Dec 9, 2020
Nick FriedellESPN Staff Writer
- Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.
As the Golden State Warriors get ready to start playing basketball again for the first time in over nine months, star guard Stephen Curry acknowledged that he is looking forward to the challenge of trying to lead the team back to the top in the wake of the major roster shuffling Golden State has undergone.
“To kind of have a fresh reset from the five-year run was — I wouldn’t call it necessary because I would have loved to have been playing last year, but it was useful,” Curry said Wednesday during an interview on “Damon, Ratto & Kolsky” on KGMZ-FM 95.7 The Game in San Francisco. “And now it’s about turning that into momentum coming in this season. And I think a leader, and with me [and] Draymond [Green] and what we have to accomplish this year, hopefully gives us a little chip on our shoulder, a fresh perspective, and understanding what the challenge is ahead of us. We’ve had a lot of successes, a lot of experiences these last five years, [it’s] been a crazy roller coaster. It almost feels like we’re starting at ground zero again which is kind of awesome.”
Curry, who played in just five games last season while recovering from a broken left hand, is hungry to prove to the rest of the NBA that the Warriors’ run of dominance isn’t over.
One of the reasons Curry remains optimistic, despite the loss of All-Star swingman Klay Thompson to a season-ending Achilles tendon injury, is that he’s confident that veteran Green will provide the leadership and intensity needed to fuel a Warriors renaissance. Curry knows that some in the league are questioning whether Green, who will be 31 in March, can still play at the same high level as he enters the second half of his career. But Curry is confident that the man who helped deliver three titles to the Warriors will rise to the occasion once again.
“This guy, Draymond Green, who we’ve known has been counted out before he even stepped foot on the NBA level, has always found a way to figure it out and found a way to be impactful at the highest level, that defensive monster and impact winning games, so I have the utmost confidence in the way he’s kind of been talking to be personally and just understanding what we have to accomplish left together.
“And I think it’s about just for him getting out there on the floor and doing it. We can talk all we want to, but we got to get out there and do it and show. Everybody’s in that recency bias, ‘What have you done for me lately?’ I belong to that camp sometimes, but it’s all about what we do.”
Both Green and No. 2 overall draft pick James Wiseman have been held out of the start of Warriors training camp. Warriors general manager Bob Myers said last week that two players had tested positive for COVID-19. While the organization couldn’t name which players tested positive, Wiseman and Green are the only two who have yet to practice and it remains unclear when both players will be able to play again.
Despite the awkward nature of a training camp held in the middle of a pandemic, Curry, 32, reiterated his belief that Wiseman will be able to produce when his NBA career finally begins.
“He’s just going to be a force, man,” Curry said of Wiseman. “To the point of all the things we need to learn as fast as possible, I can’t imagine for a 19-year-old to be able to ingest all that information, go out and play, but the things that he does well, you really can’t teach. His size, his athleticism, his presence to protect the paint, the speed to run up and down the floor, put pressure on the rim, we can use that right away. So you’re going to see a different player probably from Game 1 to Game 72, but early in the season he should be able to show what he’s about and provide a lot of value for us on the interior and play Warrior basketball. So I’m excited, man. You can see the look in his eyes. He’s chomping at the bit right now.”
As for Thompson, his latest setback has put the privilege of being able to play in even more perspective for Curry. After watching Thompson rehab from a torn left ACL a season ago, Curry has a greater appreciation for being able to get back onto the floor.
“Klay’s situation makes you understand in sports and in this profession you can’t take anything for granted,” Curry said. “And you understand that I’ve played 12 years and hopefully many, many more, but you can’t really coast through this situation because there’s so much that can happen positively and negatively and you kind of got to deal with it all. So it’s a subtle approach and a subtle change in how you see your role as a leader and balancing that with still being the killer and the competitive guy that I plan to be.”