Why to expect Warriors' Steph Curry to have James Harden-like season

Why to expect Warriors' Steph Curry to have James Harden-like season

What are reasonable expectations for Steph Curry this NBA season?

That's a question The Ringer's Zach Kram set out to answer Tuesday and based on his findings, MVP voters better take notice.

Why? Because the most fitting comparison for what to expect from the Warriors guard this season, according to Kram, is the player who finished runner-up in MVP voting last season and won it the year before that.

That's right. Based on what Curry has averaged per 75 possessions without either Kevin Durant or Klay Thompson on the floor over the last three seasons, we can expect his 2019-20 season to mirror that of James Harden's in 2018-19.

That's a high bar, considering the Houston Rockets star produced the second-highest scoring average (36.1 ppg) in NBA history by any player not named Wilt Chamberlain last season. But Kram has data to back up his assertion.

Over the last three seasons (regular season and playoffs combined), Curry has played 1,214 minutes with both Durant and Thompson off the floor. Given that Durant now plays for the Nets and Thompson is expected to miss most -- if not all -- of the 2019-20 season, that's an accurate representation of the situation Curry will find himself in this year.

And, if we break those minutes down into possessions, the comparison between Curry's upcoming season and the one Harden just had becomes much tougher to deny.

"These two stat lines -- Curry’s per-75-possession numbers without Durant and Thompson ... Harden’s overall numbers in the 2018-19 regular season," Kram wrote, "are eerily similar, down to the exact same true shooting percentage."

See for yourself.


Image: The Ringer, Zach Kram

Eerily similar, indeed.

As you can see, Curry is quite capable of producing a one-man show; he simply hasn't been in a situation where that was required over the last three seasons. But with Thompson rehabbing, Durant and Andre Iguodala elsewhere and Shaun Livingston retired, it's a brand-new world for Curry and the Warriors, and Golden State might need him to claim it as his own to make another postseason run.

Consider this: Harden had a usage rate of 40.5 percent last season (the second-highest in NBA history), but throughout his career, Curry has never used more than 32.6 percent of the Warriors possessions in any single season. By the way, that career-high came in 2015-16, when Curry became the first unanimous MVP in league history.

With Golden State's revamped roster, it's not just reasonable to expect Curry to produce his highest usage rate ever in the season ahead; it likely will be required. His 2019 preseason numbers only support that assumption.

Over four preseason games, Curry averaged career-highs in shot attempts, 3-point attempts, free-throw attempts and points per possession. Per 75 possessions, he averaged 35 points and converted 43 percent of his 12-plus 3-point attempts per game -- numbers very much in line with Curry's per-75 possession averages without Durant and Thompson over the last three seasons.

Now, obviously, there are other factors to consider. Curry's new backcourt partner D'Angelo Russell will have the ball in his hands quite often as well, and the degree to which Russell is effective will have an impact on how much is required of Curry. Of course, it's worth mentioning that Harden played alongside a ball-dominant guard in Chris Paul each of the last two seasons.

[RELATED: Watch Brian Shaw highlight how Steph, D-Lo fit on Warriors]

We don't know what to expect from the Warriors this season. But if Curry provides what we can reasonably expect from him, it will provide both him and Golden State with the chance to add some more hardware.

Warriors' Draymond Green excited to play like he did pre-Kevin Durant

Warriors' Draymond Green excited to play like he did pre-Kevin Durant

It's wild how things can change so quickly in such a short amount of time.

In late September -- just before the Warriors opened training camp -- Draymond Green had lofty expectations for the 2019-20 season.

"I'm going back to the way I was pre-KD (Kevin Durant), and that's exciting to me," he told Sam Alipour of ESPN in an article published Friday. "I had to give up shots to make sure Kevin gets his touches, and I don't regret that. It got me a couple of championships.

"But as a competitor, as someone who's still in his prime, who's been in the gym all summer trying to improve my game, it's exciting to know that I can go back to playing the way that I was playing before.

"You haven't seen the best of me. I'm definitely not at my peak. I have so much room to grow, new heights that I can reach -- like becoming a 40 percent 3-point shooter. That'd be amazing, right?

"My shooting dropped off the last couple of seasons, but it's tough when you're taking only two or three 3s a game. My percentages were a lot higher when I took more."

Well, fast forward six weeks later and Draymond finds himself in unchartered territory as the Warriors (2-10) have the worst record in the NBA.

Plain and simple, he doesn't look like himself so far. He not only is playing without Klay Thompson, but Steph Curry also won't be taking the floor for several more months, and Kevon Looney remains out indefinitely.

As a result, the Warriors predominantly have become a pick-and-roll team, as Draymond finds himself watching D'Angelo Russell run the show.

"I’ve always been a playmaker. I don't really have the ball much," the three-time All-Star told reporters Monday night after Golden State's loss to the Jazz.

"This is going to allow him to play off the ball and space out and work on his shot," coach Steve Kerr told the media Tuesday. "I'm going to encourage that. He can get that confidence back."

Let's take a look at Draymond's 3-point shooting over the years:
-2015-16 = 38.8 percent on 3.2 attempts
-2016-17 = 30.8 percent on 3.5 attempts
-2017-18 = 30.1 percent on 3.7 attempts
-2018-19 = 28.5 percent on 2.5 attempts

So Draymond's earlier point about fewer attempts negatively impacting his percentage doesn't really hold up, because he shot more triples in the first two seasons with KD than he did during his career-year in 2015-16.

But in his defense, Draymond making those shots didn't matter as much with KD onboard because the loaded Warriors probably were going to win the game anyway.

[RELATEDHow much one bettor makes if Warriors win 2020 NBA Finals]

That no longer is the case. And even if Draymond were to go 8-for-10 from deep in a game this season, the Dubs still might lose.

But thinking big picture, the two-time All-NBA selection absolutely should use this season to regain his consistency from beyond the arc (he went 2-for-4 on Wednesday against the Lakers). As it pertains to that 40 percent goal, the mindset he had in late September should not change.

Given the circumstances, that won't be easy on a nightly basis.

Follow @DrewShiller on Twitter and Instagram

Bettor to make $1M if Warriors turn season around, win 2020 NBA Finals

Bettor to make $1M if Warriors turn season around, win 2020 NBA Finals

The Warriors (2-10) own the worst record in the NBA.

Klay Thompson probably isn't going to suit up at all this season, and Steph Curry might not take the floor again until March.

But that didn't stop a certain someone from essentially lighting $1,000 on fire:

Why didn't this person wire the $1,000 to my bank account? Daycare for a 10-month old isn't cheap.

There literally are at least 1,000 ways that the $1,000 could have been better utilized.

Perhaps it was this guy who placed the bet:

[RELATEDWhy LeBron didn't win his rivalry with Warriors in any way]

Or maybe the bettor thought the wager was on the Warriors landing the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.

Got to read the fine print on those betting slips!

Follow @DrewShiller on Twitter and Instagram

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