It has been known for a while now that Stephen Curry is the greatest shooter of all time, but ever since he officially became the greatest shooter of all time, he has been anything but.
Over the first quarter of the season, Curry looked like he was turning back the clocks to his immortal, unanimous MVP self. The superstar guard had the Warriors out to the best record in the NBA, and he was putting up numbers that made him a clear early-season favorite to win MVP.
Through the first 24 games, Curry was averaging 27.7 points while shooting 43.9 percent from the field and a blistering 41.6 percent from 3-point range on 13.2 (!) attempts per game. As a result, the Warriors owned a 20-4 record, rolling over teams behind the play of their All-Star guard.
Then, the magnifying glass began to hover over each and every one of Curry’s games as the marksmen drew closer to passing Ray Allen’s record for the most 3-pointers made in NBA history.
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The game that sticks out was the Warriors’ Dec. 8 matchup against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Curry was 16 3-pointers away from passing Allen and even though the all-time record for 3s in a game is 14 (shoutout to Curry’s Splash Brother, Klay Thompson), there was a buzz around this contest as if Steph would break two historic records in the same night.
I think it’s a credit to just how remarkable Curry is as a shooter. He was in hot pursuit of the all-time record and while he needed to do something no one has ever done before in the history of the game, people started to expect the unexpected and assume Curry could make it happen. Head coach Steve Kerr even signed off on the idea of Curry burying 16 3s in a game to re-write the record books.
“Absolutely… he’s Steph Curry, so anything is possible,” Kerr stated on the subject leading into that contest.
The result? Curry jacked up 17 3s, only knocking down six of them to put himself 10 3-pointers away from the record. Curry needed three more games after that contest to break the record, eventually doing so at Madison Square Garden against the Knicks six days later.
MORE: Inside Stephen Curry’s path to becoming the greatest shooter of all-time
Once he became the NBA’s all-time 3-point leader, he admitted he was relieved the circus surrounding the milestone was over, but his shooting woes have stuck with him since then.
|Before the breaking record||26||27.0||8.8-20.3||5.4-13.4||43.2||40.1|
|After breaking the record||18||24.3||7.8-19.7||3.9-11.5||39.7||33.8|
Over his last 18 games, Curry has seen his field goal percentage dip just below 40 and his 3-point percentage drop nearly eight percentage points compared to how he was shooting before breaking the record.
If you’re more of a visual learner, his 3-point shot charts side-by-side before (left) and after (right) explain everything.
Where green means above league average, yellow means average and red means below league average, Curry has dipped well below par since taking the NBA’s 3-point shooting crown. As a result, his season-long percentages are both at career-worst marks (aside from the 2019-20 season where he only played five games), shooting 41.8 percent from the field and 37.7 percent from 3.
To be clear, 37.3 percent from 3 is not bad by any means, especially on the volume he’s shooting. But it goes without saying that there is a different standard for the greatest shooter the game has ever seen.
As we all well-know, the internet is undefeated, and someone mentioned Curry’s recent shoot performances look more like tour dates, which got me good for a laugh.
Steph Curry’s shooting number this season look like tour dates 😭 pic.twitter.com/oXrGBwzkZh
— NBA SKITS (@NBA_Skits) January 24, 2023
Just four games ago, Curry was amidst another poor shooting night when he snapped out of his funk for a brief moment to play hero, knocking down a game-winning shot to beat the Rockets. And while you would think that could have been a turning point to get back on track, he shot a combined 12-for-36 from the field and 3-for-23 from 3 over the next two games following the clutch game-winning bucket .
Is he really just in this bad of a spell? Or is there an injury involved?
According to The Athletic’s Anthony Slater, Curry has been dealing with a nagging hand and finger injury, although Slater said Curry himself won’t outright admit that.
“He landed on his shooting hand hard in Chicago (Jan. 14) and then missed a game. Then in the first game of the homestand (Jan. 18 vs. DET), he jammed his left middle finger pretty hard, had to leave the game briefly, and he’s had to have it taped,” Slater said on the Warriors Plus Minus podcast.
He went on to explain that he’s seen Curry fidgeting with his hand and finger during pregame shootarounds and that the star guard doesn’t appear to be 100 percent even though he is continuing to play through the injury, which could be a root of his shooting struggles.
However, despite Curry’s cold streak, the Warriors have continued to churn out wins, going 13-5 over his poor 18-game stretch to own a 36-13 overall record, good for second-best in the West and the NBA as a whole . Another good sign? He played well in Golden State’s last outing, leading the Warriors to their fourth straight win with 29 points on 10-for-20 shooting from the field and 6-for-10 from 3-point range.
Curry getting back to his MVP form could be the difference between the Warriors being a championship team or not, so he’ll have to channel the version of himself who was mindlessly chasing the 3-point record earlier on this season to get back on the rightpath.