San Francisco Chronicle

How Curry and War­riors can ben­e­fit

- Scott Ostler is a San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle colum­nist. Email: sostler@sfchron­i­ Twit­ter: @scot­tostler

Stephen Curry has a hell of a pit crew get­ting him back onto the NBA track.

Curry is re­hab­bing a sprained an­kle that will keep him out of ac­tion at least through Christ­mas. I’m not sure why the NBA doesn’t sim­ply put its sched­ule on hold for a cou­ple of weeks. All the play­ers could use a blow, and the league isn’t as much fun with­out Curry. But Adam Sil­ver is a stick­ler for sched­ules. How­ever, the com­mis­sioner will ask the league’s other su­per­stars to be more ex­cit­ing for the next cou­ple of weeks, chip­ping in to make up for Steph’s ab­sence.

But about the pit crew: For his daily shoot­ing rou­tine, which he got back to Wed­nes­day, Curry works with as­sis­tant coaches Bruce Fraser and Nick U’ren, but Steve Nash re­cently joined the crew. You know Nash, the team con­sul­tant and two-time league MVP. Nash drops into prac­tice from time to time and usu­ally works with Kevin Du­rant, but this time, he joined Curry’s fun bunch.

Curry did his usual shoot­ing. Looked nim­ble, did the typ­i­cal cut­ting and run­ning, didn’t seem to be fa­vor­ing the an­kle, got the usual lift off the

floor on his jumper, which isn’t much.

I won­der if the forced lay­off will be ben­e­fi­cial for Curry. Who knows, maybe a bit of shot fa­tigue can set in when you shoot a mil­lion shots a day, and now maybe he has a bit of men­tal and phys­i­cal fresh­ness.

It’s work, Curry’s shoot­ing rou­tine, but it doesn’t look like drudgery. It’s quick-paced and me­thod­i­cal, with U’ren re­bound­ing, feed­ing Fraser, who feeds Curry, but the three don’t look like they’re paid to be there. Three guys at the gym.

Nash added a pro­fes­so­rial touch. At one point, Curry fas­tened on a wide rub­ber­ized belt with two re­sis­tance bands, one at­tached to the belt near each hip. Fraser stood be­hind Curry and grabbed a band in each hand, like a farmer hitch­ing up the plow horse.

Curry drib­bled for­ward against the band re­sis­tance, ma­neu­vered, then shot. Fraser moved with him, look­ing like a pup­pet mas­ter.

Fraser said the gizmo is rel­a­tively new to the team, in­tro­duced by Nash. It is de­signed to develop the core, and im­prove bal­ance and po­si­tion­ing. So hey, maybe Curry, who was play­ing at an MVP-dis­cus­sion level, will come back bet­ter than ever.

If not, at least he’ll pick up some soc­cer moves from Nash, who was play­ing hacky-sack with a bas­ket­ball, and shoot­ing bas­kets off his in­step.

Curry looks good, is heal­ing on sched­ule, will be re-eval­u­ated next week, but there is a worry cloud over the rest of the sea­son. Ev­ery player rolls an an­kle, but no­body has for­got­ten Curry’s ca­reer-threat­en­ing an­kle prob­lems (two surg­eries) six sea­sons ago.

The War­riors have stocked up on ex­tra su­per­stars for a rainy day, but if we’re play­ing Amer­ica’s silliest game, “Which Warrior is Most In­dis­pens­able,” I’m tak­ing Curry.

Short-term, though, Curry’s ab­sence is not with­out its ben­e­fits.

In the War­riors’ over­time win over the Lak­ers on Mon­day night, Du­rant missed his first seven shots. Had Curry been play­ing, Du­rant might have backed off and looked for Curry. Du­rant knew he had to shoot him­self back to re­al­ity im­me­di­ately, so he kept jack­ing, and wound up scor­ing 36 points, shoot­ing 10-for-22 af­ter the cold start.

It’s good for Du­rant and Klay Thomp­son to know they have to help make up for Curry’s lost 26 points ev­ery game. Thomp­son did it Wed­nes­day night by scor­ing 27 points in the first half against Mem­phis.

When all the War­riors are healthy, one thing head coach Steve Kerr has to worry about and fight against, is cruise con­trol. Some­times for this group, the game is too easy. That can be good, be­cause you can’t play six months with a white-hot in­ten­sity, but a team needs chal­lenges.

Plenty of room for that type of growth now, with Dray­mond Green, Zaza Pachu­lia and Shaun Liv­ingston also miss­ing time with in­juries. Kerr loves it when the spot­light gets thrown on the non-su­perduper­stars. Keeps morale up, and Kerr knows those play­ers will be needed in the post­sea­son.

Omri Casspi, for in­stance, has re­ceived ex­tended min­utes, and has re­sponded. He fits the War­riors’ of­fense so well that gen­eral man­ager Bob My­ers must be em­bar­rassed that he got Casspi so cheaply.

David West, whose play­ing time has gone up and is the man who looked like he would be phased into an end-of-ca­reer men­tor­ship role, is fly-swat­ting the shots of teen phe­noms.

We’ll all miss watch­ing Curry go against LeBron on Christ­mas Day, but the big show is months away. On Mon­day, be­fore that Cavs-War­riors game, maybe Curry can call in a stunt dou­ble, Nash, to take that pregame Tun­nel Shot. Off his in­step.

 ?? Harry How / Getty Im­ages ?? War­riors for­ward Omri Casspi (18) lays the ball up dur­ing Mon­day’s over­time vic­tory over the Lak­ers in Los An­ge­les.
Harry How / Getty Im­ages War­riors for­ward Omri Casspi (18) lays the ball up dur­ing Mon­day’s over­time vic­tory over the Lak­ers in Los An­ge­les.
 ?? Ezra Shaw / Getty Im­ages ?? It’s not ideal to have Stephen Curry cheer­ing from the bench, but there is an up­side.
Ezra Shaw / Getty Im­ages It’s not ideal to have Stephen Curry cheer­ing from the bench, but there is an up­side.

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