Sunday, June 24, 2018
Sports

Outlier, innovator, game-changer. Deal with it.

Stephen Curry and the 53-5 Warriors have no peers right now, which is fun for them but must be increasingly annoying for their famous and insistent band of skeptics.

The frustration is logical, though, in a historic sense:

When the old stalwarts don't get what you're doing ... that's when you know the revolution is well under way.

It works two ways: The criticisms from all-time greats such as Oscar Robertson and Isiah Thomas highlight the vast gap between then and now and serve to motivate the Warriors to make it even greater.

"It's starting to get a little annoying just because it's kind of unwarranted from across the board," Curry said late last week on the Warriors Plus/Minus" podcast.

"When you hear kind of ... obviously legends and people that respect their era and what they were able to accomplish and what they did for the game kind of come at you, it's kind of, just, weird."

Some of the skepticism is understandable, because Robertson and Thomas and others are great figures in the game and, yes, the rules and standards are different now.

Times change, as they did from the era before Robertson to his era, and from his era to Thomas' era, and so on.

Some of the carping is logical, because this Warriors team has just the one title (so far); some of it is envy for the current limelight; some is general cantankerousness.

But let's underline the true heart of the public doubts about Curry and the Warriors coming from Robertson, Thomas, Stephen Jackson — and even from Clippers coach Doc Rivers and others last offseason:

It's about questioning Curry's true status as a generational figure, because he's a departure from the normal procession of bigger, faster, stronger (Elgin Baylor to Julius Erving to Michael Jordan to LeBron James).

Almost every other NBA quantum leap came in the form of a physical leap forward, and Curry's ascension isn't tied to strength, size or speed. He's a skinny guy who went to Davidson and was supposed to be knocked around by Jackson and Monta Ellis in his first Warriors training camp.

But Curry wasn't. He survived, they were sent away, and now here he is, with one MVP on his mantle and No. 2 coming at the end of this season.

Curry's greatness is about an unprecedented talent level and work ethic — no matter what Robertson says about current defense, there is no consistent way to defend a man who can casually dribble into game-winning 38-footers, as Curry did in Oklahoma City on Saturday.

This is new. This is unfathomable, unless you know Curry, unless you've spent a few years studying how he is altering this sport.

Curry's status is comparable to the way Wayne Gretzky changed hockey, the West Coast offense and Joe Montana reset football and Muhammad Ali made everything before him in boxing seem outdated.

The game is different when Curry plays it — which is hard for past greats to synthesize and decipher. They just didn't see this coming, and they don't see how it happened.

No question, the rules changes of the 1990s were all geared to help the offense, and the past decade or so has seen a larger and larger emphasis on the 3-pointer.

But if Curry is merely a product of bad perimeter defense and rules changes, why isn't anybody else shooting them like he is? Why is he so far ahead of everybody else?

Curry is unprecedented. And he would've been unprecedented 10 years ago, 20 years ago or 30 years ago.

Curry is making a league-leading 5.1 3-pointers per game (and 7.2 per after the All-Star break). Next up are teammate Klay Thompson at 3.2 makes per game, Portland's Damian Lillard at 3.0 and Houston's James Harden at 2.8.

If you extrapolate Thompson, Lillard and Harden to full seasons, none would be in the top seven of all-time 3-point seasons.

So, even in a supposedly 3-happy era, Curry is the only player on pace this season to rack up a top-10 season.

Are teams shooting and making more 3-pointers? Of course they are:

This season, each team is averaging 8.4 made 3-pointers per game at a 35.2 percent rate.

Five seasons ago, each team averaged 6.5 made 3-pointers per game at a 35.8 percent rate.

Twenty seasons ago, each team averaged 5.9 made 3-pointers per game at a 36.7 percent clip.

So ... if defenses are so terrible now, how come teams actually made a better percentage of 3-pointers 20 years ago than they are now?

Answer: Defenses aren't terrible now; the Warriors look so different now because Curry is the advancement. Pretty much singularly.

He's the first iPod when other companies are still working with analog equipment.

Is he in the perfect period to take full advantage of his monumental skills? Yes, he's the leading edge, he's the innovator, he's the breakthrough that not everyone understands or believes ... at first.

— San Jose Mercury News (TNS)

Comments
Rays team up to beat Yankees again 4-0

Rays team up to beat Yankees again 4-0

ST. PETERSBURG — With all that's been said, tweeted, ranted and written on these pages and elsewhere about the Rays' odd, unorthodox, weird and some days downright wacky pitching plan, this might be the craziest thing yet:It's working.Like, rea...
Published: 06/23/18
Greg Auman answers your questions about NFL’s investigation into Jameis Winston

Greg Auman answers your questions about NFL’s investigation into Jameis Winston

There are many unanswered questions and discrepancies about the story of Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston and the March 2016 Uber ride in Arizona that has led to his upcoming three-game suspension for violating the NFL's conduct policy.The Bucs won't ...
Published: 06/23/18
Will this be Jameis Winston’s last season in a Bucs uniform?

Will this be Jameis Winston’s last season in a Bucs uniform?

A t his introductory news conference after being drafted No. 1 overall by the Bucs in 2015, Jameis Winston said to judge him on his actions moving forward."Actions speak so much louder than words, or what they may have read or what they may have hear...
Published: 06/23/18
Rays Tales: Why ‘trades’ and ‘prospects’ are always in same conversation

Rays Tales: Why ‘trades’ and ‘prospects’ are always in same conversation

Besides the continual evolution of their intriguing pitching plan, the primary topics of conversation for the Rays over the next several weeks will be trades and prospects. And not mutually exclusively.Some sooner than others, the Rays are going to c...
Published: 06/23/18
Former Mitchell High player Nathan Smith taken in NHL draft by Jets

Former Mitchell High player Nathan Smith taken in NHL draft by Jets

It's rare to see an NHL draft pick with Tampa Bay ties, but the Jets used a third-round pick Saturday on center Nathan Smith, 19, who played for Mitchell High School in Trinity and most recently for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the USHL.Smith was ...
Published: 06/23/18
Report: Lightning to talk to John Tavares during free-agent courting period

Report: Lightning to talk to John Tavares during free-agent courting period

Despite limited salary-cap room, the Lightning is among at least five teams expected to talk with Islanders All-Star center John Tavares, who can be a free agent July 1, when the courting period begins Sunday, ESPN reported.Tavares also is expected t...
Published: 06/23/18
Rays journal: New confidence carries over for Willy Adames

Rays journal: New confidence carries over for Willy Adames

ST. PETERSBURG — The key to SS Willy Adames rapping two of the biggest hits in the Rays' 4-0 win Saturday actually took place the night before.An RBI single that snapped an 0-for-12 and a second hit two winnings later in Friday's game restored ...
Published: 06/23/18
Another small, quick forward headlines Lightning’s draft picks

Another small, quick forward headlines Lightning’s draft picks

Even without a first-round pick, the Lightning wrapped up its draft with seven picks Saturday, starting with Gabriel Fortier, an undersized 18-year-old forward from Quebec in the second round."They were guys that we really wanted," Lightning director...
Published: 06/23/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Yankees game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Yankees game

INF Daniel Robertson has only played two games after a short DL stint, but it seems like he has already made a half dozen great plays. Willy Adames and Jake Bauers get the attention, but Robertson has the skills to steal the show any night.It is obvi...
Published: 06/23/18
Tampa Bay Tech wins Battle of the Bay 7-on-7 tournament

Tampa Bay Tech wins Battle of the Bay 7-on-7 tournament

TAMPA — Tampa Bay Tech lost some significant players from an offense that averaged more than 40 points per game last season.The biggest departures were in the passing game. Mike Penix, the Tampa Bay Times' all-Tampa Bay offensive player of the ...
Published: 06/23/18