OAKLAND — Early in November, after Stephen Curry nearly posted a triple double against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Draymond Green delivered one of the sound bites of the season.
Asked if Curry, the two-time MVP, was “peaking,” Green was mystified.
“Peaking?” he asked. “That’s just ridiculous to say, bro.”
Fast forward to the present and the peaking question doesn’t sound so ridiculous — at least according to head coach Steve Kerr.
“I think Steph’s right in his prime — physically, mentally, emotionally,” Kerr said after practice on Monday. “He’s the smartest he’s ever been in terms of his knowledge of his opponents and the league.”
On Monday, Curry earned Western Conference Player of the Week honors for the second time this season and the 12th time in his career. While propelling the Warriors to a 3-0 record, Curry averaged 35.3 points, 7.0 assists and 5.0 rebounds. He connected on 56.8 percent of his 3-pointers.
Kerr said Curry is playing with a level of confidence that few players ever achieve.
“He’s now seen every possible coverage over the last few years that people are throwing at him. He’s got the peace of mind that comes with being a multiple champion and MVP. So, in some ways, he’s playing with house money.”
Kerr didn’t quite use the word peaking but he got awfully close.
“There’s different stages of a player’s career. There’s the climb. There’s the apex and then there’s the descent,” Kerr explained. “And I feel like this is his apex where [there’s] nothing to prove, [you’re] on top of your game, feeling great and he should enjoy every bit of it.”
As January draws to a close, Curry’s MVP stock is soaring and the 3-pointers keep falling. Curry’s shooting 50.8 percent from distance over the past five games, pushing his season percentage to 43.0. During that five-game run, he’s knocked down at least five triples in each contest — the second time he’s accomplished that feat and one off the NBA record.
“I’m shooting 30 3’s next game,” Curry joked after Saturday night’s win over the Celtics when apprised of that stat.
In the win over the Eastern Conference leaders, Curry dropped 49 points and sank 8 3-pointers. Afterward he insisted it was just another night at the office.
“If I was in here shooting 10 percent the last five games, I’d say the same thing,” Curry said. “I really have the same mentality no matter what’s going on. And that’s obviously a huge part of my game.”
The magical performance against the Celtics — when Curry accounted for 13 of the final 15 points — helps explain why Kerr thinks his point guard is at the apex, even if the numbers say otherwise.
Sure, Curry had career highs in field-goal percentage, 3-point percentage and points in 2015-2016 — his unanimous MVP season — but that was a different time.
“What I think impresses me most about Steph is he knows that if we wanted to, we could play every game like we did last game,” Kerr said. “Put him in high screen every play. He could average 35 [points] a game. He really could.”
But as Kerr detailed, that would be detrimental to Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and the team at large.
“It wouldn’t be good for the flow of the game,” Kerr said. “It would feel more stagnant, which disrupts the rhythm of the players.
So, instead, Curry picks and chooses his spots to drop those 49-point barrages.
“His willingness not only to accept that [role], but to embrace it because of his desire for other people to succeed is fantastic.”