Warriors

Curry hopes for a quick return and to 'prove what coach said is wrong'

Curry hopes for a quick return and to 'prove what coach said is wrong'

OAKLAND -- Ninety minutes after Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Stephen Curry will miss the first round of the playoffs, Curry limped into the interview room wearing bright blue over-the-calf socks and matching shower shoes, smiling before taking a seat.

Not much else he can do, under the circumstances.

Curry has missed 21 games this season and will add 10 more absences before the regular season concludes April 10. He has endured bruises to a hand and to a thigh, injuries to an ankle and now a Grade 2 MCL sprain of his right knee that will cause him to miss a part of the playoffs.

“Mentally, for me, it’s about staying positive and staying upbeat,” Curry said late Sunday afternoon. “Hopefully, I can prove what coach said is wrong and put myself in position to get back as soon as possible.

“But right now, who knows? Just try to do my job in the rehab process and get back as soon as I can.”

Curry had missed six games before returning Friday and sustaining the knee injury in the third quarter against the Hawks. He has good idea of what’s ahead in terms of rehab, as in the 2016 playoffs he incurred a less severe (Grade 1) sprain of his right knee and missed two weeks.

The Warriors are saying he’s likely to miss at five weeks this time, which puts his return right around the time the Western Conference semifinals begin, as early as April 28 but as late as May 1.

“There’s a blessing in all of this and hopefully there’s a story in all of this,” Curry said. “At the end of the day, I’ll have an opportunity to get back on the court, hopefully, before our season is over with, and do what I can to help our team win a championship. That’s all I’m focused on now. It’s just going to take a different shape than I expected going into this season, let alone going into this last stretch of the year.”

Curry had hoped to use the final three weeks of the regular season to tune up for the postseason, which is how this Warriors team will be measured. That all changed when JaVale McGee fell backward into Curry’s legs, resulting in the sprain.

“In basketball, and in sports in general, you can’t control everything,” Curry said. “Accidents happen. I’m not going to let it be a defeating situation. I’m going to treat it with a sense of humor. It’s a tough turn of events, but I’ll have an opportunity to play in games that matter in the playoffs. And that’s really the focus.”

Curry joins fellow All-Star teammates Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson on the sideline. Green is expected back on Tuesday. Durant is scheduled to return this week, maybe as early as Tuesday. Thompson remains at least one week away.

“We’re all going through individual things,” Curry said. “But I don’t think any of this is going to shake us from our ultimate goal of winning a championship. At that point, we’ll look back on all these kinds of incidents and laugh about them.”

NBA power rankings: Western Conference standings by top four players

NBA power rankings: Western Conference standings by top four players

Editor's note: Grant Liffmann (@grantliffmann) is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 90 minutes before each home game and 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.

The NBA landscape was completely altered this summer with many teams loading up on star power, in an effort to make a run for a suddenly wide-open NBA title. Following the league's talent reshuffling, the Western Conference is deeper than ever, and with Kevin Durant leaving the Warriors to head to the Brooklyn Nets, there is no clear-cut favorite to win the conference.

To illustrate how talented the West is, I will rank all the teams in the conference by their four best players.

This list does not show how I'd rank each team in the standings. Some teams are built on depth rather than star power (i.e. Denver), while others have question marks about their bench (i.e. Golden State). Also, for the sake of this exercise, let us assume all players are completely healthy.

Opinions definitely will vary on the order of this list, and the players I selected to represent each team. So what do you think?

Click to see Outsider's rankings of top quartets in Western Conference

NBA rumors: Team USA considering D'Angelo Russell as World Cup replacement

NBA rumors: Team USA considering D'Angelo Russell as World Cup replacement

After playing in five straight NBA Finals, Steph Curry and Draymond Green have a ton of extra miles on their legs, and Klay Thompson is recovering from surgery on his torn left ACL.

But Warriors newcomer D'Angelo Russell doesn't have the same wear and tear, which is why he could find himself playing for Team USA in the FIBA World Cup later this summer.

The Athletic's Joe Vardon reported Monday that Team USA is considering adding Russell as a replacement on the roster that will compete in China.

Russell is under consideration because a plethora of marquee stars have withdrawn from the competition in recent days to focus on the 2019-20 NBA season.

On Monday alone, Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris and No. 1 overall draft pick Zion Williamson pulled out of the event. Anthony Davis, James Harden, Bradley Beal, C.J. McCollum and Eric Gordon also have withdrawn in recent days. Vardon reported Monday that Damian Lillard and Kevin Love are expected to make their decisions in the coming days.

Russell had a breakout 2018-19 season with the Brooklyn Nets and earned his first All-Star Game selection. In 81 games, the former No. 2 overall draft pick averaged 21.1 points and 7.0 assists in 30.2 minutes.

The Warriors acquired Russell earlier in July as part of the sign-and-trade deal that sent Kevin Durant to the Nets.

[RELATED: Can Poole earn a rotation spot?]

While the Warriors probably would prefer if Russell rested and got ready for his first season with the team, experiencing the Team USA environment and playing in high-level competition could be beneficial for the 23-year-old. Getting a taste of winning can't hurt, either.