New name, new award, new player, NEW TEAM.
That’s the theme of this post, really. After a 13-7 start to the season, the people who really deserve this award are Mark Jackson and his coaching staff. That said, giving this to them would feel like cheating a player that has really earned it in Stephen Curry.
So in honor of Mark, I’m renaming the award the “Shimmy Shake” Warrior of the Week. It seems especially fitting this week because the one of the most entertaining things about Curry this week was his dancing. In the win over the New Jersey Nets on Friday night, Steph really came into his own as a star player. It may seem odd to say that a player did this over the course of a single game, and it probably is. There’s been a lot building to it, over the course of his 4 seasons in the NBA. Admittedly, even the dancing has been featured before. But this past Thursday night, there was something different. We’d seen the energy before, the confidence that he could do no wrong, but I’d never seen it on display so consistently as in this game against the Nets.
This Curry, for me, is hard to describe. Some would call it swag. Some, just confidence. I think it’s probably somewhere in between. Coming off a stretch of games where he, and his team is playing the best basketball ever, he’s really started to take control of this team. He’s still not a true vocal leader, but there are more and more examples of him exerting himself as the team’s star. And it’s wonderful to watch.
Coming into this week, Curry had a grand total of one technical foul in his career. Just one. It came so inconspicuously that I can’t find a single reference to it anywhere, other than that it happened. Personally, I can’t remember it either. This one against the Nets was memorable. After going down off a hard screen, Steph was visibly upset with the referees, not only picking up the technical, but also having to be held back before getting a second one. He was more visibly angry than I’ve ever seen him, and he made sure the referee knew it.
As a fan of the Warriors, I’m not a fan of Warrior technical fouls, as a general rule. But I didn’t mind this one. There were clearly points in the first half where he hadn’t gotten calls, and he began the second half not getting them, as well. The Warriors trailed at the time, and from that point on, they really controlled the game.
Another thing is very much the demeanor with which he carried himself. I don’t care what you call it, but when Steph acts and plays like that, this team has a persona. When he drives the lane to set up teammates and starts hopping back down the court before the shot falls through, you know things are going right. And we’ve seen more and more of it. He’s starting to take charge.
His shot selection certainly has begun to resemble that of a star, as well. And that’s not a bad thing. One thing about star players, is they have to be willing to take, and able to make, difficult shots. They’ve got to make the defense play them differently than they do the other 4 guys on the court. While I’d still like to see him at the rim a little more often, he’s doing a great job running the defense in circles and setting them up for the outside jumper. The second they pull off of him, he shoots. It’s been a learning experience, but he’s done a great job learning a brand new way of opening up outside shots for himself.
And ultimately, I liked his game in Brooklyn because he lead not only with his voice, but by example. After he picked up the technical, he scored at will. Curry capped off a great week with 21 points in the 2nd half on the road against a Net team that had previously been 7-2 at their new Barclays Center.
I’m not one for convincing people with stats, but just for fun, here’s Steph’s box score lines since I last gave out a Warrior of the Week:
Those lines, leading to 5 Warrior wins in 6 games, are impressive, but they don’t all do justice to just how well he played in some of those games. So, Steph, you just won your first Shimmy Shake award, how are you going to celebrate?