Should more teams play physical defense against Stephen Curry?

With the Golden State Warriors holding a 23-point lead and the Houston Rockets running out of options in a Jan. 21 game, Patrick Beverley and Trevor Ariza made a concerted effort to get under Stephen Curry's skin.

Beverley invaded Curry's space and pressed up against him, an approach that prompted a push and technical foul for the Warriors star. Ariza later chimed in, bumping Curry and sparking a near fight.

MORE: Curry's insane pass to Lee | Source: Raptors 'absolutely not' trading Ross | Midseason rookie rankings

In that moment, the Rockets turned to desperate measures, but they might have stumbled upon a new approach to defending Curry, who is just as dangerous with the ball in his hands as he is without it.

That scenario forced me to pose a few questions, namely: Was this incident a flash in the pan or the start of a burgeoning trend? And should more teams try to get physical with Curry? The answers are complicated.

Curry himself, who spoke to Sporting News as part of a Degree Men campaign, viewed the dustup as more of a singular moment.

"It was more of an isolated incident," Curry said. "The way that game unfolded, it was a pretty standard competitive game through the first half and we built a huge lead. Honestly, teams are going to try to find different ways to get under your skin, or try to get back into the game any way that can. That was one of the tactics they wanted to use, and try to get us out of our game. Which it didn't work."

Well, the Rockets didn't succeed in getting back into the game, but they did manage to get under Curry's skin. He was madder than anyone has ever seen him on a basketball court, including his head coach, Steve Kerr.

"It was more that it was kind of a perfect storm of events leading up to it," Curry said. "I'd gotten one of my rare technicals the play before and had been kind of going back and forth with Patrick Beverley, and then you feel like you're minding your own business and you get a little love tap from Trevor.

"At that point, you just want to protect yourself and make sure they know that you're here and you're not going to accept cheap shots or whatever."

But while he had never been held back from a possible fight, Curry is feisty and often responds to contact by raining threes before the defense can reach him. That makes sense when one considers Curry's approach on offense.

During the 2013-14 season, 87 percent of Curry's attempts were jump shots. Curry, who averaged 24.0 points per game, also produced 17.3 points on outside attempts. This year has presented more of the same. The average distance of Curry's shots is 17.0 feet, with more than 61.6 percent of his attempts coming from 16 feet out.

Considering that approach, it would make sense for teams to fight Curry before the Warriors set up screens and bump him on the wings.


ilar to the Rockets scenario, the majority of physical play against Curry would need to come off the ball. Approximately 31 percent of Curry's jump shot attempts in the 2013-14 season were assisted, so that accounts for a solid chunk of his offense.

Digging into the Warriors' playbook provides even more reason for opponents to pay more attention to Curry and contain him off the ball.

The Warriors' screen-the-screener set is a great example of that. Curry should receive ample attention in situations like this, but defenders are so concerned with containing the dribble and protecting the rim that Curry gets free for open looks.

Curry often starts the offense and becomes a screener, which can lull defenders to sleep and cause them to lose one of the NBA's best shooters.

A major issue with corralling Curry is the team around him. Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and others have developed over the years and can be just as dangerous as Curry. In fact, Thompson has sat in the driver's seat more than ever this season, and he recently produced a 52-point performance.

Then there is the small issue of Curry being among the best players in the world. Curry also is among the NBA's best free-throw shooters and can hurt opponents at the line if fouled in the act of shooting.

As a smaller player, it's likely that Curry has outplayed bigger, stronger players in the past. When asked about the subject, Curry said he and the Warriors are ready for any contact that comes their way.

"Over the course of the season, you're going to get some physical teams that try to get into you and use that to their advantage," Curry said, "but as long as we stay on the aggressive, stay composed and stay within our selves as a team, we feel like we can be ready for anything."