Dubs Lead

The NBA Badly Missed Steph Curry

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NBA fans (and players) have badly missed Steph Curry.

We missed the artistry, energy, pace of play and, of course, the shooting. Curry is one of the most entertaining players in the league. He returned to action last Thursday against the Toronto Raptors, though he had to miss the very next game due to an unrelated illness.

The night of Curry’s return, the atmosphere inside the Chase Center was completely different. This was just another reminder of how much Curry brings to the table and what he means to the fans.

STYLE, JOY & ELECTRICITY

The electricity in the building on Thursday for Steph Curry’s first game was truly exciting. If you didn’t know walking in the building, you wouldn’t have believed that the crowd was cheering for a team with a record of 14-48. That’s what superstars bring to the table, especially in the NBA.

Curry is unique because of the way he plays as well as the attitude he brings to the game. He plays with flair and his game is aesthetically pleasing. Warriors fans have definitely missed plays like the one below.

In addition to the flair and style, what fans missed most was the contagious joy Curry shows each night. In a league with a lot of fake tough guys or not-so-real enthusiasm from players, it’s great to see Steph’s swagger tied to the joy he experiences on the court. Even in the limited minutes he played in his first game back, he gave us exciting moments like these:

THE RATINGS

In addition to the Curry fans wanting him back, we are sure the NBA, in general, was happy to have him back. The NBA has reportedly experienced a serious rating drop this season, and there is a variety of reasons for this. That said, the plight of the Warriors is a huge reason for the drop. The end of the Dubs’ dynasty means a more wide-open league. While we intellectually love parity and a level playing field, our viewing patterns and TV ratings suggest something entirely different. We actually love watching excellence and dynastic teams even more. We may watch just to root against them, but we’d rather watch the Warriors, Patriots and Yankees of the world.

On top of that, Curry’s absence has been a double whammy for the league and its TV partners. Missing Steph’s enormous star power on TV obviously doesn’t help. We could argue all we want about the ranking of the best players in the league and where Curry fits within that list. But make no mistake, Steph is the most popular NBA star in the world not named LeBron James. So, of course, the league needs him on TV. One of the main issues facing the NBA was the already-scheduled national TV games for the Warriors games and the inability to flex out of those games. This made a bad situation much worse for the league. So, having Curry back on the court will be great for the league.

THE BASKETBALL IMPLICATIONS

While Curry’s return is all fun and games for the league, the Dubs organization does have important challenges ahead. This “gap year” is all about building something legitimate for next season. They hope to have a healthy Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, along with Andrew Wiggins and a potential top-5 draft pick. They will try to surround that core with key players who can elevate this roster to a true contender. Most of this season has become an extended audition for guys who can take up roster spots five through 15 depending on how the offseason turns out.

This season has turned into a tremendous opportunity for the Dubs to build their roster. They get to see many role players in extended minutes. They will put a lot of these guys to good use next season, without a hefty burden on the salary cap (too much of the cap is taken up by the top four guys on the roster).

Guys like Marquese Chriss, among others, seem to have nailed down roles already. This is what makes the remaining games so important for Curry and the team. They will learn to play with each other and get comfortable playing next to Curry. And we get to see who fits next to him in Kerr’s offense. This chemistry will give the Warriors a head-start for next season. At least that’s what the Dubs are hoping.

Basically, everybody wins with Curry’s return. Welcome back, Steph Curry!

Follow us on Twitter @DubsLead for the latest Warriors news and insight.

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About Aravind Srinivasan

Aravind loves two things- the NBA and writing. He has been a long-time Phoenix Suns fans since the Charles Barkley-Kevin Johnson era of the mid-90’s. He now lives in the Golden State and follows the Warriors closely. An avid sports and NBA blogger since the early days of blogging, he is now a Suns and Dubs writer for TLSM. His favourite Sun is Steve Nash and his favourite Warrior is Steph Curry. Twitter: @15cent

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