Maybe this should act as a public-service announcement to the rest of the NBA: Stephen Curry and Draymond Green are “ready to compete again.”
After a 2019-20 season in which injuries restricted Curry to five games and caused Green to play inconsistently for the rest of them, the Warriors’ mainstays reported to camp Tuesday frothing at the idea of getting back on the court.
“They are basketball players. They love to play. They’re competitors. They’ve had a long time off. I think they’re ready to compete again,” head coach Steve Kerr said. “There is work ahead, but there’s an excitement for competing again from those two guys.”
Curry and Green were the nucleus of the Warriors’ dynastic run from 2015 through ’19, with Curry winning two MVP awards and Green being named the Defensive Player of the Year during five straight trips to the NBA Finals.
Last season, however, Curry joined Klay Thompson on the sideline with a broken left hand in just the Warriors’ fourth game of the season. Without the backcourt that made good on his precise pick-and-roll play, Green was a shadow of himself through a season in which the Warriors had the worst record in the league.
Curry returned for 27 minutes, only to get hurt again after a five-month break. All along, Green shot 38.9% from the floor and 27.9% from 3-point range — the worst numbers since his rookie season — and wasn’t close to the player who used to anchor the best defense in the league.
Curry and Green have gotten accustomed to producing in certain marquee games during deep runs toward, and into, the playoffs, but with Thompson out again because of last month’s Achilles injury, it could be easy to slip back into last season’s mode of going through the motions when a championship is a long shot.
Kerr says Curry and Green won’t do that this time.
“I think it’ll be easier than last year,” he said. “Last year was difficult for a number of reasons. The injuries were really difficult, but so was the rebound off five straight years of emotional, deep runs. I feel like Steph and Draymond are going to have great years for us.”
If they do it, they’ll likely do it together.
Kerr said he hopes to keep Curry at his typical 34 minutes per night, and he and Green often will be on the court at the same time. Though it might make some sense to toggle minutes between Curry and Green, the two are so good in pick-and-roll plays that they need to play together.
Even when they had Kevin Durant’s once-in-a-lifetime one-on-one ability, the Warriors often would rely on the Curry and Green pick-and-roll during key times.
Given a millisecond to shoot, Curry would make defenses pay with three points. Challenged to be a playmaker in a 4-on-3 situation, Green would pick apart opponents.
“Our bread and butter is the Steph and Draymond pick-and-roll,” Kerr said. “Part of what makes Draymond special is his pairing with Steph offensively and how well they complement one another on pick-and-rolls.
“I think they’re such a dynamic pair.”
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