“I learned how quickly I actually released my shot off the dribble. I know that’s something I work on, and really use in games, but I didn’t know exactly how quick it was, down to like the millisecond. I try not to think about it during games, so I don’t clog my mind. To know how fast it actually happens gives me a little leg up, I think.” Stephen Curry (Business Insider, 2016)
A smiling warm-hearted kid with his father on the bench while watching the performance of his dad’s competitor Dražen Petrović in the Three-Point Contest of 1992 All-Star Weekend! The kid was probably supposed to be an NBA player in the future; however, nobody knew he would be one of the best! Now he is the most prominent of father-to-son basketball players and lied beyond his father Dell Curry, a former NBA player.
He is Stephen Curry; three-time NBA Champion and Most Valuable Player (MVP) award winner! One of the greatest shooter in the NBA history, and a hero who brought the championship to the Silicon Valley after 40 years.
Along with Steph’s indisputable leader role in evolving Golden State Warriors into a title contender, he comes to the fore with his outstanding shooting skill. However, he should not be considered as just a pure long-range shooter such as Ray Allen, Reggie Miller and Kyle Korver; he is literally a lethal weapon that has a comprehensive shooting portfolio from the rim all to almost half-court. What’s more, his shot mechanics enables him to release the ball in under half a second and add an extra degree of an arch to avoid a block and makes him an unstoppable and irresistible shooter.
“As Curry extends his legs and begins to lift off the court, one of the more remarkable traits of the game’s best jump shot comes into view: It’s not a jump shot at all. Not even close. Classic jump-shooters, like Ray Allen, use a more athletic, two-part process, elevating high above defenders and then launching the ball at their apex with a flatter shot arc — around 45 degrees. Curry’s toes, however, barely leave the earth. Instead, he releases the ball as he is still rising, accomplishing in one movement what most shooters must do in multiple, deliberate steps. By doing this, Curry adds 10 degrees of arc to the flight of his ball, making it nearly impossible to block… It also translates into 19 percent more space inside the rim for Curry’s ball to travel through, according to ESPN’s Sport Science. This is the moment where the art and science of Curry’s shot intersect with his mechanics to create something wholly original — even revolutionary. All the best parts of his motion evolved from his alleged shortcomings. Curry’s slight stature requires his shot to be fast. Fast requires that the mechanics must be flawless and give him a lower release point for more arc.” David Fleming (ESPN , 2014)
In this article, Steph’s shooting performance has been covered under various headings such as game result, shot type, shot distance, shot points, quarter, point margin, time left in quarter, month and opponent via parameters including Field Goal (FG), Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG) and Field Goal Percentage (FG%).
Stephen Curry, who was selected with the seventh overall pick in the Round 1 in the 2009 NBA draft by the Golden State Warriors, had waited for three seasons to make playoffs. Considering his performance – 80 games with 36.2 minutes, 17.5 points, 5.9 assists and 1.9 steals per game – during his rookie season, Steph easily clutched onto the NBA and cemented his position as a main player of the team. However, he had surgery on his right ankle to repair torn ligaments in May 2011 and his injury acted up during the regular season in January 2012. As shown in the chart below, Curry appeared in only 26 regular season games and scored much less accurate in the 2012 season.
Curry’s FG trend had shown a constant increase until 2015-2016 season that Golden State Warriors became the first 73-win team in NBA history by surpassing the 1995–96 Chicago Bulls’ 72–10 record, and he broke a number of records such as highest FG (805) and 3-Pt FG (402). He also became the seventh player in NBA history to join the 50–40–90 club, representing the shooting percentages from the field (.504), beyond the arc (.454), and the free-throw line (.908).
His eFG rates, which had increased steadily until his peak season, remained at the level of 60% in recent years. Apart from 2016-2017, his regular season eFG figures were generally higher than playoffs. His eFG rate had shown a ‘home/away’ correlation up to 2016, except for 2012 whose sample is considerably low. In 2017, the correlation gave its place to dispersion, and his average eFG rate for away games dropped below 55%.
Following a sharp decline in seasons of 2012 and 2013, there is an obvious enhancement in Steph’s rate of field goals that are assisted by dint of Steve Kerr’s schemes, enabling Warriors playing at a faster pace and giving Steph more freedom to shoot. On the other hand, an explicit correlation is seen clearly between home and away games in terms of assisted field goal rate.
In regular seasons, a clear distinction is seen in Curry’s eFG averages, depending on game results of Warriors. His average eFG rate ranks between 55% and 65% in case of Warrior’s win and recedes into the band of 50%-55% in Warriors defeats.
The range average eFG rate is getting wider in playoffs, mainly stemming from small sample (game) number, has also more volatility in defeated games. Surprisingly, the rate dropped to 33% for home losses during 2015 Playoffs during his first championship ring.
Based on the average of all seasons, Curry has showed his highest performance – over 60% eFG – during the first and last months of regular seasons. To illustrate his dominance in regular seasons, his eFG rate had stayed ahead of the level of 55%. Given the high difficulty level of the final series, the decline in eFG to 54% in June could be considered as an expected result.
Stephen Curry’s killer jump shot, which is a subject of lots of analysis, holds the lion share of his field goals since the beginning of his NBA career. Aside from jump shot, he prefers finishing Warriors’ plays with layup over years. Looking at charts of shot distance, points at rim, which is seen on the rise steadily, stands at the forefront in terms of FG rate. While Curry had been scoring through more 2-Pt field goals in his early career; his 3-Pt performance has shown further improvement, and started to be realized on par with 2-Pt’s in recent seasons.
The two-time MVP scores more during first and third quarters of games, while his eFG rate was recorded at the level of 60% for each quarter. In other words, his higher FGs in first and third quarters were driven by more shooting attempts during these periods. In the playoffs, the second-half shooting performance reached a spectacular level last season, particularly eFG in Q4 was recorded as 77.5%.
In the regular season of 2016, his striking performance is explicitly reflected in all periods. Curry, who showed off a 3-6 minute mark at the end of the quarter in the championship’s completed 2015 playoffs, has significantly reduced his eFG scores in the last three minutes. Curry’s amazing shooting performance during 2015-2016 season, in which Warriors became the first 73-win team in NBA history and Curry joined the ’50–40–90′ club by the shooting percentages from the field (.504), beyond the arc (.454), and the free-throw line (.908), was fully reflected in eFG rates for each quarter. In regular seasons, Curry has recorded more points in minutes that the margin is lower than 5 points with no exceptions since the beginning of his NBA career.
Curry has surprisingly displayed a better shot performance in the halls of the Eastern Conference teams. In other words, 9 of 10 out of Curry’s best performances took place in the East. Curry apparently feels very comfortable in the American Airlines Center and the Amway Center in Florida and is playing at an average of 64% eFG throughout his career. In the Bay Area, Charlotte Bobcats, Memphis Grizzlies and LA Clippers are teams that has fallen victim to Curry’s wrath. (The box sizes on the below chart that illustrates Curry’s shot performance in Oracle Arena is based on his total FG number against related NBA teams)