The Golden State Warriors’ Championship Prospects Are Rising at the Cost of Stephen Curry’s MVP Aspirations

There’s a new trend taking place in the NBA. Stephen Curry struggles from the field. The Golden State Warriors win anyway.

Sunday’s victory over the Utah Jazz was just the latest example of how things have been shaking down in the Bay. The Warriors won 94-92 despite Curry registering 13 points on 5-of-20 shooting. But thanks to solid efforts from Jordan Poole and other key role players, the Dubs improved to 34-13.

Golden State’s win over the contending Jazz is an example of how the team is much more than the superstar Curry. But while that bodes well for the playoffs and a potential Finals run, that may spell the end of any “Steph for MVP” talk.

Stephen Curry has been stuck in a shooting slump

Six weeks ago, Curry was already working on his MVP acceptance speech. But the two-time winner is looking increasingly unlikely to claim his third MVP given his most-recent slump.

Since Jan. 1, Steph is averaging 20.8 points on 35.9% shooting. That ranks 34th in the NBA during that time frame behind players like Kyle Kuzma and Miles Bridges. He’s also going an abysmal 29.9% from deep despite averaging 10.6 attempts per game, the second-most shots behind only Fred VanVleet.

One of Curry’s worst performances of the season was against Utah, when the 33-year-old went 1-of-13 from 3-point land. He went 4-of-13 and 6-of-16 from three in the previous two games as well. Yet as inefficient as his last three games have been, it still pails in comparison to Curry’s back-to-back flubs on Jan. 3 and 5, when the superstar combined to shoot 2-of-19 from three and 8-of-41 overall.

Curry, the league’s all-time leader in threes, has just six games since Jan. 1 in which he has shot 40.0% or better from three. On the flip side, he has six games in the same span with sub-30.0% 3-point shooting.

The Golden State Warriors’ supporting cast is carrying Curry amid his struggles

As Curry works to regain his shooting stroke, the Warriors are getting by. There’s a reason they’re 34-13 and 3.5 out of the one-seed. For more specifics, look at Sunday’s victory over the Jazz. Four starters finished with a positive plus-minus, the lone exception being Curry. Additionally, there were five players not named Curry finishing in double figures.

Take Poole for example. The third-year guard finished with 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting, his second straight 20-point game and fifth of the new calendar year. Or Otto Porter Jr., who went 5-of-7 from the field and hit all but one of his four 3-point attempts.

Ever since the calendar flipped into 2022, eight players averaging 19 minutes or more have a better field-goal percentage than Curry. While some can look at that as a knock toward Steph, it also shows how the bulk of his teammates are stepping up. His teammates are coming up clutch from three as well, as Porter, Damion Lee, and Andrew Wiggins are all hitting over 37.0% since New Year’s Day.

Golden State’s supporting cast is also how it’s managed to overcome Draymond Green’s absence. Green was in and out of the lineup leading up to the new year but hasn’t played since Jan. 7 due to a back injury. In addition, Klay Thompson is on a minutes cap and hasn’t suited up in either of the past two games.

Curry’s MVP case is dwindling, but the Warriors look more and more like a title contender

After locking up the MVP race before Christmas, Curry’s slump has opened the door for several other players. Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and reigning MVP Nikola Jokic are all neck-and-neck with the Warriors star. But if given the option, Curry would trade a third MVP for a fourth title any day.

Golden State has admittedly been an up-and-down club over the last few weeks. But considering Curry’s slump, Green’s injury, and Thompson getting his legs back, it’s shocking that the Dubs haven’t fallen further out of the top-seed picture. Yet with all the adversity, the Warriors have gone 7-6 since the new year and remain firmly in the hunt.

Between Poole, Wiggins, Porter, Lee, and more, Golden State has proven to have depth able to overcome nearly any obstacle. Now just imagine when Curry finds his form, Green returns, and Thompson is back in game shape. And that’s not even counting any potential trade deadline moves to further enhance its championship aspirations.

With their superstar playing as poorly as ever, the Warriors are still able to win on any given night. That should be scary news for the rest of the NBA.

All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.

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