NBA Star Power Index: Stephen Curry Slowly Warming Up; Anthony Edwards puts together an Appreciation package

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Welcome back to NBA Star Power Index: A weekly display of the players who are causing the most stir in the league. Being on this list isn’t necessarily a good thing – it simply means you’re catching the attention of the NBA world. Again, this is not a ranking. The players listed are in no particular order. This column will run every week during the regular season.

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Fingers crossed but Curry may break out of his career-worst shooting crisis. After missing 95 of his previous 135 3-point attempts, Curry knocked down 7 of 14 triples in a 40-point show against the Rockets on Monday. He scored 21 of those points in the fourth quarter. It was the highest-scoring fourth quarter of Curry’s career and the 37th time he had scored at least 20 points in a single quarter and passed Kobe Bryant for the NBA record.

Those curry floods in which he gets searingly hot with the proverbial flick of a switch, which used to be a fairly regular occurrence, have become all too rare, but he hit four straight shots to start last Tuesday’s game against Dallas and had another stretch of four straight marks against the Timberwolves last Thursday. On Monday, Curry hit five straight jumpers in the fourth quarter, which was the first real shot stretch that felt like the old human torch.

That’s not enough proof that Curry is out of trouble. A game before the 40-point breakout, he went 3 for 10 from deep against the nets. We need to see this consistently for at least a few more games. But there’s no doubt he’s looking confident again, while the Warriors have won eight of their last 10 and remain the second-best record in the league.

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Edwards sums it all up from a scoring standpoint, notwithstanding his five-point show on Tuesday’s 2-of-8 shooting. The Timberwolves dominated the Nuggets from start to finish and Edwards only played 26 minutes. There was no real need to step on the gas and the game quickly went wrong.

We know Edward’s powerful athleticism. He will dive into everyone. He has an explosive first step, making it even more impossible to protect his step-back 3s while defenders prepare for his downhill attack. He can create his own shot, scout and shoot on the go. For the month of January, Edwards averaged 23.5 points on more than 46 percent shooting, including 38 percent from 3. Take a look at how his shot percentage has evolved month-on-month this season:

October

49.6%

November

54.4%

December

59.0%

January

60.2%

A scout speaking to CBS Sports about another story in the works told me to take a look at Edward’s finishing footwork, particularly the way he slows down near the edge with long strides or euro strides to interfere with defenders’ timing or weave through and around them like traffic cones. Here’s a look at what he’s talking about.

Edwards is already one of the funniest players in the league, and he’s not a jacker with good stats and a bad team like some of his detractors would have you believe when he left college. The Wolves are currently No. 7 in the West (best play-in team), three games in the losing column behind Denver for an unqualified playoff berth.

Among all the lineups that have combined at least 400 possessions this season, Minnesota’s five-man unit of Edwards, D’Angelo Russell, Patrick Beverley, Jared Vanderbilt and Karl-Anthony Towns comfortably has the best up 32.5 per 100 The league’s net valuation of possessions, according to Cleaning the Glass. As long as Edwards is on the court, Wolves started Tuesday at a healthy 5.3 per 100 for the season, according to CTG.

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Antetokounmpo had 33 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists in Milwaukee’s win over the Wizards on Tuesday. It was the 29th triple-double of his career, one more than Michael Jordan and good enough for 18th on the all-time list. Since December 13, Giannis has scored at least 25 points in 16 straight games.

As Wednesday begins, the Bucks are fifth in the East, but they are just one game back in the No. 3 seed’s losing column and three behind the top seed. Milwaukee is 20-5 with Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton all playing.

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ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne released a comprehensive report on Tuesday detailing the many layers of the standoff between Ben Simmons and the 76ers, which appears to be making no headway. Meanwhile, Simmons has already lost $19 million by sitting out to this point, and if he doesn’t play for the rest of the season as penalties continue to accrue, he will lose a total of $32 million. That’s over 50 percent of Simmons’ career earnings to date. whoops

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Jokic continues to be the MVP leader for my money, although Joel Embiid and Antetokounmpo are hot on his heels. Jokic posted 18 points, 15 assists and nine rebounds for the Bucks on Sunday, needing just nine shots to lead the Nuggets to a 36-point loss for the defending champions, who tied with the aforementioned 20-5 Antetokounmpo triumvirate, Khris , played Middleton and Jrue Holiday.

Despite going all season without Jamal Murray and mostly without Michael Porter Jr., Jokic has the Nuggets just a game back in the Western Conference No. 4 losing column.

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