Golden State Warriors

Stat Just Happened: Draymond Green and Stephen Curry's connection is stronger than ever

"Stat Just Happened" is our new series where we'll pair an important stat with how it actually unfolded on the floor. Our aim? To answer key questions, uncover hidden truths and peel back the curtain on why some numbers matter more than others.

182

According to NBA.com, that's how many times Draymond Green has assisted Stephen Curry this season.

Why is that notable? It's the most anyone in the league has assisted one of their teammates ... by a mile.

In second place is Chris Paul, who has assisted Deandre Ayton on 137 baskets. In third place is Russell Westbrook, who has assisted Bradley Beal on 135 baskets.

Rounding out the top five is Trae Young to John Collins (132) and Young to Clint Capela (128).

Highest assist combinations this season (PBP Stats)
Rank Assist Player Scorer Assists
1 Draymond Green Stephen Curry 182
T-2 Chris Paul Deandre Ayton 137
T-2 Russell Westbrook Bradley Beal 137
4 Trae Young John Collins 132
5 Trae Young Clint Capela 128

Green assisting Curry as much as he has to this point of the season speaks to a couple of things. The first? How freaking exhausting it is guarding Curry.

To borrow a line from Minnesota Timberwolves rookie Anthony Edwards, "he never stop moving." Curry is perhaps best known for what he does with the ball in his hands - the deep pull-ups, the shifty crossovers, the floaters that touch the sky - but he's equally as terrifying when he doesn't have the ball in his hands. The fact that he's leading the league in scoring off of screens while ranking in the top half of the league in efficiency this season only paints part of the picture of his off-ball prowess.

Because that doesn't account for are the amount of times Curry burns his defender with a well-timed backdoor cut.

Or the amount of times he loses his defender with a ghost screen, which is exactly what it sounds like.

Or the amount of times he sneaks his way into the one shot the defence is hoping to prevent in transition.

That brings to the second thing that number speaks to: Green's telepathic bond with Curry.

All of Curry's movement means nothing if nobody is going to reward him for it. "Pass the ball to the greatest shooter in NBA history when he's open" sounds easy in principle, but Green is unique in a few ways. One, he's 6-foot-6 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, the combination of which helps him see and pass over defenders. Two, there aren't many big men who have better vision than he does. The only players in the entire league currently averaging more assists than Green (8.7) are Chris Paul (8.8), Luka Doncic (8.9), Trae Young (9.5), James Harden (10.9) and Russell Westbrook (11.4). Three, he's always looking for Curry.

And I mean always.

The downside is that Green rarely looks for his own shot anymore - he's averaging 5.9 field goal attempts per game this season, his fewest since he was a sophomore (5.6) - but him constantly looking for Curry means the defence is one false move from the league's leading scorer finding a slither of daylight.

Take your foot off the gas when Curry gives up the ball? You should've known better.

Take your eye off of Curry for a split-second? It's over.

Botch a switch? You'll wish you hadn't.

Even backing off of Green when he's surveying the court at the top of the 3-point line is tricky business.

It makes sense to ignore someone who is shooting 25.2 percent from 3-point range, but all it does is put more pressure on Curry's defender to get around Green's brutish screens when the two are involved in a handoff.

(Curry also leads the league in scoring off of handoffs, by the way. And he's been highly efficient, ranking in the 93rd percentile with an average of 1.30 points per possession. Unreal).

The key with Green is that he can keep the defence honest with his passing. It's not just that he'll find Curry when he's open. It's that he'll find the open man when teams get overly aggressive with Curry, which happens a lot.

Whether he's sprinting off of a screen...

...or running a pick-and-roll...

...Curry is a magnet for double teams and traps, and Green thrives in those 4-on-3 scenarios with his quick decisions and pinpoint passes.

"When he gets in a groove like that where he's getting everybody involved, and having a Draymond-type night where scoring's not really the difference-maker, it's the way that he does the intangibles," Curry said following Golden State's recent win over the Denver Nuggets, a game in which Green dished out a career-best 19 assists. "And then makes everybody better by getting the ball on time, can finish off plays.

"He's the smartest basketball player I've played with, and it shows in moments and games like tonight where he just finds a way to impact winning in his own way."

Of course, Green and Curry picking teams apart with surgical precision isn't anything new - the two have been teammates for nine seasons and have won three championships together - but in a season where the Warriors are missing their second-best scorer in Klay Thompson due to an injury, the two of them have taken their connection to another level.

The proof is in that one key number...

182

The views on this page do not necessarily represent the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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