Hell yeah, I saw it, Durant said. As a leader, as one of the best players in the league, you see one of your teammates go down, you feel as though you have to pick up the slack. … Mentally, he was just locked in and he’s been that way ever since. That focus carried us to a title last year.
Curry is naturally laidback. His voice doesn’t carry very far and he seldom utilizes it. After Durant’s injury, he didn’t want to drastically alter how he communicated with his teammates out of concern it would come off as inauthentic. So, the only way he knew how to send a message was through action.
I’ve had to learn when it was time to say something, Curry said. I wasn’t always considered one of the best players on the team. I had to grow into the role of leadership, and in many ways, I’m still growing into it. But I know how to work hard, and I like to let that speak for me.
The good news is Ball has shown signs of improvement as a shooter this season. Whereas he shot 30.8 percent from the field and 23.0 percent from the perimeter in his first 18 games of his NBA career, he has made 40.8 percent of his field goal attempts and 36.1 percent of his 3-point attempts in the 18 games since. He has looked more confident shooting 3-pointers on the catch and off the dribble as the season has progressed, and he’s even flashed some creativity as a shooter…
Until he’s more comfortable attacking shot blockers, Ball would be wise to develop an in-between game. He’s made only 26.9 percent of his floaters thus far, but it’s not a shot that was in his arsenal in college. Much like the rest of his offensive game, Ball has the potential to develop into a capable midrange scorer, but the transformation isn’t going to happen overnight.
That’s when teammates say Curry, a team captain along with Andre Iguodala, made adjustments to his leadership approach. It started behind the scenes. Players said they would arrive for practices to find Curry was already in the gym drenched in sweat.
You just saw him practicing and he started becoming more aggressive, David West recalled to ESPN. When we were going 5-on-5, he was going 100 miles an hour and everybody is like, ‘Oh s—. This m—–f—– is serious.’ And that was also at shootaround. He got everybody going. It was during that stretch that he became a little bit more vocal, more demonstrative about the urgency we needed to have to keep the season alive when you lose somebody like KD.
By now, based on Butler’s Super Bowl 52 benching, everybody knows how much he fell out of favor in New England as the No. 2 corner. That’s the way he needs to be viewed as a free agent: not on the same level as his one-year teammate, Stephon Gilmore, from a year ago.