30.1 points, 6.7 assists, and 2.1 steals per game. 90.8% free throw shooting, 45.4% three-point shooting, and 50.4% shooting from the field. Maybe most crazy of all, 402 three pointers made. Those were Stephen Curry's numbers in the regular season. And they don't include the myriad of highlights that have flooded our Facebook walls and Sports Center's Top 10 plays on a daily basis. You may recognize a bunch of those plays in the video below. Basically, Curry's season was one for the ages. But his postseason? Not so much.
In only the second game of the first round versus the Houston Rockets, Curry got hurt. It was bad enough for him to sit out the next six games of the playoffs and withdraw from the 2016 Olympics. Therefore, many of his avid supporters mention this injury when trying to explain just what happened. The sad part is that this, while definitely affecting him, is still simply not a valid excuse. He knows it himself. He refused to even say whether he's actually injured or not because he knows that he can't just put all the blame on that. It's his fault, he knows it and he's going to learn from it and improve.
First, one must look at what went wrong. Just looking at Curry's stats shows a lot. Remember those numbers in the first paragraph? Well compare them to 25.1 points, 5.2 assists, and 1.4 steals per game, and 40.4% shooting from deep. Those are his playoff statistics. Notice the difference? Well, that's not even the end of it. Possibly the most impactful average is not the lower three point shooting but the 4.2 turnovers per game. A lot of these mistakes weren't even forced, they were just silly errors that could've easily been avoided. Most notable was this one. Sorry for the bad quality by the way.
Curry's true problem wasn't his injury or a shooting slump but the fact that he was not used to seeing constant pressure. Last year's playoffs were different because he was still kind of an unknown. This year's regular season was different because players don't give 200% every game. But this year's playoffs was a completely different story, especially in the final two rounds. Russell Westbrook and Kyrie Irving locked him up so tight he could barely breathe, and when he did get away from them, defenders did such a good job of switching that there was still a man on his hip.
This increased pressure led to a plethora of problems. One, he started shooting worse, making him less confident in his greatest asset. He started to hesitate more and this affected his whole game. He had to start relying on his passing more than he was used to and defenses caught on quick. They know he likes passing it to cutters and they would anticipate those passes and pick them off. The turnover would then make Curry feel even worse and it would rip his game apart.
That's what happened to Curry, he couldn't deal with the pressure. Not the imaginary type that surrounds everybody in all big games. While that might have had some effect, his main problem was physical, defensive pressure, the kind that panics most average and worse high school point guards once they get trapped. Defenders played him tighter than anybody in probably the history of the game. And since he was facing against two of the most athletic ones in Westbrook and Irving, they could keep up with him without exhausting themselves.
However, in most people's eyes, LeBron James passed down his crown to Curry, but not as best in the NBA. No, he protected it like the most valuable diamond in the world. What he did pass down was the title of "Choke Artist" and the garbage crown that comes with it. Curry should've adjusted to the increased defense, and he did to a certain extent but it was too little too late. Now, he has a whole offseason to go over the fundamentals, which he seemed to have forgotten once he broke the internet with his highlights more than Kim Kardashian did. He'll come back next season looking to prove the naysayers wrong and try to surpass James. But still, he's going to need to do a lot to make people forget about this.