What’s Wrong With Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson?

Bryan Brandom
(Photo: Getty Images)

During the Golden State Warriors' unstoppable run to a record 73-win season in 2015-16, easily their most surprising loss came to a young, dsyfunctional Los Angeles Lakers team that blacked out and forgot who they were for three hours.

On Friday the Warriors, now armed with Kevin Durant, lost against to the Lakers, now armed with a bright future and former Dubs assistant Luke Walton running the show.

The game was marked by brilliance from Walton—giving 10 players anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes against a Warriors team that secured an emotional victory just a night before against the Oklahoma City Thunder—and big nights from some youngsters: 20 points, 14 rebounds for Julius Randle; D'Angelo Russell scored 17 on 5-of-11 shooting to go with four assists and one turnover; Larry Nance Jr. didn't miss a shot to score 12 points and grab nine rebounds; veteran bench scorer Lou Williams dropped 20 as well.

But the most crimson mark on the Warriors' unexpected loss was the play of Stephen Curry, who might have had his worst game in over two years and failed to make a three for the first time in 157 games.

Curry shot 5-of-17 from the field for 13 points and 11 assists. Klay Thompson, Curry's Spalsh Brother, was even worse, connecting on 4-of-18 shots for 10 points and four turnovers.

And it wasn't just Friday night. Curry and Thompson have taken a considerable statistical hit through the Warriors' 4-2 start.

Curry's 23.2 points per game would be his lowest mark in four seasons. His field goal percentage (44.3) and three-point percentage (35.2) would be the lowest of his career—the same goes for just about every advanced stat out there despite maintaing a usage rate similar to years prior. Thompson is even more lost, shooting 38.4 from the field and 19.6 from the field months after stating he wouldn't be "sacrificing sh*t" for the installment of Durant, who scored an efficient 27 points in the Friday night loss.

What gives? There's no clear answer yet, but lots of possibilities. Curry was fairly obvious not his full self in the 2015-16 playoffs, playing through a sore ankle and sprained knee ligament. So it's entirely possible he's either not fully healed, or hasn't gotten up to speed and confident on his legs.

It's more difficult to find an excuse for Thompson, who experienced a similar shooting slump during the Olympics before catching fire later in the tournament.

If there's a more lasting worry for the Warriors it's that they sorely miss what was the deepest bench in the NBA the two seasons prior. The losses of Marreese Speights, Leandro Barbosa, Andrew Bogut, Harrison Barnes, and Festus Ezeli have so far required the Warriors' Big 4—Curry, Thompson, Durant, and Draymond Green—to do more on both sides of the ball, particularly without a rim-protecting center to depend on. Stopper and play-maker Andre Iguodala has taken a clear step back at age 33, putting even more defensive pressure on Thompson.

And it's entirely possible we're making too much of a small sample size. We expected an acclimation process after the arrival of Durant, much like LeBron James and the Miami Heat experienced in 2010-11, when they started 9-8. That Heat team went on to win 58 games before falling to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals.

With so much talent on the roster, you can expect a similar turnaround from Golden State. The interesting part will be in seeing how they address any deficiencies, and what the team looks like and how it approaches the game once they do.


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