spotlight of being one of the best guys on the team.
"He rolled with it. He took on a lesser role to an extent. He knew he would take less shots, he wouldn’t have the ball in his hands as much, and to go from that to back to where he is now, to flip that switch of I’m the guy again, I need to be a 30-point plus scorer, that’s hard to do."
Bogut knows firsthand how difficult it can be to switch your role on a team at the drop of a pin. When he was with the Milwaukee Bucks from 2005 to 2012, he was their first or second scoring option. When he came to Golden State in 2012, the Warriors saw him as a fourth or fifth option. After his time in the NBA was done, Bogut went back to play in Australia, where they saw him as a primary scorer again.
"I wasn't at that level when I played," Bogut said.
"The fact that Steph has been able to still play at an elite level within different roles, it’s a credit to him not only as a player but as a person," Bogut said. "I can say that no matter how much guys in the NBA talk about ‘We want to win a championship’ and all that stuff, all of the sudden if it’s not you on the billboard all of the time when you’re supposed to be the franchise guy, 99 percent of the guys don’t like that. As much as they’ll lie to the media, they don’t. He genuinely was one guy that was like 'Hey, it’s going to win us more games.'"
What Curry has been doing this season -- and particularly in the month of April -- puts him high up in this season's MVP race, according to Bogut. Over the last month, Curry has been averaging 37.3 points on 52.7 percent field goal shooting, including 47.3 percent shooting from three.
This season, Curry has had six games where he's knocked down 10 or more threes. He's done it 21 times over the course of his career. Klay Thompson is in second place on that list with five.
Whether or not Curry is playing the best basketball he's ever played can be debated. But there is no denying that April was the hottest streak he's ever had. Yet, his chances for this year's MVP are slim.
The No. 1 thing working against Curry in the MVP race is the Warriors' record. Golden State sits at an even 31-31, good for 10th spot in the Western Conference. The Warriors have a good shot of making the playoffs via the play-in tournament. But for Curry to have a serious opportunity to be named the most valuable player, the Warriors likely would have to finish in sixth place or higher in the standings.
After a loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, that doesn't seem to be in the cards.
But even if Curry doesn't get the trophy, there's no denying the immense impact he has on the Warriors' success, no matter what his role is.
"I think Steph is one of the most valuable players every year," Bogut said. "Numbers-wise, he’s still one of the most valuable guys, even when he’s not scoring the ball he demands so much attention that it’s opening up spacing for other guys."