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Golden State has optimized Stephen Curry’s generational talent

(work cited at the end / bottom) Cary Edmondson / USA Today Sports

The greatness of Stephen Curry is stamped, sealed and delivered. Curry is the greatest shooter that the game of basketball has ever seen. Only the all-time greats of the NBA can rival his list of accolades. He is a member of the NBA’s 75th anniversary team. He is an 8 time all star , 8 time all NBA team member, 2 time scoring champion, 2 time league MVP, 4 time NBA champion, and an NBA Finals MVP amongst many other accolades. It is not an overstatement to say that he is the greatest guard of his generation and a Top 10 player of all time, or at least in the discussion for being one.

Having said all of that, my focus today is to discuss the uniqueness of Curry’s success in one location, in the midst of today’s NBA climate, and to discuss the manner in which the Golden State Warriors’ (GSW) front office have helped to position Curry for sustained success.

Due to Kevin Durant’s achilles tear / departure to the Brooklyn Nets, and the season ending injuries suffered by Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry in 2019, by the end of the 2019 - 2020 season, the Warriors had a record of 15 - 50 and were the worst team in the NBA.

At this same time, Kawhi Leonard and Lebron James had led their respective teams to titles in consecutive years. It is important to note that Leonard and James accomplished these feats after departing from long tenured stays at their prior organizations. They, along with others before them (e.g., James in Miami, Durant in GSW), helped to show that success can be achieved when a marquee player leaves their long tenured team for another. Given that Leonard and James achieved immediate success in their new destination, it was reasonable to wonder if Curry could do the same by leaving GSW. With Kevin Durant gone, Klay Thompson’s health in question, and Curry set to be a free agent in the near future, people began to speculate whether Curry remaining in GSW presented him with the best chance to continue to compete for championships.

While the success of Curry’s contemporaries gave credence to that question, Curry reaffirmed his commitment to GSW by signing a contract extension before the 2021 - 2022 season.

That season, with an improved roster and a healthy supporting cast, Curry’s pledge of loyalty to GSW yielded immediate success in the form of a championship.

By the end of Stephen Curry’s 2022 playoff run, the thought of him leaving GSW became an absurd notion to even consider.

The climax of Curry’s dominant championship run came in Game 4 against Boston where he hit an array of difficult heart wrenching shots en route to a 43 point and 10 rebound performance.

Per House of Highlights

Per Basketball Reference, through the 2022 playoffs, Curry averaged 27.4 points per game, 5.2 rebounds per game, and 5.9 assists per game en route to the Western Conference Finals MVP and Finals MVP.

Just 2 years after people speculated whether Curry could win again in GSW, he did so in such a dominating fashion.

I believe that Curry’s ability to be great in a single location is one of many things that makes him unique relative to other marquee players. While it is a characteristic of Curry that should be celebrated, I also believe that excelling in a singular location is contingent upon a strong front office and providing the right incentive to keep that marquee player in one location. When marking players up or down for charting their own path or deciding to stay, I believe that the role an NBA front office plays is often devoid in those conversations.

Per Jesse D. Garrabrant / Getty Images 2004

(Garnett was the 2004 league MVP).

I often think of Kevin Garnett when a player's loyalty to one team is celebrated. I think about how he devoted his first 12 years to Minnesota and over a decade put up averages of 21.9 points, 12.2 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.7 blocks (per basketball reference from 1997 to 2007). Would he be perceived differently had he successfully found another tenable team earlier in his prime to compete for championships? Would he be in the conversation for the greatest 10 players ever if Minnesota had done a better job of building a roster around him? It is a valid question, and a perspective often lost when disparaging marquee players from moving to other teams like Kevin Durant in Brooklyn, or praising others for staying like Stephen Curry in GSW. There are a plethora of reasons that may drive a player to leave a team that include but are not limited to: location, lifestyle, playstyle, team culture, salary, and the ability to win.

The ability to win is a factor that is contingent upon the other 14 players on a roster and the competence of an NBA front office / ownership. It follows then, that when assessing the greatness of Steph Curry and the uniqueness of his ability to do so in one location, it is essential to also acknowledge the proficiency that the GSW front office / ownership has displayed in creating an environment for Curry to thrive.

Since drafting Curry in 2009, (sans a few decisions such as selecting Ekpe Udoh over players like Gordon Hayward or Paul George), GSW has made the veracious decision at each inflection point.

They drafted Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, and Draymond Green in 2011 and 2012. The skill set / playstyle of those three players perfectly complemented Curry’s like a glove.

Per, this 4 man group overwhelmed opponents with a net rating of 18.0 across the 2016 season.

In 2014, they hired Steve Kerr as their head coach, and in turn were able to establish a better culture and system that maximized the talents of their core group of players. Passing and ball movement is a component of GSW’s offense that distinguishes them across the NBA. Since hiring Steve Kerr, they, on average, GSW has been top 5 in passes, assists, and points created off of assists.

(statistics per

Andre Iguoudala was the first former all star to willingly go to Golden State. He fit the culture and system that Steve Kerr aimed to implement and the playstyle of Curry, Thompson, and Green. GSW hit a home run signing Iguodala, and this decision culminated in him being an integral member of GSW’s 2015 and 2016 championship runs, and being named the 2015 NBA Finals MVP.

Drafting well, having the right coach to optimize the existing talent, and winning had transformed GSW into a hot destination. In summer’s past, GSW could not entice Dwight Howard to join their team or secure a meeting with Lebron James (in 2014). However, optimizing those factors in their control, while also having Curry play at a historic level, helped to create an attractive environment for even the NBA’ upper echelon of talent. This along with a timely salary cap spike enabled GSW to acquire Kevin Durant in 2016. That of course helped GSW field, in my opinion, the greatest team of all time, the 2017 GSW, and a championship in 2017 and 2018.

Ronald Martinez / Getty Images 2017

(GSW went 16-1 in 2017 and had the largest margin of victory for an NBA finals series in 2018).

In my opinion, the culture of GSW and their strong track record in the draft and free agency helped to create an environment where Curry signing a contract extension before the 2021 - 2022 season was an easy decision.

I believe they had built enough goodwill to give Curry confidence that with better health and a revamped roster, they could be winners again.

This could be seen in the pieces that GSW immediately started to lay after the departure of Kevin Durant.

As opposed to losing him for nothing, GSW acquired D’Angelo Russell in a sign and trade with Brookyln. The presence of Russell served as a trade chip to help net Andrew Wiggins and Jonathon Kuminga in a trade with Minnesota.

Per Elsa / 2022 Getty Images

(Andrew Wiggins grabbed a game high 16 rebounds in GSW’s game 4 win against Boston)

GSW shrewdly identified players like Gary Payton II, Otto Porter Jr., and Nemanja Bjelica in free agency that fit into the culture that they had established.

In the draft, they built a robust selection of young talent seen through players like Jordan Poole, Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody, and James Wiseman.

GSW continued to make the perfect decision, which even at times included not doing anything. Last season, they could have packaged their young core for a win now player such as Bradley Beal, but instead decided to stay put. This decision paid dividends in the form of another championship and roster youth / flexibility for the years to come.

Everything starts and stops with Curry. He is an all time great player that makes everything around him great. With that being said, GSW has exemplified how to create an environment in which the talents of a generational star are maximized. It is for that reason, that even after 4 championships and 6 trips to the NBA finals, GSW is positioned with the culture and the personnel to compete for championships in the years to come. And for Curry, that means continuing to cement his name amongst the all time greats.

Garrett Ellwood / NBAE via Getty Images / 2022NBAE

Work Cited:

Edmondson, Cary. Reuters. “Celtics Shut down Warriors as Steph Curry Exits with Foot Injury.”

RAPPLER, USA Today Sports, 17 Mar. 2022,

Elsa. Colin Ward-Henninger Jun 11. “NBA Finals: Warriors’ Andrew Wiggins Emerges as

Second Star next to Stephen Curry in Game 4 Win vs. Celtics.”, CBS, 11

June 2022,

Ellwood, Garrett. Martin, Brian. “5 Incredible Stats from 2022 Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP Stephen Curry.”, NBA, 2022,

Highlights, House of. “Stephen Curry Epic 43 Pts Full Highlights vs Celtics in Game 4.” YouTube, YoutTube, 10 June 2022,

“Lineups Advanced.” NBA Stats, NBA Stats, 2016,

“Teams Passing.” NBA Stats, NBA Stats, 2016,

Martinez, Ronald. Brownlow, Justin. “Kevin Durant is Having Trouble Remembering the 2017 NBA Finals between Cavs, Dubs.”

King James Gospel, Getty Images, 19 July 2021,

Garrabrant, Jesse D. “Kevin Garnett of the Minnesota Timberwolves Poses for an MVP Portrait…” Getty Images,

Getty Images, 2004,

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