The Golden State Warriors have reportedly contemplated resting Stephen Curry for the rest of the season due to their poor start and, quite simply, them not being any good. If so, the inherent lack of competitiveness would show a double standard toward the likes of Houston Rockets guard James Harden.
The Golden State Warriors have been in the NBA Finals in each of the last five seasons and have won the championship in three of those trips. During those championship runs, they eliminated the Houston Rockets in four of those postseasons. This season, however, they look significantly different, as Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala have since departed and Klay Thompson is out all season with an injury.
Going into the season, it was widely believed that media favorite Stephen Curry was going to be able to carry the team and that the duo of him and D’Angelo Russell would be good enough to lift Golden State into postseason play, but the early results told a much different story. Through the first four games of the season, Curry struggled, as he posted an average of 20.3 points per game, which is the fewest points Curry scored in each of the last seven years.
In addition, Curry had been shooting inefficiently, as he shot 40.9 percent from the field and just 24.3 percent from deep, which are each his career lows by a long shot. After the first ten games of the season, the Warriors are 2-8 and currently are last in the Western Conference.
The Warriors’ early struggles have caused the front office to strongly consider holding out Curry for the rest of the season, according to Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report.
A clarification from my story today citing a source saying Steph Curry is likely to miss the remainder of the season: while the injury was worse than originally thought, he wouldn't play again this season because there's no competitive reason. Story is being updated.
— Ric Bucher (@RicBucher) November 8, 2019
Bucher cites a lack of “competitive reason” as the Warriors’ excuse for potentially resting Curry for the remainder of the season. In other words, the Dubs aren’t going to be as good as previous years, so they’d rather rest him and not play him at all.
As an avid Houston Rockets follower, the Warriors’ current status is reminiscent of the 2015-16 season for the Rockets. If you recall, the Rockets had just come off an appearance in the Western Conference Finals in the previous season and also got off to a bad start the next season. The Rockets ultimately decided to fire Head Coach Kevin McHale after seeing the team go 4-7 over the course of the first 11 games.
The Rockets struggled during that season and had only one All-Star that year, James Harden. Harden played all 82 games that season and finished first in minutes played and minutes per game. On top of that, Harden finished first in the league in total points and his 29 points per game were second only to Curry. Harden also had 7.5 assists per contest, which was sixth-best in the league, and posted shooting percentages of 43.9 percent from the field and 35.9 percent from deep.
Despite Harden’s greatness, the Rockets finished 41-41 and limped into the playoffs with the eighth seed in the Western Conference. Given the tough situation, it would have been easy for the Rockets to simply rest Harden, as they surely weren’t legitimate contenders, which is evidenced by their .500 record, but Harden played through the entire season anyway.
Obviously it’s not Curry’s fault that he got injured, but the fact that he should be healthy enough to return and might still be held out because the Warriors are worse than expected is weak. Based on the slander Harden receives on a regular basis for a lack of competitive spirit, such as after the team’s series loss to San Antonio in the 2017 Western Conference Semis, it’s obvious that he would be slandered for a situation such as this.
The Warriors having significantly more talent than the Rockets during the 2015-16 season, as they still have Draymond Green, who is a three-time All-Star and a former Defensive Player of the Year. They also still have D’Angelo Russell, who just dropped 52 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night and reminded everyone what he’s still capable of.
After the tweet by Bucher, it seems that Curry is being given a pass, as there isn’t much backlash against him or the Warriors. Of course, this still might be the case later on if Golden State actually does go through with sidelining their star for the entire season, but so far it has been relatively quiet on that front.
When in a similar situation, James Harden not only played every game with a non-contending Rockets squad but carried that team into the playoffs. If Steph Curry is able to completely heal and still doesn’t give it a go for the team and its fans, that wouldn’t exactly show world-class competitive spirit.