Warriors’ Steph Curry on Pace to Shatter NBA Record

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Getty Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry warms up prior to the team's 2021-2022 season-opener against the Los Angeles Lakers on October 21, 2021.

It is still early, but Steph Curry is on pace to accomplish something no shooter in the history of the NBA has ever done — including himself.

The Golden State Warriors are leading the league with a win/loss record of 12-2. They are doing so without the help of All-Star shooting guard Klay Thompson or second-year center James Wiseman, both of whom are set to return in the coming months and both of whom will likely end up in the Dubs’ starting lineup before too long.

So how is Golden State achieving so much success? There are several answers: They are playing great defense, they are rebounding the ball with tremendous effort, they are insanely deep and getting meaningful contributions from young and/or new members of their roster.

These are all great answers, and they are all part of the equation. But the best answer remains the most obvious one — the play of Curry. His offensive production this season, specifically the historic effort he’s putting forth behind the 3-point line now 14 games in, has kept the Warriors front running in the Western Conference and could keep them ahead of the pack for the rest of the season.


Curry on Pace to Break Single Season 3-Point Record

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GettyGolden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry during the team’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers on October 21, 2021.

Curry is shooting, and making, 3-pointers at a historic pace in the team’s early going.

Tim Kawakami, of The Athletic, outlined Curry’s current trajectory in a Twitter post on Wednesday, November 17.

“Hey, Steph Curry just nudged over 40% from 3-point distance for the season (now 40.6%). Knew this up-and-comer could somehow manage it,” Kawakami wrote online. “Also, if he plays 80 games, he’s on pace to make 432 3s. Hey Steph, why not go for 450?”

The NBA record for 3-pointers made in a single season is 402, per Basketball Reference. Those shots were made by, you guessed it, Curry himself in 2015-16. James Harden, now of the Brooklyn Nets, is second on the list with the 378 3-pointers he drained while a member of the Houston Rockets back in 2018-19.

Curry has the next three highest totals, including 337 made 3-pointers during last year’s abbreviated campaign. That tally is good enough for fourth place, and the season was shortened by 10 games.

The temporary exception of Tom Brady notwithstanding, Father Time remains undefeated in the world of sports, or the world of anything really, and it may be catching up to Curry slightly. Now 33, the Dubs’ superstar will turn 34 in March of 2022, before the regular season wraps up. As Kawakami noted, Curry just crept above 40% from deep this season.

For those not keeping meticulous track of his lifetime percentages, it’s the lowest average he’s shot from behind the arc in his entire career — save for 2019-20, when Curry played just five games before a broken hand sidelined him for year. By comparison, Curry shot 45.4% from behind the line in 2015-16, when he became the only player in NBA history to make more than 400 3-pointers over a single season.

So how is he on track to break his own record now? The answer is volume.


Curry on Pace to Set Career Highs in Attempts, Makes From 3

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GettyGolden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry and Sacramento Kings point guard Darren Collison during a game in 2015.

For the number of attempts Curry takes, drilling more than 4 out of 10 shots from behind the 3-point line is still ridiculous. In fact, it’s a great number for players who shoot just three or four times from those spots per game.

This season, Curry is attempting 13.4 3-pointers every single night he plays. That total is 0.7 more per contest than Curry averaged last season, when he set the all-time NBA record for 3-point attempts. The league’s reigning scoring champion also drilled 5.3 shots from deep in 2020-21. This year, he’s making 5.4, per Basketball Reference.

And that’s how the math works — Curry is making 3-point shots at a lower clip than he ever has, though still at an astoundingly high rate, but he’s also shooting more than he ever has. This could be a function of Thompson’s absence from the lineup, and Curry’s attempts may go down when his backcourt running mate returns following a two-plus year absence. But that isn’t necessarily the case.

Recently retired sharpshooter J.J. Reddick was introduced earlier this month as ESPN’s newest basketball analyst. During his introductory press conference, Reddick was asked what historic NBA teams he wished he’d been a part of.

One of his answers was the Warriors of Curry and Thompson, and when giving his reasons why, Reddick brought up an interesting dynamic that occurs when great 3-point shooters step on the floor at the same time for the same team.

“So I read this interesting stat. There was like a three-year stretch where the two players that had the most wide-open threes in the NBA were Steph and Klay,” Redick said. “That seems counterintuitive, but the reality is the more shooting you have on the court, especially if you have elite shooters, the better looks you’re going to get.”

Based on the statistic Reddick referenced, Curry will get more open looks when Thompson returns. This could result in Curry taking even more 3-pointers, as the Warriors’ total 3-point shots per game would also be likely to rise. It could also result in much better looks, which would likely cause Curry’s percentage from deep to go up and might mean he could make the same number of 3s, or even more, despite attempting the same amount, or even less.

The realities of Thompson’s return render the real question as to whether Curry will break his own record — which he is on pace to do by 30 makes from deep as of 14 games into the season — to simply a matter of health.

Curry missed nine games last season out of 72. He has yet to sit a game this year. At his age, Curry won’t play 82 games. However, he did have a run of between 2012 and 2017, during which he appeared in 78-80 games annually.

Should Curry remain healthy, he won’t be likely to sit much before Thompson returns — an event slated for sometime around Christmas, according to comments from the team. Warriors head coach Steve Kerr may also have incentive to play Curry a game or two more than he would otherwise if Golden State has a chance to close the season with the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.

If Curry holds up, he’s likely to again do the seemingly impossible. At this point, he’s competing only with historic versions of himself, but what a competition it’s shaping up to be.


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