Connect with us

Uncategorized

Stephen Curry is in a shooting slump, but he can still turn a bad game into a great one at warp speed

Published

on


If you’ve watched Stephen Curry with any sort of frequency over the years, you know there have been plenty of instances in which he’s gone from having a bad game to not just a good game, but a great game, in the blink of an eye. He did it again on Saturday in Utah, lifting the Golden State Warriors — without Draymond Green — to an impressive 123-116 victory over an elite Jazz team that was at home and operating at pretty close to full strength. 

Collectively, the Warriors played inspired basketball from start to finish. Their defense was fantastic. Otto Porter Jr., who continues to look like one the league’s best under-the-radar offseason signings, and Andrew Wiggins combined for 45 points. Gary Payton II was typically terrific. Andre Iguodala balled off the bench. Rookie Jonathan Kuminga’s big potential becomes clearer every game. 

But for Curry personally — though his presence alone had its typical impact — the shots weren’t falling for the majority of the night, which has been the case for some time now. 

Advertisement

Entering the game, Curry was shooting 39.7 percent from 3 and 43.3 percent overall, both of which would go down as the lowest marks of his career by appreciable margins. For the month of December, his shooting percentage barely crested 40, which is, like, lower than Russell Westbrook territory. 

Theories abound as to what’s going on with Curry, who’s jacking 3s up at an NBA-record rate (13.5 per game). You’ll hear it argued that he’s facing tougher defense than ever, but I’m not sure that holds water when he won the scoring title and shot 42 percent from 3 last season while playing with a rag-tag supporting cast that demanded, and received, absolutely zero defensive respect. If he was ever going to be double- and triple-teamed out the wazoo, last season was it. 

That’s not to say he wasn’t consistently swarmed last season. He was. And he has been again this season. It’s only to say that being hounded by multiple defenders isn’t some new concept for Curry, and you’d be hard-pressed to find an extended stretch in which he has shot this poorly. 

Advertisement

That’s not just about his percentage, by the way. Curry has long been a surprisingly streaky shooter, as detailed in this 2013 Bleacher Report investigation. He’s no stranger to extended cold runs. But this season, so far at least, the misses feel different. Many of them are not just short or long; they’re way off. 

Personally, I think his shots, in general, are a bit more rushed this season because he’s not creating quite the same kind of separation from defenders (this speaks to his awful paint percentage, too), but that doesn’t explain the 34.4 percent he’s shooting on shots with the nearest defender at least four feet away, per NBA.com. That, again, would go down as his worst career mark by far. 

Advertisement

It’s early. But it’s not that early. We’re nearly halfway through the season. What we know is that Curry has always canceled out those aforementioned cold streaks with positively nuclear shooting stretches. He hasn’t done that so much on the whole this season, but the threat is always there. 

On Tuesday against Denver, Curry collected more turnovers than points in what was perhaps the worst first-half performance of his career. He missed his first seven 3-pointers before finally making one in the waning seconds of the third quarter. He went on to hit four more in the fourth quarter. It happens that quickly. 

On Saturday at Utah, Curry was just 5 for 14 from the field for 16 points through the first 42 minutes; pedestrian, at best, for a player of his caliber. He reentered the game with six minutes remaining and the Warriors down 101-98. He immediately hit a 30-footer to tie the score. He then gave the Warriors a two-point lead with a foul-line jumper with just under two minutes to play. 

A few seconds later, he did this:

Just like that, the game was over. Four stat-padding free throws later, you looked up and Curry had finished with 28 points on 6-of-12 3-point shooting, adding nine assists and six rebounds, and Utah’s six-game win streak was over. Once again, an average game, and that’s being generous, turned into a great one on the strength of three field goals, four free throws, two 3s and 12 points inside a six-minute stretch. 

Advertisement

I do find myself wondering whether the new Wilson ball is impacting his feel and thus his consistency, or if this really is just a random stretch of cold shooting, extended as it is. Either way, there is no evidence in Curry’s past that it will continue, and once the Warriors get Klay Thompson back, Curry’s inevitably going to get cleaner looks with another all-time shooter to distract defenses. 

Despite his struggles this season, Curry is hitting over 43 percent of his wide-open 3s (nearest defender at least six feet away), per NBA.com, and historically he and Thompson have both been near the top of the league in wide-open attempts because you can’t guard them both that tightly. 

Until then, it’s splendid news for the Warriors that they’re this good without Thompson and with Curry shooting this inconsistently. They’ve gone 5-1 against currently top-three-seeded teams in each league, defeating the Chicago Bulls, Brooklyn Nets, Phoenix Suns (twice) and now the Utah Jazz by a combined 78 points. When Curry’s percentages start to rise, and when Klay eventually gets his game legs under him, and when Draymond gets back on the court, and if James Wiseman can give them anything at all, this is a team that can absolutely win it all. 

But the first part of that is the key. When Curry’s percentages start to rise. Yes, he can still have these stretches that make the box score look good at the end. And yes, even at 39 percent from 3, his threat-level remains that of a nuclear attack waiting to happen. 

But there’s no guarantee Thompson is going to be the same player upon his return, and for as good as the Warriors are as a whole, they do lack individual creators. You can envision a postseason scenario in which their system is ground to a halt and Curry magic is the only ace left in their deck. 

Advertisement

So far this season, he hasn’t been able to cue up those video-game shots on call. He still hits plenty of them, as evidenced against Utah and on plenty of other occasions. But all told, he hasn’t really even been able to knock down regular ones all that consistently. I’m not saying that won’t change. I’m just saying that no matter how many regular-season games the Warriors win, I think it has to change if they are going to truly compete for a title. 



Source link

Advertisement

Uncategorized

Fantasy Football Rankings 2022: Busts from analytical model that called Julio Jones’ disappointing season

Published

on



Pittsburgh running back Najee Harris was one of the top Fantasy football breakouts last season, rushing for 1,667 yards on 381 carries during his rookie campaign. Harris has told multiple media outlets he is prepared for an even heavier workload this season despite leading the NFL in touches last year. Does his volume make him one of the safest 2022 Fantasy football picks? Harris will be one of the first players off the board in most 2022 Fantasy football rankings, but can you trust him in an unproven offense or will he become one of the biggest 2022 Fantasy football busts? As you begin your 2022 Fantasy football draft prep, be sure to check out the 2022 Fantasy football cheat sheets from the proven computer model at SportsLine.

Last year, SportsLine’s model accurately predicted that Titans wide receiver Julio Jones was being dramatically overvalued. He was being drafted around in the fifth round on average, but SportsLine predicted he wasn’t even close to being one of the top 20 wide receivers. Jones wound up turning in an incredibly disappointing stat line, catching 31 passes for 434 yards and one touchdown. 

The same model has a proven track record providing Fantasy football tips, also identifying A.J. Brown as a sleeper in 2020 and JuJu Smith-Schuster as Fantasy football bust last season. It also nailed Jonathan Taylor’s big season and was all over Jaylen Waddle to outperform his Fantasy football ADP. Additionally, it’s called past Fantasy football sleepers like Derrick Henry in 2019, Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara in 2018, and Davante Adams in 2017. Anybody who banked on players like those made a run at their league title.

Advertisement

The model is powered by the same people who generated projections for all three major Fantasy sites, and it beat human experts last season when there was a big difference in ranking. The projections update multiple times daily, so you’re always getting the best Fantasy football advice.

Now, SportsLine has simulated the entire NFL season 10,000 times and released its latest Fantasy football rankings 2022, along with plenty of sleepers, breakouts and busts. Head to SportsLine now to see them

Top 2022 Fantasy football busts

One of the 2022 Fantasy football busts the model is predicting: Cardinals running back James Conner. Arizona was happy with what it got out of Conner last season, re-signing him to a three-year, $21 million contract this offseason. He is being paid like a top-10 running back despite ranking outside the top 25 in rushing yards last year.

Conner is being overrated in Fantasy football drafts because he finished second in the NFL in rushing touchdowns (15) last season. Owners should be wary of drafting a player who is reliant on scoring touchdowns at a high rate, as there is plenty of variance. SportsLine’s model has Conner finishing behind Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey in production this season, even though both are available one round later, on average. 

Another bust that SportsLine’s Fantasy football rankings 2022 have identified: Commanders running back Antonio Gibson. He is coming off a solid season, finishing 10th in Fantasy points among running backs, which put him ahead of players like Nick Chubb and Dalvin Cook. Gibson set career-highs in most statistical categories, including carries and rushing yards.

Advertisement

There were disappointing signs as well, including the fact that Gibson scored fewer than 12 points in PPR leagues seven times. Washington’s backfield is going to be more crowded this year, as the team selected Brian Robinson in April’s draft. Gibson is being drafted before D’Andre Swift, Josh Jacobs and Elijah Mitchell, but that trio is projected to finish ahead of Gibson in SportsLine’s Fantasy football rankings 2022.

How to find proven 2022 Fantasy football rankings

SportsLine is also extremely low on a running back coming off the board in the third or fourth round on average of 2022 Fantasy football drafts. The model ranks him outside its top 24 running backs for 2022 and expects him to see major regression after a breakout season in 2021. You can only see who it is, and the 2022 Fantasy football rankings for every player, at SportsLine.

So which 2022 Fantasy Football breakouts should you be targeting? And which RB will fail to live up to expectations in 2022? Visit SportsLine now to get 2022 Fantasy Football cheat sheets for every single position, all from the model that told you to avoid Julio Jones in 2021, and find out.



Source link

Advertisement

Continue Reading

Uncategorized

NFL 2022: McCaffrey, Young, Ramsey among key players returning from injuries

Published

on




Christian McCaffrey and Chase Young are among NFL stars returning from injuries. Dr. Matt Provencher breaks down what to expect.



Source link

Continue Reading

Uncategorized

Why Kevin Durant’s ultimatum to the Nets requires just a one-word response from owner Joe Tsai

Published

on



Give Kevin Durant this much credit: The man isn’t afraid to go to the mattresses.

But let’s let the praise, awe or understanding end there. Durant’s move this week to reportedly sit with Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai and lay down a me-or-them ultimatum is the latest proof that the only thing Durant may excel at more than basketball is an uncanny knack for turning tone deafness into an art form.

He’s a diva-may-care. And Tsai has to tell the man the same word Nets general manager Sean Marks did, as we suggested here when news of Durant’s trade demand first surfaced, the word that has led to all this huffing and puffing to blow Tsai’s team down: No.

Advertisement

No, Kevin, you’re not in charge.

No, Kevin, we won’t blow up our team, or trade you, or — cue Durant’s latest would-be power play — fire all the adults in the room because they didn’t treat your tantrum like the world’s most sagacious reaction to difficulty. 

Let’s hone in on why, in London, Durant reportedly told the Nets owner he must either trade him — or fire head coach Steve Nash and Marks.

It’s not, as Shams Charania reported for The Athletic, because Durant is “transparent and professional,” the description of the supposed mood of the high-powered confab. This is all happening, including the timing and tone of this news story, because Durant has too often made a habit of being neither transparent nor professional.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to read this piece from Charania, a world-class NBA newsbreaker who himself has been transparent at times about his willingness to carry water for the sources who allow him to offer such accurate and valuable information, and deduce that Durant or those near him leaked the reporting in exchange for casting all this in a favorable light.

Advertisement

Thus, KD’s latest me-me-me-me move gets sold as an above-the-board powerbroker handling such difficulties with aplomb and maturity. Don’t buy it for a second.

Strip away the quid-pro-quo that is the heartbeat of breaking sports news, and “does not have faith in the team’s direction” actually translates to: Didn’t do my bidding.

As in: Durant demanded a trade, Marks said no, and the superstar, unaccustomed to that word, has responded with a next-level move. The choice now that it’s either him or them. Despite the details that, you know, exactly one year before the Tasi meeting, Durant signed a four-year, $198 million contract extension.

Durant isn’t just saying keep me or keep them. He’s saying, regardless of how newsbreakers try to present his latest diva-demand, either trade him — or make him the boss.

Look, Durant is a basketball player of otherworldly talent and dedication. His talent borders on the miraculous, and his love for the game is clear. He is also, when not going full diva, by all accounts a great guy. Human beings are complicated, and we can be many things at once: Talented, dedicated, hungry, kind, interesting, insightful, and full of petty grievances and insecurities. 

Advertisement

None of this is to say Durant is a bad person, as if that has any place in a sports column. It’s to say that many all-time great players are remarkably awful string-pullers and would-be GMs. Look westward, Tsai, to the Los Angeles Lakers and one LeBron James for a real-world, real-time reminder.

Trade Durant (for the right price), or don’t. Believe in him, or decide you’ve had enough. But don’t allow Durant to burn everything down because last year was tough. Don’t let him hold you hostage because he didn’t get his way in demanding a trade that would devastate the Nets without a fair return. Don’t let him end the run of Marks, who has proven himself a great general manager, nor that of a Hall of Fame player in Nash who deserves more time to show what he can or can’t do as a head coach.

This is scorched-earth stuff. Things went bad, let me leave. You won’t just give me away, fire everyone. You won’t fire everyone, fine, time for the public-news-bomb-pressure campaign. 

That’s the other part of this.

It’s beyond credulity to entertain the idea that Tsai or those around him leaked this news. There’s no need. The Nets owner doesn’t need to leverage himself by leaking a blockbuster bit of news in order to pressure himself. He’s the decision maker. So if this report from Shams came from Durant and the people around him — as seems quite clear, especially given the rosy presentation of Durant’s end of things — then KD went in 24 hours, straight from asking Tasi to fire Nash and Marks, to trying to publicly pressure Tasi to do it.

Advertisement

That’s a tantrum. Or hardball. Or both. But either way, it’s bad business, and there remains one word in response, either to trading a generational talent like KD for less than what you want in return, or in firing the GM who won’t do so, along with his hand-picked head coach:

No. 

No, Kevin.

No.

Advertisement



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending