NBA PM: Curry Hopes To Stay With Warriors
The NBA has been a tough road for Steph Curry to this point. We’ve seen his amazing potential at times, but injuries have prevented him from emerging as the star some believe him to be. His ankle, in particular, has hobbled his ability to really grow as a player the way most young point guards do early in their careers.
Undaunted, Curry is busily preparing for what he hopes will be his NBA coming out party as he looks to lead the Golden State Warriors back to the playoffs.
“I’m doing great,” Curry told 95.7 The Game in San Francisco during a recent interview. “Just had my last check-up with my doctor out in L.A. and he gave me the all clear to go out and resume activities with no restrictions and good news for me. I had a long summer of rehab and ready to keep plugging away before training camp starts in a couple of weeks. Feeling great.”
Normally a young player is working on improving and expanding his game during the offseason, but over the last two summers he’s been working himself back into shape following injuries and surgeries instead of just working to get better. He hopes to end that cycle this season.
“I think after my first year I didn’t have any injuries so I think you saw the progression I had from my rookie year to my second year,” said Curry. “Obviously, I’ve had a few straight summers of pretty severe surgeries, so it kind of puts you behind a little bit with your schedule during the offseason. Last year we had a lockout, so I had a little bit of extra time to work on my game after I got back to 100 percent, but I haven’t been fully able to take advantage of the time we have had off and work on my game and get better. I’ve done alright with what I’ve had and hopefully all this injury stuff is behind me and I can continue that mission. You can work on other aspects like watching film and your mind but skill-wise it puts a little damper to it.”
The Warriors acquired Andrew Bogut last year, but due to an injury he has yet to play for Golden State. Curry believes that Bogut will turn out to be a huge addition for the team when he makes his debut this season.
“It’s a big pick-up,” said Curry. “Size-wise just having that body down low to anchor us on defense and obviously we don’t want to put too much pressure on him from a perimeter standpoint, but knowing that you have that line of defense with him and David Lee down low, clogging the paint up and meeting guys at the rim and making it tough for guys to finish, that makes our defense that much better. He could be one of the best passing big men in the league, too, so our ball movement will be something to watch this year. Obviously, he has a back-to-the-basket game, as well, so he’s just very versatile for us and with the pieces we have around him I think that’s him making us look good and we’ll do the same for him. Just the threats he has on the wing can give him space to do his damage down low.”
Curry has also spent some time watching Warriors draftee Harrison Barnes, and is impressed with what he’s seeing.
“I’ve seen all five summer league games and I’ve seen him work out here in Oakland since I’ve been back,” said Curry. “He’s been putting the time in. He had a great showing in summer league and showed he can really shoot the ball. He’s a long, athletic body who can attack the rim. We’re looking for big things out of him and know he will have an opportunity to come in and compete with Brandon Rush at that spot and see who is going to get the bulk of those minutes, but both of those guys are going to have huge roles on our team for us to be good and I think it will be a healthy competition and Harrison is ready for it.”
The Warriors have made some key additions and look pretty deep and talented headed into the 2012-13 NBA season, but every team needs one player to step up as the vocal leader and Curry accepts and relishes that role.
“I would say myself, being that vocal point guard leader on the floor is going to be huge for us,” said Curry. “We do have a lot of new guys on the floor and on our roster that are going to be contributing, so just me being Coach Jackson’s extension on the court and being as vocal as I can to make sure everyone is on the same page and really execute our offensive and defensive schemes as best we can and I think that will start with me. We have a lot of guys who are going to lead by example this year, with just how hard they work and how much effort they put in every single night. I think that’s starting right now. We’re seeing a big change in how guys are preparing for training camp. We have pretty much the whole squad in town, working out together, building our camaraderie, and some of the veterans like Bogut, D Lee and Jarrett Jack are taking that leadership by making sure everyone is in the gym every opportunity we have even before training camp starts, so culture is changing a lot and I think everyone has a part in it, too.”
Of course, basketball is a business, and the Warriors have an opportunity to extend Curry before the season gets into full swing. It’s something of a tough call given the persistent injuries, but Curry is hopeful that he will be a Warrior for a long time.
“I’ve left most of that to my agent,” admitted Curry. “I’m sure they have talked about it before, but nothing happened yet. We’re just kind of letting training camp play out and any deal we can make before the deadline would be great. I would love to stay out here in Golden State and be a part of the future. That’s definitely high on my priority list right now but the only thing I can control is getting healthy and getting ready for training camp and letting those guys do their job.”
The Age Factor In NBA Championships
There’s something to the idea that veteran teams tend to be more successful in postseason play. After all, the veterans have been through the wars, they’ve been in tough situations they had to fight through and they have learned the ultimate lessons that can only come from heartbreaking losses.
Take, for instance, the defending NBA champions from Miami. They were the prohibitive favorites to win the championship in 2011, especially when they ran up against an older team from Dallas in the Finals. When the dust settled, however, the older, perhaps wiser, certainly hungrier Mavericks came out victorious. Maybe it was because the Mavericks knew the clock was ticking. Jason Kidd, Jason Terry and Dirk Nowitzki had been to the Finals before and had lost, and then struggled to get back to the Finals again. They, in particular, had an acute appreciation for the moment, and knew that their chances to earn championship rings before retirement were shrinking.
That hunger and the cumulative experience of Dallas’ older core led directly to the Mavericks winning the first championship in franchise history two seasons ago.
Losing to the Mavericks hit HEAT star LeBron James hard. He did some soul searching, even sought out retired superstar Hakeem Olajuwon to help him expand his already-impressive game in an effort to win a championship after two Finals losses, first in Cleveland and then in Miami. In each case, LeBron was turned back by an older, more veteran team. It was the San Antonio Spurs who denied his Cavaliers and the aforementioned Mavs the second time around with Miami.
But LeBron came back a more experienced, hungrier player, and as a result he lead the HEAT to their second championship as a franchise, their first with the core group of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
It is in this context that we come across this graph about the average ages of past NBA championship teams, tweeted out today by MSG’s Alan Hahn:As the graph shows, the vast majority of past NBA championship teams had an average age of 27 or above among rotation players. In fact, since 2000, only two NBA champions have been crowned who didn’t have an average age of at least 28 amongst their rotation players.
It’s a telling stat, and one that should give Oklahoma City Thunder fans reason to hope that their team still has plenty of room to grow. Kevin Durant will turn 24 later this month, Russell Westbrook will celebrate his 24th birthday in November, and James Harden turned 23 last month. Despite their youth, OKC’s core group has already been through the ringer together, losing in a hard-fought first round, then losing to the Mavs in the Western Conference Finals and most recently losing to the HEAT in the big dance last June. The Thunder would love to see a blue curve on another version of our chart that stretches out over the next 5-10 years, like the Lakers’ purple curve from the early 80′s, Boston’s two green curves and Chicago’s Michael Jordan-driven curve through the 90′s.
Before the Thunder can get back to the Finals, though, they will have to once again push their way through teams that fit the championship curve model more fully. The San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, Boston Celtics and Miami HEAT are loaded with veteran players who are hungry and driven to win before their windows close.
As history shows, that is the most likely pool from which the 2013 NBA champions will emerge.
Injuries Already A Factor
It’s unfortunate, but very often how a team comes out of the gates to start a new season can often be determined by a factor that’s completely out of their control.
The injury factor.
We already know that Derrick Rose will be out of action for the Chicago Bulls, and that Dwight Howard’s status with the Los Angeles Lakers is still very much “To Be Determined.” More recently, though, injuries have surfaced that could be cause for concern going forward.
Kendrick Perkins is not yet ready to return from a wrist injury, and could miss all of preseason play for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Danny Granger is going to miss at least some preseason action in the aftermath of a minor knee injury that caused him to need an injection. In Washington, the Wizards are saying Nene will miss all of preseason as they take the cautious approach to his ongoing issue with plantar fasciitis.
The latest injury news comes from the Memphis Grizzlies. Darrell Arthur has a leg fracture and won’t be ready for the start of training camp. Arthur suffered the injury in a pick-up game on Saturday, and while there is no timetable for his return, training camp is at least in jeopardy. Arthur’s fracture is a hairline fracture – he won’t be booted or anything. He’ll likely back before preseason. This comes on the heels of Arthur missing all of last season due to an ACL tear, which didn’t keep the team from inking him to a fresh three-year, $9 million contract in July.
Injuries are a part of the game, but not a part we enjoy seeing play out. All of the players in today’s injury report are significant pieces in their respective teams’ plans for the upcoming season. Hopefully they will all be able to get back to the court before their absences start to derail their teams’ hopes for 2012-13.
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