The NBA season is at the door, and Steph Curry already looks primed to show everyone that he is still the one who knocks. Don’t believe me? Then you probably didn’t stay up late Thursday night to watch what seemed to be a run-of-the-mill preseason game between the Warriors and the Wolves but actually became a flash point for what we may see this season. It’s OK, the 21st century is a wonderful place, and here are all the highlights you need to see:
Folks, spare me the “it’s just the preseason” caveats. Those may work for Ben Simmons’s lone 3-pointer, but just because this is a warmup game doesn’t mean that Steph scoring a ridiculous 40 points in 25 minutes doesn’t have meaning. This is Steph at his best: unstoppable, free-flowing, and tinged with just the right amount of arrogance. This is 2016 MVP Steph, and I can’t wait to see him put together a reminder tour all across the NBA this season.
On Thursday night, Curry hit all the familiar, necessary marks of one of his classic performances. Here are what I’m calling the Six Degrees of Steph Hype:
1. The No-Look Pass
Look at Jeff Teague. He is but a witness to this marvelous act, caught in no-man’s-land between the prospective dunker and Curry, who is just here to show us that his touch is still intact. I’m not saying the image of Curry flying through the air with his arm outstretched should be what his future statue in front of Chase Center will look like, but I’m not not saying that either.
2. Old Reliable
You know the drill: Curry comes off the screen, finds space, gets the ball, and barely brings it in before he’s already bending his legs and springing up to shoot it. That’s when the fundamentals stop and his greatness takes over. Look at the screenshot above. He’s already released the ball, but his follow-through is crooked. His legs are parallel to the basket—not in a good way—and he’ll come down off-balance. You think the ball so much as smelled the rim as it went through? Nope.
3. Rim Protector Killer
Imagine being 9 inches shorter than Karl-Anthony Towns and going right at the rim he’s protecting. Curry did this multiple times during this game, showing off his ability to transcend his limited height with elite finishing skills. This shot went right over Towns’s outstretched arms and bounced off the backboard into the hoop. I still think Curry’s skill near the rim is underrated.
4. The Messi Move
This is my personal favorite because, if you watch Curry warm up before a game (essentially a religious experience) he practices this exact shot: a leaning, midrange, off-balance, one-handed floater. (We need a better name for it.) It’s the type of move that forces all five opposing players on the floor to train their eyes and movements on him, and it reminds me of this:
5. Invisible Man
Spoiler alert: This shot didn’t go in, but can you even find Steph in the image above? Curry was hounded by two defenders well above the 3-point line, and he shamelessly pulled up anyway. Even though this shot didn’t fall, more often than not as defenders rush to close in, a whistle blows. Three tries at the free throw line, three more easy points. Get them how you can.
6. The Dagger
Oh boy. Poor Jake Layman. One second he thinks he’s on Curry like a glove, one second he’s lost track of where north is and what his last name sounds like. This is the Curry power move—the one that tips you off to the fact that it’s just going to be one of those nights. There’s no off-ball movement or screen that helps him get free. It’s just one-on-one, pure uncut skill, and the defender has no shot. This move doesn’t just break ankles, it shatters a team’s spirits.
And finally, here’s the cherry on top: the laugh-out-loud statistic that doubles as a Curry flex.
Stephen Curry's 40-point game tonight vs. Minnesota is the first 40-point game by an NBA player in the preseason since Stephen Curry scored 40 points on Oct. 8, 2017 at Minnesota.— Warriors PR (@WarriorsPR) October 11, 2019
This may have been a preseason game, but it was also a confirmation of what we have been guessing would happen all offseason. Without Kevin Durant (and Klay Thompson through February), the Warriors are going to need Curry to go supernova and have an MVPlike season. Let us all hope that he obliges and turns himself into the best one-man League Pass team in the NBA once again.