What Would Losing Stephen Curry Mean for the Golden State Warriors' NBA Finals Odds?
By just about any indication, Stephen Curry was one of the NBA's best players in 2014-15.
His Player Efficiency Rating of 28.0 ranked third in the NBA, as did his Win Shares (15.7). His Box Score Plus/Minus of 9.9 was second in the Association.
By some indications, he was the best. He graded out first in our nERD metric, which indicates how many wins above or below .500 a team would finish with a given player as a starter. Curry's mark of 20.5 was also the 16th-best mark since 2000.
Curry's Net Rating (the difference between his Offensive Rating and Defensive Rating) of 17.0 was best in the regular season, as well. Throw in a first-place finish in Value Over Replacement Player (7.9) and in ESPN's Real Plus Minus (9.20) and their Wins Above Replacement (19.83), and it's no wonder why Curry earned MVP honors for the year.
So when Curry experienced a terrifying fall to the hardwood in the Golden State Warriors' Game 4 loss to the Houston Rockets, the league's best team temporarily lost the league's best player.
Thankfully for both humanity and NBA fans alike, Curry returned to the floor in the second half, and he currently looks to be ready to go for Game 5.
But if the Warriors wind up executing some caution or if Curry is unable to return to the floor, how would Golden State's 75.5 percent chance to win the NBA Finals change?
Well, their 96.5 percent chance to finish off the Rockets would slip to about 93.7 percent, thanks to the buffer they've built up with their three wins.
As for their NBA Final odds, they'd drop from 75.5 percent to 60.4 percent, leaving more of the door open for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Cavs' odds currently sit at 20.7 percent, which is pretty minuscule considering that there are only four teams left and that two are on the brink of elimination. That just speaks to how dominant the Warriors with Curry have been.
Their championship odds would jump up to 33.7 percent if Curry is unable to take the court again, making the Warriors still an overwhelming favorite. For the curious, the Atlanta Hawks would have a 2.7 percent chance to win it all, and the Rockets would jump up to 3.3 percent sans-Curry, .
Of course, because Curry is such an impactful player, the margin of error with these projections is substantial.
In the regular season, the Warriors played roughly half as many minutes without Curry (1,331) than they did with him (2,615). With Curry, the team boasted an Offensive Rating of 116.6. Without him, that dropped to 102.3. Their defense was 3.5 points per 100 possessions better with Curry (100.0) than without him (103.5). That's why Curry's Net Rating was so dang good this year.
The Warriors actually have a worse Offensive Rating with Curry in the playoffs (108.9) than without him (112.7), but that comes in 529 minutes with Curry compared to just 148 without him. Also, Golden State's Defensive Rating of 99.3 with him is substantially better than the 111.4 without him, giving him a Net Rating of 9.6.
It's stating the obvious that losing Curry -- the playoff leader in Win Shares per 48 minutes (.257) and in Box Score Plus/Minus (9.5) -- would swing the fate of the playoffs, but according to our algorithms, the Warriors are good enough to still be favored over the Cavs (or the Hawks, if they make history).
With or without Curry, the Warriors are still on track to make history of their own and secure their first NBA Title since 1974-75.