Since Kevin Durant decided to join the Golden State Warriors in July of 2016, it hasn’t always been so easy for the franchises favorite son, Stephen Curry. Curry, the greatest shooter in NBA history and two-time Most Valuable Player (MVP), was for the most part riding high before Durant came into the picture; winning league MVP honors twice and splitting championships with LeBron in 2015 and 2016.
Curry was (and still remains) a feared sniper and highly respected, yet, the temperature around the greater half of the splash brother duo has shifted for the worse. Why is that?
While Curry has averaged 26.3 points, six assists and 4.9 rebounds during Durant’s time in East Oakland, it’s almost as if he has been relegated to a glorified Robin when in fact that assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. Many argue in favor of the Warriors being Durant’s team as he secured Finals MVP honors in back to back championship runs against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Durant’s reputation has escalated for going toe-to-toe with LeBron and Curry has been labeled an underachiever in the games biggest stage.
On that stage, in four separate appearances, Curry has averaged Over 25 points, six assists, and five rebounds. Still, there remains grave doubt Curry, and teammate Klay Thompson can lead the Warriors back from a 3-1 deficit against the Toronto Raptors. Outside opinions, however, don’t rattle the champions as they rely on their experience to overcome obstacles.
“I think they rely on their experience,” Livingston told reporters. “They’ve been doing it for a while. There’s no pressure being down, what, six points, two minutes left? At that point they’ve got 25, 30 points, so they take the shot. You trust them. They know they’re getting the ball. That’s just how we play, how they play.”
Arguments in favor of the Warriors needing Durant to secure championships are unfair to a nucleus of Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson. The more appropriate assertion is that Durant needed Golden State. Durant was the Oklahoma City Thunders (OKC) best player and surrendered a commanding 3-1 series lead against the Warriors in the 2016 Western Conference Finals and ultimately was defeated. Two months later, he would depart OKC for the Warriors.
Durant, even with his immense talent, didn’t know how to win. It’s fair to argue he would’ve reached the mountaintop with OKC point guard Russell Westbrook eventually, however, Durant’s actions prove that was a risk he wasn’t willing to take.
As Durant helped carry the Warriors to consecutive championships, he is now sidelined with a ruptured Achilles tendon. The pressure to perform is back where it all started in 2015 on the shoulders of Curry. While you’ll be hard to find a single soul celebrating the absence of Durant, the unfortunate injury presents an opportunity for Curry to leapfrog his way name into conversations more aligned with Jordan, James, Bryant, and Magic.
“We just kind of go out there and play,” Thompson said. “We’re very in tune with each other being that we’ve played with each other for years. So when we hit the open man — Steph doesn’t stop moving. Same for me. So it just comes down to having the chemistry we do with the team and just playing that ball movement type of basketball. I know Steph has been doing it for 10 years with this organization, and me eight. So we know what it’s like to take those, and we can live with the make or miss. It’s just what it comes down to.”
Magic lost four NBA finals, LeBron six, Kobe and Shaq two a piece. All is not lost should Curry ultimately fall short – but ponder for a moment what the legend of Curry will catapult to should he lead the Warriors to a miraculous championship, washing away the memory of 2016’s nightmare.