Steph Curry Son’s Young Trae

Updated: November 10, 2021

On the back end of a back-to-back, Golden State annihilated the Atlanta Hawks at home in San Francisco. After going 4 games under 20 per, something Curry hasn’t done since 2014, he plastered possibly the most perfect stat line of the season on the headtop of his apprentice, Trae Young. 50 points, 14 for 28 from the field, 9 of 19 from behind the arc, 10 assists, 7 boards, 3 steals, a block, and only 2 turnovers, resulted in an easy victory over last year’s Eastern Conference participants. The 50-piece tied a Rick Barry’s long-standing franchise record for most points scored by a Warrior against the Hawks. The blowout puts Golden State at the top of the NBA with a 9 and 1 record.

Curry going into video game mode and snatching the souls of his opponents in 3rd quarters has been such a frequent occurrence over the better part of a decade that it’s hardly surprising when it happens despite how impressive and entertaining it may be to watch. The thing though that has raised some ear brows around the league is Curry currently looks like a plus defender at the point guard position. Marking the Warriors as the best team in basketball with the best record in the league thus far would most likely be a misstep and overreaction to a small sample size, yet Golden State currently having the best defense in basketball is something that is built into their DNA and it starts with the tandem of Curry and Draymond. The Warriors currently have a defensive rating of 98.2 per 100 possessions, the best in the NBA.

The chemistry and buy-in from every single piece of their rotation have them as a top 5 rebounding team in the league despite being tremendously undersized for the majority of minutes. Coming into the season it was assumed it would be their Achilles hell until Wisemen came back from injury, and yet they are the 3rd best defensive rebounding team in all of basketball. That will probably not hold up for 82 games, but it proves that at the very least they are willing to fight for the boards in a way they didn’t in years prior in the KD era.

Although Curry hasn’t been shooting up to normal efficiency, he is drawing a double out at 25 feet in almost every possession he is on the floor resulting in the easiest butt-naked corner 3’s Otto Porter and Bjelica have ever seen. With every player outside of Kevon Looney greenlit from distance, the Warriors are sporting a top 5 offense in the league. Even though they are firing up a tremendous amount of threes they have continued to find ways to win even when the deep jumpers are not dropping. The most promising thing to take away from these first 10 games for Golden State is 1, they’re winning games even when Curry isn’t the babyface assassin, and two, they’re doing all of this without Splash Brother, Klay Thompson.

The date that was marked in the preseason for his return was Christmas day against CP3 and his Phoenix Suns, but Bob Myers has insinuated that January is more likely. Especially with the way that all the Warrior’s guards are playing and the emergence of Gary Payton II, they likely will slow roll Thompson’s return if only to shorten the length of his season in preparation for the playoffs. The scariest part of this rotation is the nearly unanimous presumption in the preseason was that Golden State’s title hopes would be purely dependent on what Klay looked like once he was back on the floor. If he came back 90% of what he was, then they would be a black horse contender, and if not, they would be an interesting yet unfeared mid-level team of the West. Well, that narrative is starting to shift even for the biggest Warriors skeptics, since surprisingly Golden State may have one of the deepest rosters in the league even without Klay included in the equation.

Once Thompson is slotted back in the lineup, even if he is only 60% of what he was on the defensive end, there is no reason to assume that offensively he still won’t be the most potent off-ball shooter the game has ever seen. With how slow Otto Porter Jr. looks and still his success on the defensive end, the system that Klay knows better than anyone outside of Draymond will be an environment he may still excel in as a plus defender despite a limit of lateral quickness.

Once Thompson is fully engrained in his role by the postseason as their starting 2-guard, the non-Curry minutes will be directly supplemented by 3rd-year sensation Jordan Poole. Recently Kerr has finally altered Curry’s minutes taking him out halfway through the first for 3 minutes of rest to allow for a heavier load in 4 quarters and the second unit has handled these minutes well already. With Poole fresh off the bench coming to replace Curry, they will finally have a lethal 6th man microwave scorer they have been needing.

All of this has been done with little use of their rookies Jonathon Kuminga and Moses Moody. And with Wisemen still being injured from the end of last season, there have been questions around the league if they may package some of their youth and 1st round capital for a win-now piece. I have written a few trade speculation articles since the preseason on packages and players that may be mutually beneficial for Golden State and their trade partners, and it is something that I am sure the front office is considering despite how successful the current rotation has looked.

To play devil’s advocate though, there is a possibility that these rookies play a role in Golden State’s overall chemistry as a franchise despite them playing such limited minutes on the floor. There is an understood and respected hierarchy with the 3 champions, the vets, and the youth that creates almost a high school varsity-like team atmosphere. These young rookies, Wisemen, and even Poole bring with them an excitement that only high ceiling potential can produce. It’s clear that Curry, Klay, Iggy, and Dray enjoy mentoring their underclassmen, and have unlocked a new part of their pedigree not only as players but as men. And as the team with the best chemistry in the league and the best defensive in the NBA despite their lack of size, it may not be an equation they should mess with too much.

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