How Steph Curry, trainer are attacking this offseason for Warriors star

How Steph Curry, trainer are attacking this offseason for Warriors star

OAKLAND – Steph Curry’s 11th NBA season begins in about 10 weeks and it will in some ways be the most challenging of his career.

Which has Curry, 31, in the gym/lab with Brandon Payne, the trainer who over the past eight years has helped advance the two-time MVP. They’re tinkering with this, experimenting with that and tossing some concepts into the recycling bin.

“Movement and recovery are the main focus this offseason,” Payne told NBC Sports Bay Area on Tuesday. “We want to make him stronger, but we want to at first make sure that he’s moving at optimal levels.

“We don’t approach this in terms of thinking his shot numbers are going to up or anything like that. It’s more a matter of trying to make him the best version of himself. If we do that, we’ll be satisfied and he’ll be prepared to play 82 games, which is our goal going into every year.”

Curry has never played all 82 games, tying his career-high of 80 in 2014-15. After missing a total of eight games in the first three seasons under coach Steve Kerr, Curry fell off to 51 in 2017-18 before bouncing back to play 69 games last season.

But never in this glorified era of Warriors basketball has his presence been more essential. Gone are Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, three stellar members of the championship roster. Five-time All-Star Klay Thompson, Curry’s backcourt sidekick for eight seasons, is expected to miss at least at least three months while recovering from ACL surgery.

All of which means Steph can anticipate an appreciable reduction in load management. Kerr already has conceded that the minutes of core players such as Draymond Green, Kevon Looney and Curry, could go up. And rest nights will be rarer still.

“The load management thing is not that big a deal as long as you recover properly between workouts and games,” Payne said. “But, yeah, we know it’s going to be a heavier load. That’s why a heavy emphasis this offseason has been on creating a solid recovery process, something that we can work on and refine between workouts and carry over into the season, and that can be easily repeatable on a daily basis.

“We don’t have (Curry) walking around in bubble wrap, but we are being a little more intelligent about how we’re loading his body.”

Though the Warriors last month acquired All-Star guard D’Angelo Russell, who is slated to open the season starting alongside Curry in the backcourt, the veteran who has mastered the offense and owns a truckload of accolades will continue to be the team’s offensive catalyst.

Recognizing the Curry-Russell duo will bear the majority of the scoring burden, Curry and Payne are not waiting for training camp next month to start the team-building process. They’re already a couple weeks into the process.

“We’ve had D-Lo in for workouts, so we’ve had the opportunity to have them work together and kind of get to know each other,” said Payne, the founder/owner of Accelerate Basketball Training. “That’s been productive. It gave D-Lo a glimpse into what we do on a daily basis, and I think that was good for him to see. I think that backcourt pairing is going to be really nice.”

So much about the direction of 2019-20 Warriors will be determined by Curry. If he’s healthy and MVP-level brilliant, they could exceed 50 wins and fight for a top-four playoff seed. If he misses significant portions of the season or struggles under defenses keying on him, simply making the playoffs would be a meaningful achievement.

Payne is confident that Curry, even at this stage of his career, can continue to improve.

[RELATED: Why Klay Thompson is optimistic about Warriors]

“We’re continuing on his skill expansion; we’re still trying to expand his skill set,” he said. “We’re adding things to be more efficient. We make adjustments based on what we saw over 82 games, plus playoffs. We take a look at what teams did that may have had some success against him and we try to neutralize those things going into the next season.”

In an NBA rich with delicious storylines entering next season, curiosity over Curry 11.0 barely registers -- at least outside the Bay Area. Curry and Payne are OK with that. They’ll settle for lifting the Warriors higher than many believe they can go.

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 129-124 OT road loss to Blazers


Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 129-124 OT road loss to Blazers


PORTLAND -- The Warriors and Blazers matchup has provided plenty of memorable moments in the last decade. 

Now, even with both teams out of the playoff picture, they provided another thriller Monday night, with the Blazers (19-26) winning 129-124 in overtime at Moda Center. 

Along the way, Oakland-native Damian Lillard scored career-high 61 points, overcoming a balanced offensive effort from Eric Paschall, Alec Burks and D'Angelo Russell. 

After Lillard hit a 3-pointer to force overtime, the Blazers outscored Golden State 16-11 in the extra session, capped by two free throws from Lillard to seal the loss. In a season defined by injury, Monday's loss provided several lessons for the young core.

Here are the takeaways from a loss that gives the Warriors a 10-35 record:

Burks shines

With Russell struggling early and the Warriors failing to make any 3-pointers in the first quarter, an offensive spark was needed. By the end of the night, Burks provided that, scoring 33 points, grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out eight assists. 

Burks started early, scoring Golden State's first nine points of the contest, becoming the lone bright spot in a quarter the Warriors shot 32.1 percent from the field. Down the stretch, he hit timely shots to combat Lillard's huge night. 

The performance was on brand for Burks, who came into Monday's game averaging 16.4 points over his last eight games. With most of Golden State's reputable scoring options on the bench, Burks will need to continue his current level of play for the team to have a chance. 

Marquese Chriss flies around

For the last week, Chriss has been adjusting to life as a two-way player, skipping most practices to preserve his active days on the roster. On Monday, he showed little sign of rust, scoring 14 points and pulling down six rebounds. 

Chriss was especially good in the second quarter, scoring six points in seven minutes, helping the Warriors take a 12-point lead. As he's shown throughout the season,  Chriss can be a difference-maker, especially as a lob threat. Under his current contract, he can prove to be a long-term difference maker. At his current pace, he's on track to do so. 

What rookie wall?

Recently, Paschall has been hearing questions about the drop from his early-season performance, prompting murmurs that he's hitting a "rookie wall." In the last week, he's momentarily quelled the noise, providing another strong display against the Blazers.

In 42 minutes, he scored 22 points and secured 13 rebounds. Paschall was especially good in the third quarter, scoring 10 points during the stretch, helping the Warriors take a five-point lead into the fourth quarter. 

The performance was indicative of Paschall's recent play. Entering Monday's game, he averaged 17.3 points and 5.7 rebounds over his last three games. If his latest output was any indication, he looks to be right back on track in his rookie season.

Charles Barkley calls Steph Curry, Klay Thompson 'Stay and Kleph'

Charles Barkley calls Steph Curry, Klay Thompson 'Stay and Kleph'

Charles Barkley needs to put some respect on Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.

But first, he needs to figure out how to say their names correctly.

At halftime of the Warriors-Blazers game, the TNT analyst was trying to say "Steph and Klay." Instead, he said this:

It was probably just a slip of the tongue, but considering it came from Barkley, Warriors fans wouldn't be faulted for thinking this was just another slight from the zero-time NBA champion.

All throughout the Warriors' five-year NBA Finals run, Barkley routinely criticized them. He kept saying a jump-shooting team couldn't win a championship (there's so many things wrong with that statement.)

Just last week, Barkley took a shot at Draymond Green, saying "Draymond don't talk as much since he's averaging that triple single."

On opening night in October, Thompson joined the TNT crew for their halftime show and Barkley told the All-Star shooting guard the Warriors wouldn't make the playoffs.

[RELATED: Steph targeting March 1 return]

In the end, Steph and Klay will always have the last laugh over Barkley. They have three rings (and counting). He has none.

Do you know how to say "none" correctly, Chuck?