There might not be a soul in the NBA with a deeper appreciation for Stephen Curry’s wonderful season than the Hall of Fame point guard who spent four years monitoring Warriors practices and took particular interest in Curry.
That would be Steve Nash, former Warriors player development consultant and current head coach of the Brooklyn Nets.
“Steph is one of the great gifts of our game,” Nash said Saturday afternoon, 90 minutes before the Warriors and Nets tipped off Chase Center. “He’s so unique in his accuracy, dexterity, the efficient nature of him scoring, from an incredible disparate range of shots and types of shots. It's unprecedented.
“He loves the game, loves to compete and loves to train. He trains to be great, so it's no surprise to me that he's having as good a year as he ever had. And he’s continuing to evolve and improve.”
The Curry-Nash parallels have been there almost from Day One. Both came to the NBA out of mid-major colleges, Nash from Santa Clara and Curry from Davidson. Both had to cope with questions about their slight frames. Both were fabulous ball-handlers and efficient scorers.
Their similarities were a factor in Warriors coach Steve Kerr coaxing Nash, then one year into retirement, to spend a couple days every few weeks working with Curry during and after practices. Nash did so for four years.
Curry acknowledges that parts of his game were greatly influenced by Nash, who spent 18 seasons in the NBA. That influence extends to living and training at levels required to thrive beyond 30 and have a long career.
“I definitely feel like my second stint in Phoenix – I was 30 – everything seemed to kind of make sense, instinctively,” said Nash, who officially retired in 2015, six weeks after his 41st birthday. “The game kind of slowed down for me, where I felt great sense of control on the floor.”
That’s where Curry, 32, is this season. He’s playing at a high level across the board, averaging 30.0 points per game – his highest mark since 2015-16 – while shooting 43.5 percent beyond the arc, 49.0 percent overall and 93.0 percent from the line.
Curry has been utterly spectacular over the last eight games, averaging 35.3 points per game while shooting 52.5 percent from distance and 56.8 percent overall, thrusting his name into the MVP conversation that usually ignores players on teams struggling to stay above .500.