Two time MVP and NBA champion Stephen Curry will not be playing in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
The announcement was made shortly after a confirmed MCL sprain that occurred during a match against the Atlanta Hawks where Curry collided with fellow teammate Javale McGee underneath the basket on defense.
Curry’s injury evaluation will take place in 3 weeks, which is right before the first round is scheduled to start. Coach Kerr is determined that after evaluation he will have a longer time table for recovery which will keep him sidelined for the duration of the opening round of the playoffs.
Other marquee players on the Warriors’ roster are also out with injuries, such as Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, but are expected to return in time for the postseason.
The question now is this, how will the Warriors fare without their star point guard in the playoffs?
Here is a list of things the Warriors will miss during Curry’s absence (in no particular order):
- Leads the team in steals per game with 1.6. While he has never been considered a strong defensive player, this is an impressive feat while playing with reigning Defensive Player of the Year Draymond Green.
- Leads team in player efficiency rating (4th in NBA). PER is a per-minute productivity rating. Curry is a beast in the postseason and if he gets hot from behind the arc he is unstoppable. There are few, if any, players in the league that can get going like he can (except for maybe Damian Lillard and Klay Thompson who is on the same team. Yikes). He’s also an underrated passer.
- The floor spacing that both Curry and Thompson provide is lethal, especially if they are on the court together. With just one half of the Splash Bros available, defenses can take advantage of knowing that there is only one absolute threat to keep an eye on instead of two. Kevin Durant is still a problem on the perimeter but 2 players are always more manageable than 3 for an opposing defense.
- Ranks 3rd in NBA real plus/minus (6.00). The value that Curry has on the court for Golden State is irreplaceable. While the roster carries numerous high caliber players, none can fill the slot that will be noticeably empty for the next 3+ weeks.
- Averages 26.4 points per game, almost even with Kevin Durant and good for 6th in the league. Curry attempts almost 17 shots per game, and that amount of possessions will need to be distributed by Coach Kerr to other members of the team. The volume of shots both Durant and Thompson take is likely to go up considerably.
This will not be the first time that the Warriors have been without Curry this season. He has missed a total of 17 games so far this season and Golden State has amassed a 12-5 record during those games. The Warriors have proven that they can win without Curry, but the playoffs are a completely different beast than the regular season. Teams will look for every weakness that they can to overcome their opponent in the grueling 7 game series.
A main reason for the Warriors success in those 17 games has been in large part due to 2-way G League player Quinn Cook stepping up when his number is called.
He has started 8 games this season and averaged over 13 points during that span, including a 3 game stretch where he put up at least 20 points and shot a blistering 57% from 3, definitely Splash Bros worthy. It is almost certain that he will be utilized for the playoffs while Curry recovers, but his lack of experience leaves a huge question mark.
While it’s still unlikely that the Warriors suffer a first round tournament exit despite Curry’s absence, and especially if he makes a surprise return, it makes for an even more interesting playoff picture.
Featured photo source: clutchpoints.com
Quinn photo Source: nba.com