The Golden State Warriors are off to a bumpier start than expected. It’s no big deal — the ultra-talented NBA Champions will win a lot of games this year and they remain the clear favorite to capture the NBA’s Western Conference crown — despite undeniable upgrades in Oklahoma City and Houston. What’s more a concern than the Warriors losing early games is that they’re not playing like champs. Those little things that add up to make a championship caliber play? Some of those elements are missing from the Warriors play so far (yes it’s ridiculously early). One of most noticeable examples is superstar Steph Curry’s defense. Curry’s been reaching on defense. Not only that — he’s getting caught. Curry committed four fouls in the opener against Houston and five against the Grizzlies, both losses for the Warriors.
Steve Kerr characterized the Warriors unchampionlike play this way: “Our habits are really bad. A lot of reaches, a lot of silly ones late in the shot clock.” Kerr didn’t aim his comment at Curry alone, but Curry’s 3.3 personal foul average is higher than at anytime in his career, including his second year (2010-11) when he averaged 3.1 personal fouls in 74 games playing 33.6 mpg. He’s playing just 31.7 so far this season in the three-game opening stretch, with his minutes limited a bit due to his foul trouble. It’s a dual problem for Kerr: not only do Curry’s reaches give away free points, possessions and time on the shot clock, it’s equally troubling because Curry can’t score when he’s on the bench with foul trouble. Curry averaged just 2.3 personal fouls in 2016-17. Look for the problem to be corrected swiftly. Curry tends to solve his challenges in short order.