Warriors

Steph Curry is quietly crushing everyone to start 2018-19 NBA season

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USATSI

Steph Curry is quietly crushing everyone to start 2018-19 NBA season

OAKLAND -- Keep it quiet, for we’re only eight days into the NBA season and Stephen Curry doesn’t mind the silence.

Let him do this in peace.

So, please, discuss how happy the Warriors are with Damian Jones’ start to his nascent NBA career, the 7-footer trying to prove he belongs.

Waste time worrying, if you must, about Klay Thompson missing 3-pointers he’ll be splashing any minute now, maybe as soon as Wednesday night against the Wizards.

Keep reheating the topic of Kevin Durant’s future or updating DeMarcus Cousins’ rehab or debating how much playing time should go to Jordan Bell.

One more thing: Congratulate Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic on being named this season’s first Western Conference Player of the Week.

But, by all means, take your time examining Curry, who has opened this season by subtly demolishing every defense he sees.

It was two weeks ago that Curry told NBC Sports Bay Area that he believed his single-season NBA record for 3-pointers was safe -- at least for now -- even as teams hoist up more 3-balls than ever. Getting to 402 requires so many significant factors to go well, he said. Has to be the right team, the right time and the right circumstances.

So how does Curry start the season? By averaging 30.5 points while making 22 3-pointers in four games -- a league record for the first four games.

He averaged 5.3 triples per game in 2015-16, when he set the record. He’s averaging 5.5 so far this season, a pace that over 82 games puts him at 451. That specific pace means less than this one: Curry is averaging a career-high 11.7 3-point shots per game. That will put him at about 962 attempts, 76 more than he launched in setting the record three seasons ago.

Moreover, Curry is shooting 46.7 percent from beyond the arc -- and doing it when neither Kevin Durant nor Klay Thompson has gotten warm enough to spread the defense. Curry is responsible for 57.9 percent of the team’s 3-point makes.

“Everything is geared toward the offense right now,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said late Monday night. “The league is in a good place with a lot of talent, and people are able to show their talent, and that’s a good thing.”

As much as Kerr can say he doesn’t want his players hunting 3-pointers, and that there is no goal for the number of attempts beyond the arc, he also encourages them to fire away whenever the shot is there. This is particularly true for Curry, Durant and Thompson.

While Durant and Thompson have not found their rhythm with deep shots, Curry is filling the void. And once his teammates get going, it’s not as if Curry will stop firing those 25-footers.

It is, after all, a short leap from taking an average of 9.9 3-pointers last season and the 11 or so that, if he stays healthy, would put him in position break his record.

“I’m just trying to play strong, play efficient and consistent,” Curry told our Kerith Burke. “You don’t know how you’re going to get it, just keep your foot on the gas pedal, try to play-make and use the guys around me and try to make them better.”

His timing is good. While teammate Draymond Green has no love for the new points of emphasis dictated to NBA officials -- designed in part to give offensive players greater freedom of movement -- Curry practically is giggling inside.

No, he’s really, really enjoying this direction because overall scoring is up, and much of the uptick is through production of 3-point shots.

“I don’t know if that’s the way it’s officiated or if teams are stacking rosters with faster and more versatile guys, for more consistent parts of the game,” he said. “I really don’t know exactly what the cause is, but it’s great for the offensive-minded guys.”

Curry paused ever so briefly and then accentuated his comments with a wink. Couldn’t resist. Not that he should.

Warriors’ still-mounting injuries a big blow to young players’ development

Warriors’ still-mounting injuries a big blow to young players’ development

SAN FRANCISCO -- In the waning moments of the Warriors' latest loss Friday night, their bench resembled the front row of a fashion show more than a functioning NBA roster.

Toward the end of the bench, All-Star guard Stephen Curry sat in a black suit jacket, covering a massive cast protecting his broken left hand. To Curry's left, center Kevon Looney sat in a gray suit, his immediate future in peril as he continues to seek answers about an injured hamstring.

That type of visual has become commonplace over the last month.

Over that stretch, 11 Warriors players have been sidelined with injuries, crippling a roster that seemed armed with an outside shot of making the playoffs on opening night just three weeks ago.

The latest blow came Saturday morning, when an MRI confirmed that D'Angelo Russell had suffered a sprained thumb, sidelining him for at least two weeks. Over his previous six games, the guard had averaged 29.7 points on 48 percent shooting from the field, including a 52-point, nine-rebound performance against Minnesota, so his absence will be felt.

That's because the Warriors are in roster transition, marked by their youthful core.

When Jordan Poole and Eric Paschall were drafted in June, the expectation was that the rookies would be brought along slowly, learning behind Golden State's battered All-Star cast. The myriad injuries changed that, though, forcing both into more minutes than initially anticipated.

While Paschall has flourished in that spot (15.6 points and 4.6 rebounds in 30.8 minutes per game), Poole has struggled. Since Curry's injury in the fourth game of the season, Poole has shot 29 percent from the field, and he has hit just five of his last 28 shots over his last two contests.

The trickle-down effect started on the eve of training camp, when Warriors general manager Bob Myers announced that center Willie Cauley-Stein would miss most of October with a foot strain. Two days later, rookie Alen Smailagic rolled his ankle and Looney strained his hamstring in the same controlled scrimmage.

Last month, Curry broke his hand, sidelining the guard until at least February. Two nights later, forward Draymond Green tore a ligament in his left index finger. On Monday, two-way guard Damion Lee fractured his hand.

Amid all those injuries, Warriors coach Steve Kerr trotted out his ninth starting lineup of the season Friday, with two-way guard Ky Bowman at the point. For a moment, it worked.

Midway through the third quarter, Bowman intercepted a pass, ran cross court and dunked over Grant Williams, cutting the Celtics' lead to three. Two minutes later, Alec Burk stripped Boston guard Brandon Wanamaker, setting up a fast-break layup that gave Golden State a brief 82-80 lead before the Celtics rallied and held on in the fourth quarter.

The Warriors' current reality is much different than their immediate past. After winning 78 percent of their games over five years, they now find themselves with a roster that lost Kevin Durant to free agency, while Curry and Klay Thompson's rehabs are expected to last until at least February. Their 2-11 record is the NBA's worst.

[RELATED: How die-hard Warriors fans can stay optimistic]

Minutes after the final buzzer Friday, there were reminders of potential hopes lost. Curry's hand swelled out of his cast as he walked near a team official. In the locker room, Paschall sported an ice pack on his right hand, and Poole reconciled an ankle injury that he said wouldn't affect him.

As the Warriors packed for another road trip, potentially with just eight healthy bodies for the foreseeable future, another reminder that the team's development is coming at a hefty price was evident.

Warriors' D'Angelo Russell out at least two weeks with right thumb sprain

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Warriors' D'Angelo Russell out at least two weeks with right thumb sprain

Add another one to the list.

After leaving Friday night’s loss to the Celtics with a thumb injury, an MRI has confirmed a right thumb sprain for All-Star guard D'Angelo Russell.

Russell will not travel with the team on the upcoming four-game road trip and will be re-evaluated in two weeks.

Golden State’s already lengthy injury report adds another name, as the team now stands with just nine healthy players as the team embarks for New Orleans on Saturday to kick off the trip.