Eye-test-wise, this might be the best version of Steph Curry we've ever seen. But stats tell a different story.
Curry's performance thus far
With a quarter of the season in the books, the 33-year-old is putting up 27.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, 6.5 assists, leading the Warriors to a league-best 19-4 record. The superstar point guard is the only player in the league to drop 50 in a game. He also has the most 40+ point games this season; four so far.
Curry's improvement on the defensive end -- top 20 in deflections and steals -- combined with a daily occurrence of jaw-dropping plays on offense is enough for some to declare Steph the best player in the world this early into the season. But a deep dive into his efficiency stats might lead you to a different conclusion.
Struggling with finishing at the rim
After a 7-for-28 shooting performance in a loss to the Spurs on Saturday, Curry's TS% has dropped to 61.2% from 65.5% last season. And while his three-point efficiency has been up to standard (41% on 13.2 attempts), Curry's percentages inside the arc are the reason for a drop-off in overall scoring efficiency.
Curry's season-long struggles with finishing at the rim culminated with an extremely inefficient three-game scoring stretch, right after he dropped 33 points -- 13 in the fourth quarter -- to lead the Warriors to a 105-90 win against the Clippers. What Steph has done since has been at the very least atypical for a player of his stature.
What Curry lacks in height he more than makes up for with his craftiness, perfectly utilizing the constant threat of his pull-up game. That's why the greatest shooter of all time has been able to develop into one of the NBA's best finishers around the rim -- 64.7% on shots from within 3 feet of the rim for his career, per Basketball Reference.
Over the years, Steph used his three-point shooting to expand his offensive repertoire even more. But the long-range shot has always been the foundation of his game. Curry is keeping the same trend this season, with approximately 20% of his shots coming from within 4 feet of the basket. But what's with the efficiency drop?
Load management needed?
After a loss against San Antonio broke Golden State's streak of 11 wins at home, Curry has now played 22 of the Warriors' 23 games this season. He's on pace to play 78, the most since his 2016-17 NBA season. For a 33-year-old dealing with complex defensive schemes on a nightly basis, countering them with an-all time high level of off-ball movement, mostly through screens, that might be too much.
Curry might not feel like it is. He might not even play like it is. But an efficiency drop we're seeing from him 24 games into the season is a good enough indicator for the Warriors to at least keep an eye on Steph's playing time.
Klay Thompson's return should take a huge load off Curry's back, especially on the offensive end. But more importantly, it will allow Steph to conserve energy, even when he's on the floor. That's when we might see Steph get back to the efficiency marks we're used to seeing from him.
Until then, if you think this isn't the best version of Curry we've ever seen, there's an argument to be made. But I have a feeling Baby-Faced Assassin will prove you wrong come the end of the season.