Warriors

Why Steph Curry's return means just as much to NBA as it does Warriors

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AP

Why Steph Curry's return means just as much to NBA as it does Warriors

The expectation is that Saturday will bring one giant lineup change for the Warriors, one massive boost for the NBA.

Stephen Curry's anticipated return after an 11-game absence with a groin injury immediately lifts the mood of the Warriors, who are coming off that rarest of nights inasmuch as they could walk out of Scotiabank Arena encouraged by their showing in a 131-128 loss at Toronto.

After an unsightly first quarter, the Warriors spent the next 41 minutes outplaying the deeper, healthier Raptors. They did so without Curry or, for that matter, Draymond Green.

So there will be a bit more air under their sneakers when Curry steps onto the court in Detroit. The Warriors without Curry are incomplete, not just because of his skills but mostly because they are built to accentuate them. He’s the hub around which they thrive.

Kevin Durant can be marvelous with or without Curry, but Klay Thompson and the rest of the Warriors rarely unveil the best of themselves unless Curry is on the court. The Warriors are 10-1 this season when Curry is available from start to finish, 5-7 when he is not.

Moreover, the joy factor exponentially increases when Curry is out there shooting and swishing and shimmying. The sight of this relatively ordinary specimen sending much bigger players into silent surrender is an intoxicant for the Warriors and their fans. Curry in many ways is their magic pill.

“Everything gets better,” coach Steve Kerr says. “Food tastes better, (reporters’) questions get better. We’ve been looking forward to getting him back.”

But Curry’s return is bigger than that. He’s also a tonic for the league.

In these three weeks without the two-time MVP, three players posted games of more than 50 points. Durant hung 51 on Toronto two days ago, and LeBron James scored 51 in a Lakers win at Miami 10 days before that, which was one day before Charlotte’s Kemba Walker poured in 60 in a loss to Philadelphia.

Each did his work with the cool, composed proficiency of a surgeon. Which is fine. That’s what most stars do.

Curry is different. Each time he goes off, his response is an animated glee that’s almost childlike. He is that most human of superstars, which is why the vast majority of fans ages 6 to 96, casual or committed, can find themselves charmed to full grin by his performances.

No NBA athlete has a larger contingent of fans at every arena, lining up 20- and 30-deep hoping for a glimpse, if not an autograph. This crazy popularity is why his jersey sales consistently rank No. 1, why he was voted to be the captain of the Western Conference All-Star team and why 9-year-old girls feel comfortable enough to write letters asking for his help -- and actually get it.

Many great athletes are respected and admired, their performances savored, but who besides Curry is so irresistibly enjoyed?

[RELATED: Where the Warriors sit in the NBA power rankings]

Sports history is rich with stories of athletes who pass our way, dynamic performers wrapped in magnetism unique to them. Some 21st-century standouts, like golf’s Tiger Woods, endure. Others, like MLB’s Dontrelle Willis and Tim Lincecum, do not. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the NFL’s man of the moment, is bringing a lot of this energy in his first season as a starter.

Curry, though, is that time-tested comet that keeps coming back, game after game, year after year, providing more “wow” moments, each time as thrilling if not more than the time before.

Sure, the Warriors want him back because he greatly increases their chances of winning basketball games. Curry puts a smile on the faces of Kerr and general manager Bob Myers, as well as their assistants, and teammates from Durant to rookie Jacob Evans III.

But Curry makes them dance in the NBA’s New York offices. He’ll be on the court Saturday, so commissioner Adam Silver should sleep well. The league is going back to its happy place.

NBA draft results live: 2019 picks, trades during first, second rounds

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USATSI

NBA draft results live: 2019 picks, trades during first, second rounds

It's NBA draft day!

The Warriors hold the Nos. 28 and 58 overall picks in the 2019 NBA Draft, which begins at 4 p.m. PT on ESPN. The Kings don't own a first-round pick, but they hold three selections -- Nos. 40, 47 and 60 overall -- in the second round.

The draft presents the best avenue for teams to add young, affordable talent, and both Golden State and Sacramento have plenty at stake Thursday.

With so much uncertainty surrounding the Warriors, particularly because of Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson's injuries, the Dubs need to address their roster with players who can help fill the void. Considering how many high-salaried players the Warriors have, hitting on draft picks is imperative to their future success.

The Kings narrowly missed the playoffs last season, and they're counting on the prospects they acquire in the draft to help push them over the top and secure the franchise's first playoff berth since 2006.

Duke star Zion Williamson is widely expected to be picked No. 1 overall by the New Orleans Pelicans, but you can follow each selection live, as they're made, in the 2019 NBA Draft tracker below:

First round

1. New Orleans

2. Memphis

3. New York

4. New Orleans (from Los Angeles Lakers)

5. Cleveland

6. Phoenix

7. Chicago

8. Atlanta

9. Washington

10. Atlanta (from Dallas)

11. Minnesota

12. Charlotte

13. Miami

14. Boston (from Sacramento via Philadelphia)

15. Detroit

16. Orlando

17. Brooklyn

18. Indiana

19. San Antonio

20. Boston (from LA Clippers via Memphis)

21. Oklahoma City

22. Boston

23. Memphis (from Utah)

24. Philadelphia

25. Portland

26. Cleveland (from Houston)

27. Brooklyn (from Denver)

28. Golden State

29. San Antonio (from Toronto)

30. Detroit (from Milwaukee)

Second round

31. Brooklyn (from New York via Philadelphia)

32. Phoenix

33. Philadelphia (from Cleveland via Orlando and New York)

34. Philadelphia (from Chicago via Los Angeles Lakers)

35. Atlanta

36. Charlotte (from Washington via Orlando, Denver and Atlanta)

37. Dallas

38. Chicago (from Memphis)

39. New Orleans

40. Sacramento (from Minnesota via Portland and Cleveland)

41. Atlanta (from Los Angeles Lakers via Cleveland and Indiana)

42. Philadelphia (from Sacramento via Brooklyn and Milwaukee)

43. Minnesota (from Miami via Charlotte)

44. Miami (from Atlanta via Charlotte)

45. Detroit

46. Orlando (from Brooklyn via Memphis and Charlotte)

47. Sacramento (from Orlando via New York)

48. LA Clippers

49. San Antonio

50. Indiana

51. Boston

52. Charlotte (from Oklahoma City)

53. Utah

54. Philadelphia

55. New York (from Houston)

56. LA Clippers (from Portland via Detroit and Orlando)

57. New Orleans (from Denver via Milwaukee)

58. Golden State

59. Toronto

60. Sacramento (from Milwaukee)

NBA rumors: Nets debate signing Kyrie Irving if Kevin Durant not in tow

NBA rumors: Nets debate signing Kyrie Irving if Kevin Durant not in tow

There was a development Wednesday night in the "Kyrie Irving to the Brooklyn Nets" narrative that certainly will be of interest to Warriors fans.

Why?

Because it involves Kevin Durant.

Brian Lewis of the New York Post has the details:

The question is if they can’t land Durant, do they still want Irving? Especially if they have to lose D’Angelo Russell — their own 23-year-old homegrown All-Star — to get him?  

It’s a question that has turned into a civil war among the fan base. It also has become an internal debate the Nets are having right now.  

The Post has confirmed Brooklyn might have qualms about signing the enigmatic Irving if he isn’t bringing the injured Durant with him.

Hmmmmmm. 

Last week, Brian Bulpett of the Boston Herald reported that Kyrie is prepared to sign with the Nets in free agency.

Then on Tuesday, there was more smoke:

The latest news makes you wonder if the Nets have learned that KD is not going to sign with Brooklyn. If that is in fact true, perhaps they are going to pull out of the Kyrie sweepstakes altogether.

That certainly would be a crazy twist and would have a pretty big domino effect.

Would Kyrie consider going back to the Celtics? What about a reunion with LeBron James on the Lakers? Is a Kyrie-KD duo with the Knicks still a possibility?

The Warriors -- like everybody else -- are completely in the dark when it comes to Durant's plans. It's only been a week since the two-time NBA Finals MVP underwent surgery on his ruptured right Achilles, and the 10-time All-Star most likely needs some extra time to figure out his future.

[RELATEDMyers says Klay hasn't had surgery yet on his torn ACL]

That is completely understandable given what he is going through, and what lies ahead for KD when it comes to rehab.

As for news that pertains to Kyrie, you should expect the next couple of weeks to be quite the roller coaster.

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