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Stephen Curry had one of his best offensive seasons while taking more difficult shots than ever.
Curry is such an efficient scorer that it's possible the Warriors would benefit from him taking tons of shots.
No one is holding Curry back from shooting an unprecedented number of shots if it's what the Warriors need.
The Golden State Warriors often won games this season when Stephen Curry scored a lot of points.
This won't strike many as breaking news: when a great player played well, his team won.
Curry averaged 32 points per game this season, a career-high. When he scored 33 points or more, the Warriors went 19-9, a win percentage that would translate to 55 wins in a typical season and would have placed them third in the West this season.
This year, playing on a short-handed Warriors squad, Curry had to do more. He also averaged career-highs in field goal and three-point attempts and usage rate.
Scoring was also harder for Curry because defenses could pay more attention to him with Klay Thompson sidelined. He took more shots out of isolation and had more unassisted three-pointers than in 2018-19, his last healthy season and when he also played alongside Kevin Durant and Thompson.
Yet Curry's efficiency didn't suffer from taking more difficult shots. His efficiency improved in some instances - Curry posted a better effective field goal percentage (a stat that weighs three-pointers with twos) on pull-up jumpers (on more attempts) this year than in 2018-19.
Curry was also more efficient than his teammates. He was the Warriors' most efficient player scoring in isolations, the pick-and-roll, and spot-up jumpers.
So while the Warriors winning games when Curry scored lots of points (and took lots of shots) isn't an unusual concept, it's worth asking: what if Curry shot more? What if Curry launched an unprecedented number of three-pointers per game? Would the Warriors be better for it?
The case for Curry taking 20-plus three-pointers per game
Curry is a game-warping offensive force. He creates and makes shots that other players wouldn't try.
So, if Curry launched shots at will, would his scoring output be so great that other teams would struggle to keep pace with the Warriors?
We've gotten a few glimpses of it. Curry has taken 20 or more three-points just five times in his career, and four of them came this season - the Warriors went 3-1 in those games. In NBA history, a player has only taken 20 or more threes 23 times, including Curry's five games.
Curry's personal trainer, Brandon Payne, believes Curry and the Warriors would benefit from Curry taking more shots.
"I'm a big proponent of it," Payne told Insider.
"I think that every shot he takes is a pretty good shot, a good play. And especially when he's shooting it as efficiently as he is this year."
A possession that ends with Curry shooting is more valuable than many other plays the Warriors could run. At a certain point, the expected points from Curry launching a step-back three (he shot 48% on 124 step-back three-point attempts this season) are greater than, say, a catch-and-shoot three for Andrew Wiggins, who shot 38% on 260 catch-and-shoot threes.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said while he doesn't think it would make sense to give Curry a minimum number of shots to take per game, he has made the message explicitly clear to the team: Curry should shoot a lot.
"Basically, Steph is allowed to shoot anytime he wants, and we encourage him to shoot as often as possible," Kerr said. "And that's been the case, really, since I've been here.
"We talked in the preseason, training camp with the whole team, and I told the group, I said, 'Steph should be shooting 20, 25 times every game and as many threes as possible.' And so, it's sort of inherently understood."
Kerr said he would prefer that Curry determine how often he shoots based on how the defense is guarding him rather than setting a target before the game.
Payne said that he and Curry haven't often discussed the idea of increasing Curry's three-point volume, but it remains in the back of Payne's mind.
He said preparing to shoot more wouldn't drastically change Curry's training. Curry is prepared to have to create and take more shots, if necessary. Payne said Curry has moves in his arsenal that he hasn't shown yet.
"There's a lot of things that we've worked on and some workouts that haven't quite had to make an appearance in the game yet, but I know they're in there in the event that he needs to pull them out," Payne said. "We're constantly trying to expand that."
The theory might soon be put to the test
The idea of Curry taking even more shots is particularly relevant as he and the Warriors prepare to take on the Memphis Grizzlies in the final game of the play-in tournament to make the playoffs.
In the Warriors' loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in the first play-in game, Curry scored 37 points and shot better than 50%, but he only took 23 total shots and 9 threes. The Lakers frequently sent double-teams at Curry, forcing him to give up the ball or shoot over multiple defenders.
But if you take out Curry's scoring from that game, the rest of the Warriors combined to shoot just 25-of-60 - 41.7%.
Curry forcing shots over defenses isn't such a bad proposition when he is capable of plays like this:
Payne spoke to Insider before the play-in games but said that Curry would do whatever it takes to win. If that requires launching a historic number of shots, Curry will do it.
"Ultimately, it's about winning and winning at an extremely high level, which I know is what he wants to do," Payne said. "And if ... him taking 20 threes ultimately leads to a more successful team and a more successful season, I think he'd absolutely do it."
Read the original article on Insider