Warriors’ Stephen Curry using lasers, sci-fi technology to get even better
Standing at 6-foot-3 and just under 200 pounds, Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry is the size of a larger-than-average human. He’s certainly bigger than most people you’ll encounter on a daily basis, but not big enough to stand out or look freakish. No, that would be a majority of the rest of the NBA.
Curry will never be the biggest or the fastest or the strongest. He’ll never be the tallest or the most athletic. He’s a better athlete than most give him credit for — he’s not as psychically limited as, say, Steve Nash was — but compared to most NBA athletes, he’s about average at best.
So how is he so darn good? Besides his quick handle, legendary shooting and keen court vision, Curry is just a ridiculously smart player who’s willing to put in the time and effort to get a teensy bit better each offseason.
How, though, can Curry get better? If he’s already maximized his physical potential, and he’s basically as good at dribbling, passing and shooting as one can be, what’s the next step?
Well, it’s slowing the game down and making it easier for Curry to make the proper read on a given possession. He’s already so good at that, but a point guard can always be better, and Curry has dealt with turnover issues in the past because of his sometimes-reckless habits.
Which brings us to lasers and sci-fi technology. Curry uses a FitLight trainer — demonstrated here by the Toronto Raptors — which, according to ESPN.com, uses "portable lights, manifold of color, capable of being activated and deactivated by touch. It also sends instant, downloadable data about the workout. The flashing lights train you to react, to focus, to choose."
That’s some heady stuff. Curry is using the cognitive workouts to help him sharpen his decision-making skills within the context of the Warriors’ offense: Should he take a 2-pointer or a 3-pointer? Should he pass or shoot? Which player is open? Where?
"One light signifies, ‘Are you supposed to shoot a 2 or a 3?’ The second light signifies what move you’re making into the shot," Brandon Payne of Accelerate Basketball, Curry’s trainer since the 2011 lockout, told ESPN."He’s making those decisions in the last six feet right before he gets to the 3-point line."
All of these choices factor into Curry’s ability to efficiently run the juggernaut that is the Warriors’ offense. And it’s paramount that he has enough reps to effortlessly make the right decision in a moment’s notice.
"We associate different moves with the color that you see, and so it’s a reactive drill," Curry told ESPN. "It kind of simulates game situations where you’re coming down in transition and you see a defender’s left leg’s higher than his right and you gotta make a move to get by him. That happens in a split-second decision."
For Curry, it’s all about efficiency. He knows his strengths and weaknesses, and that self-awareness makes him the special, if not transcendent, player he is today. But he knows that he can fine-tune those strengths and be even better, even deadlier. And he’s willing to put in the necessary work — even if it seems like he’s a superhero on a sci-fi movie set, and not a basketball player in some of the drills — that will help keep him at the top of the NBA’s proverbial mountain.
"We’ve got to create space with the least amount of dribbles," Payne said. "We want to create the most space with the least. We want to minimize things that take time."