Stephen Curry's trainer explains why the NBA's greatest shooter will break out of a bizarre, career-worst slump

Stephen Curry's trainer explains why the NBA's greatest shooter will break out of a bizarre, career-worst slump
Stephen Curry is in the midst of a slump.Jed Jacobsohn/AP Images
  • Stephen Curry is in the worst shooting slump of his career.
  • Curry may be battling hand ailments, but he's also missing shots he normally makes.

The NBA's greatest shooter suddenly can't make a shot.

Maybe not literally, but Stephen Curry is going through a shooting slump that has been unheard of for the all-time leader in three-pointers.

Through 12 games in January, Curry is shooting just 36.5% from the field and 29.1% from three. Since setting the record for all-time made threes on December 14, Curry has made just 64 of his last 197 threes, good for 32.5%.

Consider that, in the NBA, where shooting 40% on threes is considered an elite mark, Curry has shot above 40% in all but two seasons — his injury-marred, five-game 2019-20 campaign and this season. He's shot above 42% from three in 10 seasons, all while taking some of the most audacious attempts possible and receiving heightened attention from defenses.

However, Brandon Payne, Curry's personal trainer who has worked with the two-time MVP since 2011, isn't particularly concerned about this unusual slump.


"I've always said this: I think a Stephen Curry jump shot is one of the best plays in basketball, and I still believe that," Payne told Insider. "And it takes a lot more than a 10- or 12-game stretch to change my mind about that."

The root of Curry's struggles is unclear

Curry has had slumps before, but never one so pronounced or prolonged. On January 13, hours before shooting 4-of-11 and 2-of-6 from three in a blowout loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, Curry told reporters that he was confident he would snap out of this cold streak by sticking to his routine.

'I'm never results-based," Curry said via The Athletic's Anthony Slater. "The approach and what you do going into the game remains the same. Eventually, it will turn around. Can't lose confidence in what you do. Big picture."

However, in the six games since, Curry is shooting just 28% from three. After a win over the Utah Jazz on January 23, in which he shot just 1-of-13 from three, Curry admitted he is searching a bit.

"I'm not worried about the [shot] selection as much as figuring out what needs to change in terms of knocking them down and finding the joy of shooting the ball," Curry said. "That's always a part of my game. I got to be better at that."

Stephen Curry's trainer explains why the NBA's greatest shooter will break out of a bizarre, career-worst slump
Stephen Curry.Jeff Chiu/AP Images

Payne said he believes the Warriors' offense has changed a bit this season. Payne thinks the ball is swinging from side to side less often and that Curry is doing less relocating — giving up the ball, then running to a new spot to get open. This is likely the result of fatigue on Curry's end, the absence of Draymond Green (who has been out while dealing with back and calf injuries), and the growth of other Warriors players.

Slater noted a similar theme, pointing out a play from the Bucks game in which Curry gave up the ball on a hard double-team, then floated on the perimeter instead of relocating.

Additionally, on the "Warriors Plus-Minus" podcast, Slater said that Curry might also be dealing with hand injuries — one from a fall on his right shooting hand and one from jamming his finger on his left hand, which guides the ball. Slater said Curry has had his finger wrapped and was noticeably struggling during a recent shootaround.

The possibility of a physical malady could explain why Curry is even missing his easier looks. According to tracking data on, Curry is shooting just 32.6% on "open" three-pointers — when a defender is within 4-6 feet of him. Last year, he shot 43.2% on such shots.

Payne believes it's a matter of time until Curry breaks out of it

Stephen Curry's trainer explains why the NBA's greatest shooter will break out of a bizarre, career-worst slump
Stephen Curry has worked too hard to let this slump continue, his trainer says.Jeff Chiu/AP Images

Payne does see some mechanical issues that can be tweaked, though he's hesitant to say what, exactly. Payne said Curry could focus more on the balance of his shot and moving his body in "sequence" — tiny details that up to a full picture. He confirmed that Curry has reached out to Payne to ask his opinion on this slump.


Curry and Payne's work together speaks for itself — as The Wall Street Journal's Ben Cohen previously reported, Curry and Payne worked on making only swishes this past offseason, trying to bring a near-perfect shooting motion closer to flawless.

Payne said that work would carry Curry through this slump, physically and mentally.

"I've known him for so long, and I've seen him work through so many things, and he's one of the — not only physically toughest — but one of the mentally toughest people I've ever been around," Payne said. "I mean, sure, things can start to kind of build up in your mind a little bit, but his confidence doesn't waver because he's just put too much work into it. There's too much excellence equity that's been in place."

Others certainly haven't lost confidence in Curry. Warriors head coach Steve Kerr recently sarcastically told reporters that Curry "is no longer a three-point shooter," saying he'll have to change his game going forward. It was an obvious vote of confidence in his star player returning to form.

"Stephen is always one shot away from being on fire," Payne said. "It only takes one [shot] feeling really good when it leaves your hands for him to catch fire. So I don't think that it's something that's gonna last much longer."