The Potential Steph Curry Injury Fallout

After Steph Curry went down with an ankle injury against the Pelicans, the Warriors' offensive prowess has dropped off significantly.

Before Kevin Durant came to town, there was no question as to who was the best player on the Golden State Warriors. Stephen Curry's unique shooting ability bent opposing defenses to his will once the Warriors found an actual coach to run the offense. While he should not have been the first unanimous MVP in league history (LeBron would have been the first in 2013 if not for an egregious vote for Carmelo Anthony), Curry was the clear driving force behind a 73-win team.

Durant is certainly more impactful on the defensive end than Curry, and he is an offensive force to behold. While he can (and will) be the team's offensive focus with Curry out of the lineup, Durant does not have the same kind of offensive gravity that Steph has. Then again, nobody in league history has ever been guarded from the half court line and in like Curry. With Steph set to be re-evaluated in a week, the Warriors will be challenged more on the offensive end than they have been in quite some time.

The Steph Effect

Stephen Curry currently leads the league in Offensive Rating. The Golden State Warriors average 118.9 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor. Kevin is second in the league in Offensive Rating and is closer to Jonas Jerebko's seventh-best mark than he is to Curry. Somehow, those numbers still manage to understate Steph Curry's offensive impact.

Curry's on-court mark of 118.9 points per 100 possessions is well above the Warriors' league-leading 113.8 Offensive Rating. With Curry on the bench, the team's Offensive Rating falls to 106.1--still above-average, but just below the LA Clippers in 12th place. The Warriors outscore opponents by 7.0 points per 100 possessions with Curry on the bench. Zaza Pachulia is the only other player on the team with an off-court Net Rating that isn't double digits--and Pachulia's is 9.7 points per 100 possessions. Teams are so terrified of Curry that they ignore former MVP's just to prevent Steph from getting any space from deep:

In Golden State's first two games since Curry's injury, the team won on the strength of their defense--their Offensive Ratings were 105.8 and 104.4 in their wins over Detroit and Charlotte respectively. The team simply does not have as much space to operate with their star point guard on the bench. Instead of four players locked in on one guy, teams can match up with the Warriors even up:

The Golden State Warriors are still a top-tier team even with Stephen Curry on the bench. Their defense alone will be enough to roll over almost any opponent. However, Steph Curry remains the most important player on the team--even with Kevin Durant in town. In a relatively down year from deep by his impossible standards, Curry still freezes defenses both on and off the ball. His impact on that end is impossible to deny and impossible to overcome. The team might succeed in his absence, but that says more about the surrounding talent in Oakland than it says about their primary superstar.

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