As the Cinderella story that is Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors continues to unfold, the pesky villain that seems to haunt all fairy tales appears to have made its dramatic appearance in this one: fatigue.
The Warriors, now winners of their 10th straight game—the last six on the road—have proved to be a force in the league to this point. What remains to be seen, however, is how long they can maintain this particular type of dominance.
Signs of cracking have already started to show, particularly in newly crowned superstar Curry. As the wins have piled up, so too have the poor showings. The counting statistics continue to remain superb, as over the last 10 games he’s amassed averages of 18.6 points, 10 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game.
It’s the shooting and turnovers that have become a problem. For a player renowned for his shooting prowess, that could become a deeper issue going forward.
Curry’s field-goal percentage has plummeted to just .381 over the winning streak and his turnovers have continued to steadily rise—4.5 to be exact.
This could easily be written off as just a small roadblock in what has otherwise been a sensational season. That would be unwise, however, and head coach Mark Jackson would be foolish to treat is as such.
The minutes must decrease if he hopes to have anything left from Curry in the postseason. Curry is still young and the options the Warriors have backing him up aren’t particularly enticing. That has led to big minutes from Curry, with his 37.4 ranking him eighth in the league.
For a player with a history of ankle injuries that stretches for miles, it will eventually take its toll. The toll might have already started if those shooting percentages continue to waver.
The turnovers could be the biggest red flag of all. With so many scoring options available at his disposal, the type of sloppiness that he has exhibited is alarming. With the amount of flair and thrills he provides on a nightly basis, a few passes are sure to be picked off throughout the course of the game.
Leading the league in turnovers is not the same as a few turnovers for the sake of flair, though. And with his 139 for the season being 16 more than the next guy on the list, the rewards become less and less.
Curry’s 9.5 assists per game rank him second in the NBA, behind only Chris Paul. The problem, however, is that while Paul also ranks first in the NBA in assist-to-turnover ratio at 4.47, Curry is nowhere to be found. He’s way down at 37th, with just a 2.21 ratio.
As brilliant as Curry is at creating points for his teammates, he’s also shown an uncanny ability to spark the other team’s offense as well. If that problem isn’t rectified when the playoffs roll around, experienced teams like the San Antonio Spurs—who just happened to knock them out last year—are sure to feast on his mistakes.
The fatigue has been evident in the last few games. His legs appear to be heavier and the results have shown in his shooting. Jackson must find a way to decrease the minutes of his star, and he does have a few options.
Toney Douglas has proved to be a competent backup and is perfectly capable of picking up a few extra minutes. The ball handling of Andre Iguodala also provides even more opportunity to give Curry a breather during the game.
Regardless of the route that Jackson chooses to go, the fact remains that if Curry’s minutes don’t go down, his play will.
Just three games into the season, Jackson recognized that the turnovers could become a problem and he called out Curry for them, courtesy of ESPN.com: "He understands that he has to be better. He understands that if we are going to achieve our vision, he's got to take care of the basketball."
Curry must do his part to be better, but so does Jackson. That all starts with not asking for more than is necessary from his star. If Curry is to have anything left for the homestretch, Jackson must finally start treating the regular season like a marathon and not an all-out sprint.
All stats courtesy of ESPN.com