Wednesday April 20th, 2016

Stephen Curry’s pregame routine attracts thousands of onlookers. He launches dozens of perfect three-point shots, completes mesmerizing ball-handling drills with two basketballs, and concludes by sinking a long shot from the tunnel leading to the locker room.

He also shouts “Lock in!” to his five million followers on Twitter. He has delivered the same message since the Warriors visited the Brooklyn Nets on Dec. 7, 2012, when he “locked in” two hours and 41 minutes before tip-off. 

Since then, Curry has begun to tweet closer and closer to the start of games to the point that it has become a consistent violation of the NBA’s Twitter policy. During Golden State’s record-breaking 73-win season, Curry appears to have broken an NBA rule by tweeting fewer than 45 minutes before game time a whopping 44 times.

Has there been a correlation between the time before a game Curry tweets and how he plays? Could there possibly be a weak spot in this superhero’s impossibly consistent production?

We took a closer look at Curry’s 2015–16 season in relation to his pregame tweeting tradition. 

When should Steph Curry “Lock In”?
 
time before game (minutes) Instances PPG FG% 3PT% Ast/Gm
No Tweet 2 37.5 60.8% 50.0% 8.5
60+ 17 30.5 52.7% 44.9% 5.8
35-59 32 31.6 50.7% 45.1% 7.2
21-34 17 24.9 44.6% 39.9% 6.8
15-20 11 31.5 50.7% 45.2% 8.5

Note: Data consists of 2015–16 season only

In the two games Curry elected not to tweet “Lock In!” he averaged 37.5 points, 8.5 assists and shot 50% from three. In addition, the 17 times he tweeted between 21 and 34 minutes prior to game time, his scoring dipped significantly. 

Of course, Golden State was so incredible during the season that its record isn’t worth measuring within each of these time frames. Though we should note that the Warriors were 25–0 in the 25 games that Curry sent his pregame tweet more than 50 minutes before game time

Now, when you see Curry’s next “Lock In!” tweet, you’ll know how to interpret it.

PLAYOFF UPDATE (June 17): We decided to look at Curry’s performances based on his pregame tweet, and there’s a pretty clear difference in his effectiveness.

Steph Curry’s 2016 postseason based on pregame tweet
 
time before game (minutes) TWEETs ppg fg% 3PT% APG W–L
No Tweet 1 19.0 30.0% 20.0% 5.0 0–1
45 or fewer 8 22.4 48.1% 45.4% 4.3 5–3
More than 45 8 28.9 43.5% 40.6% 6.6 6–2

So, while he doesn’t shoot as well, he’s been at his best when tweeting more than 45 minutes ahead of the game, and the Warriors have fared slightly better. When he didn’t tweet, that one time, he was pretty awful—the complete opposite of what our regular season study found.

Don’t tweet too close to game time, Steph! 

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