Stephen Curry had no preconceived notion on how being Kevin Durant’s teammate was supposed to work.
He just knew it would.
It was a fair question when the season began: How were superstars like Curry and Durant going to mesh with the Golden State Warriors? No one need ask anymore, not with the Warriors holding the best record in the NBA and the team about to send four players — Curry and Durant included, of course — to New Orleans for next Sunday’s All-Star Game.
“I kind of went into it with a fresh perspective, just understanding what KD’s game is like and what he’s like as a person,” Curry said. “I knew some things from playing with him, on Team USA and stuff. From there, we had a certain identity to how we play. I knew that he would blend right in and bring his skill set to the table.
“Didn’t want to put too much pressure on the transition,” Curry added. “We just let it happen.”
He makes it sound so simple.
Those who have been there before know it’s not. Paul Pierce went through it in Boston when the Celtics added Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, and Dwyane Wade did in Miami when the Heat landed LeBron James and Chris Bosh.
“It’s very challenging. It’s like being a bachelor and then you get married,” Wade said. “You aren’t going to have as much bathroom time, you aren’t going to have as much of the bed. You have to figure out how to get comfortable.”
Curry apparently has. His scoring is down from a league-best 30.1 per game last season to 25.2 this season. He’s shooting less and doesn’t have the ball in his hands as often.
There’s other parts to the formula. Harrison Barnes took 10 shots per game last season for Golden State; he’s now in Dallas. Draymond Green has given up some of his shots, and Durant himself is shooting a tad less often than he did in Oklahoma City.
But when Durant signed with the Warriors last summer Curry immediately knew his role would change, even coming off consecutive MVP seasons.
He hasn’t complained.
“When you have an opportunity to get a piece who isn’t just a good piece but a great piece, a future Hall of Fame piece, it’s easier to take a little bit of a side step,” former NBA star Jerry Stackhouse said. “It’s not a backstep at all. You still need Steph Curry to be Steph Curry for them to have a chance to win a championship.”
A play in Saturday’s game that had Durant back in Oklahoma City might illustrate how well he and Curry are clicking.
It was midway through the first quarter, Warriors down by seven and Durant having missed his last three jumpers. Curry dribbled across midcourt with his left hand, and pointed at Durant with his right.
Pass. Catch. Shoot. Score.
Curry let the whole arena know what was coming, and it still worked.
The Warriors had the lead not long afterward, and won going away.
“All these guys are great guys,” Durant said. “They’re easy to get along with. A lot of guys know how to just play the game. I knew if I came here, not think about myself and just play within the offense, I’d figure out how to be aggressive and score.”
Curry and Durant also said there are times when they can read the other without needing words — a look here or a nod there is sometimes enough to tell the one exactly what the other is thinking.
The numbers are showing that Curry is finding his rhythm now, too: A month ago, he was below 40 percent for the season from 3-point range. In his last 10 games going into Monday, he’s shot 50 percent from beyond the arc.
If all that wasn’t enough, there’s also this: Curry and Durant both say they’re only going to get better.
“At the end of the day we are about winning,” Curry said. “The spotlight will come and I’ll be able to do what I need to do on the floor and push my game to the next level regardless. That’s the mentality we both had going into this. And we’re getting better at it.”
Associated Press Writer Terrance Harris in Orlando, Florida contributed.