Fresh off a 51-point outburst and a second consecutive NBA All-Star starting selection, Golden State’s Stephen Curry — whom this reporter recently called the league’s best point guard — has the Warriors in title contention amid the rugged Western Conference. The 26-year-old is averaging nearly 24 points and 8 assists while shooting a deadly 40 percent from 3. The Huffington Post caught up with Curry last week to discuss his shooting prowess, his appreciation for Coach K and why Mark Jackson and Steve Kerr may be more similar than we thought.
You have become lethal in pick-and-roll point. How have you noticed teams defending you differently this season in that situation?
It’s pretty similar. They just put a lot of pressure on pick-and-rolls and take the ball out of your hands. Our offense is predicated on ball movement, so it takes a little bit of the pressure off and [we] still get open shots.
What have you seen specifically that’s changed the way the Warriors have defended? This is legitimately an elite defensive team across the board.
It’s the commitment to it from top to bottom on the floor, to give what you have on that end of the floor and sticking to the game plan. We’re a versatile personnel to match up with any team, no matter what kind of style of play is expected that night.
The amazing pass you made [in the Jan. 27 game against the Chicago Bulls] — at what point do you decide you’re going to do that? Maybe when you pass half-court? Or does it just happen?
As soon as I get the ball, the only thing I do know is I’m either going to shoot it or give it to D Lee [Warriors power forward David Lee], and once I picked up my dribble and tried to read him to see which way he was going to react, [inaudible] get D Lee the ball any way I had to, and that’s what I came up with.
When you crossed half-court, you were already thinking about it?
Yeah. The only thing I thought about is either lay it up or give it to D Lee, and the rest is just spontaneous. I really have no answer for it.
When you think about the 3-Point Contest during All-Star weekend, how much does that change for you? Because you’ve become such a great shooter on the move, and a lot of guys, like [Atlanta Hawks shooting guard] Kyle Korver, he’ll come off screens, but you’re doing it where you’re creating a lot. So how does that change when you’re picking up a ball from a rack, compared to a game shot in the flow of play?
It’s a different style, yeah. I’ll practice it a couple times to get ready, but for the most part, once you get a rhythm it doesn’t matter where the ball is coming from, as long as you get to your shot pocket and make it work.
For you, in terms of shooting on the move, how would you describe the biggest challenge to become not just a spot-up guy or a one dribble pull-up shooter, but a threat anytime and anywhere?
Just confidence and how I practice. The shots I take in the game are exactly how I practice, so you can rely on muscle memory and repetition and rhythm. So one, I have a good release, and two, I’m trying to shoot a good percentage no matter what shot I’m taking.
What is the biggest difference between Mark Jackson — your previous head coach — and Steve Kerr, who took over this year? On a day-by-day basis, how are they different in approach?
They’re actually pretty similar. They like to keep it light, engage the players in the locker room, run around on the court … Coach Kerr is a little more old-school when it comes to his practice style and the drills that we do, but there’s obviously a point to it all. We listen to music during certain parts of practice to kind of keep it fresh and engaged. Other than that, there haven’t been too many major changes from the old regime to this one.
During your brief time with Coach [Mike] Krzyzewski and Team USA, what’s the biggest influence that he’s had on you?
My two experiences with Team USA … [Coach K] knows how to build a team, and that’s something as a leader with the Warriors [I can use]. I’ve learned a lot of how to communicate with whoever’s labeled the top guy, all the way to the last guy of the roster — just how important each piece is to winning. Obviously when all the NBA guys go to Team USA, you take on different roles, and [Coach K] has a great way of just simplifying things so that you understand.
And putting away all of the egos?
The biggest thing with putting away egos is you put away your egos, but keep them at the same time — meaning that you don’t change who you are, and you play the way that you’re comfortable with, but it doesn’t matter who gets the credit as long as you’re winning. And you’ll feel a special bond due to those memories that you go through because you were a part of winning.
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