The Golden State Warriors lead their best-of-seven playoff series against the Denver Nuggets 3-1. The way things are trending in the other western conference playoff series, it looks like the path to the NBA Finals have opened up for the Dubs. Their offense is the best in the playoffs so far with a 125.4 rating, and their best player Stephen Curry is coming off the bench. His humility and willingness to come off the bench is feeding “royal jelly” to players like Jordan Poole, and is the key to their next dynastic run.
Should Steph Curry ask to keep coming off of the bench, even if he's fully healthy? Would he be considered the 'Greatest Teammate Ever' if he did?
— First Things First (@FTFonFS1) April 22, 2022
Basketball player development guru and TrueHoop analyst David Thorpe, has long espoused the value of “royal jelly.” It’s the the bee secretion that is used to feed bee larvae that turns them into queens.
According to Thorpe, players like Michael Jordan and LeBron James were going to be great no matter the environment. But everyone else needs a nurturing, supportive environment to achieve their full potential. That’s the royal jelly.
Jordan Poole is averaging 24 ppg this playoffs. Up six points from his season average. With Curry coming off the bench, it has allowed head coach Steve Kerr to play Poole in the starting lineup. The trust shown by Kerr and the star player being OK with Poole shining is instrumental in the Warriors success.
The NBA is a hyper-competitive league, rife with jealousy and insecurities. A move like this could easily derail a team that doesn’t have the right culture and leadership in place.
As Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson age, the team will need to start giving more minutes to Poole, Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody, and James Wiseman.
Giving those guys minutes now, and for the established stars allowing them to start and shine. This is the type of culture that builds dynasties.
In the 20 seasons from 1997-2017 the San Antonio Spurs made the playoffs every year. They advanced to 10 conference finals, and six NBA Finals, winning five titles. That is a remarkable level of consistency and success. They were a dynasty.
In ’97 they drafted a generational superstar talent in Tim Duncan, paired him with an aging David Robinson for the early success. Once Robinson retired and Duncan was in his prime, they added Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker forming a new core. As they aged, Kawhi Leonard became the dominant two-way wrecking force that extended the run.
Like Duncan, Curry is that generational talent for the Warriors. As fierce a competitor as the 6’10 power forward and as humble and willing to be coached, to sacrifice and do whatever is necessary to win.
Kerr played with the Spurs and won two titles at the end of his playing career and has often talked about the similarities between Curry and Duncan.
“The combination of humility and humor, and then total confidence on the floor,” Kerr said, explaining the similarities between Curry and Duncan. “It’s such an amazing combination. A lot of people who have the humor and the humility, usually guys like that are the ones who are at the end of the bench. So when you have a superstar that has that type of combination, it’s so rare and incredibly powerful.”
That’s all part of the royal jelly. If the best player on the team, a two-time league MVP, and three-time champion, one of the greatest players of all time is willing to humble himself and sacrifice. How could the 10th, 11th, and 12th guys not? How could that attitude not permeate the whole squad and allow for other players to be the best versions of themselves?
Royal jelly isn’t perfect. Sometimes things just don’t work out for one reason or another. But the more royal jelly they spread, chances are the Warriors will set them up for a long run of continued success.