Warriors

Steph, Kerr fine-tuning, experimenting with rotation pattern

Warriors
Steph shooting

For as long as Steve Kerr has been the coach of the Warriors, Steph Curry has had a pretty normal rotation pattern.

In previous seasons, barring foul trouble, Curry would play all 12 minutes in the first quarter, sit the first six or so minutes of the second quarter before re-entering, and repeat that pattern in the second half.

Like clockwork, Warriors fans and opponents could expect to see Curry at the scorer's table midway through the second and fourth quarters, ready to hit them with a haymaker before the end of the period.

But this season, with the depth the Warriors possess, Kerr has been changing things up, and it's unclear if Curry actually likes what is happening. Kerr said Curry hasn't requested any changes to his rotation pattern.

"We're in the stages where we're experimenting a little bit," Kerr told reporters after the Warriors' 126-85 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night. "I love having him close quarters. He's the best in the world at 2-for-1, half-court shots. You want him out there at the end of quarters. On the other hand, if you make a substitution and the team is going well, then you just let that group go. And that would be the time to bring Steph back to start the second. I don't know that there's going to be a set pattern. As long as our players are comfortable doing it this way, then we can ride the hot combinations and find different combinations during the course of the game that are working well.

 

In Friday's game, the first half went according to the old plan. Curry played the entire first quarter and finished with 12 points on four 3-pointers. In the second quarter, he subbed back in at the 5:31 mark and played until halftime, though he didn't score during that period.

But in the third quarter, Kerr went with the new plan, subbing Curry out with 6:08 remaining. He checked back in at the 3:16 mark and finished the quarter on the court.

With the Warriors leading by 20 points entering the fourth quarter and Curry three minutes below what he normally would have played through three quarters, he began the final period on the floor. Within three minutes, the Warriors pushed their advantage to 27 points and Curry subbed out for the final time, finishing with 29:45 of game action, bringing his season average down to 34.3 minutes per game, right at where he was last season (34.2 minutes in 63 games).

When Curry was asked after Friday's game about his minutes and how he was being used, he initially was very short with his answers.

"We're winning," Curry told reporters. "We're winning right now, so, it's still early in the year."

Was he surprised to be subbed out midway through the third quarter against the Pelicans?

"I want to play 48 minutes," Curry said. "I'm always surprised when I come out.

"We'll fine-tune all of that as the season goes on, but we're winning, so it's good."

Curry usually finishes quarters so that he can bomb away from 3-point range and demoralize opponents with dagger shots at the buzzer. But there have been instances this season where Kerr has stuck with a hot unit and left Curry on the bench to end a quarter.

"I'm open to different looks that maybe keep minutes monitored, but still allow it to be continuous so you still keep a rhythm and what I'm used to," Curry said. "But again, long season, so things get ironed out and change pretty quickly depending on how things are going."

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Curry, the two-time NBA MVP and three-time NBA champion, is a creature of habit and how he has been used for the last seven seasons under Kerr has been pretty consistent. It's unclear if Kerr will keep experimenting with the rotation structure or revert back Curry's usual pattern. While the Warriors are 7-1 entering Sunday's game against the Houston Rockets at Chase Center, it doesn't seem like Curry is the biggest fan of what's happening.

But as long as the Warriors keep winning, it sounds like Curry will go along with the plan.