Last But Not Least: Steph Curry

Curry

Stephen Curry is the last guy to make the Whats Left on The Floor top point guard list. Curry is really a guy who would’ve been in the top five last season but injuries plagued him for a majority of that time.

In his second season Curry really started to come into his own. You could see there was a lot of potential there for him to be a really good player. He almost joined the 40-50-90 club. He had a shooting percentage of 48% and barely missed the cut. In that season he shot 48% from the floor, 93% from the free throw line, and 44% from beyond the arch.

I really expected him to make the jump into the top points in the league last season, but again the injuries hampered him for too long. This season its been a different story. He’s been able to flourish with the Warriors as their primary creator and as a shooting savant. Curry’s season this year has gotten him plenty of All-Star consideration and he deserves it.

What he does well

Curry is one of the best shooters in the league and he’s playing at the point guard position. That’s always a huge plus for a team. He can shoot the shot that has the most value very well. Earning extra points per attempt isn’t a challenge.

This season Curry is averaging 20.2 points per game with 6.4 assists per game and 4. 3 rebounds per game. He’s shooting 43% from the field after a very slow start to the beginning of his season and he’s shooting 45% from beyond the arch. That’s right on par with his career average from three.

Curry’s got a 57% TS clip and has an offensive rating of 111. He’s got a PER of 18.1 and a usage rating of 24.7%. Curry isn’t having his best season shooting, by any means, but the Warriors are winning with his contributions. He’s been his numbers for a majority of the season after a slow 10 game start and his versatility as a  player has been key in getting the Warriors to 22-12.

What impresses me the most about Curry is how well he shoots the three ball. That includes off of the pick and roll–something that you don’t normally see from point guards. There are only a handful of names that have as quick of a trigger as Curry off of picks. Guys like Chauncey Billups and the Utah Deron Williams come to mind. Curry may be a better shooter from three than all of them ever were or will be.

Right now, Curry is getting .80 points per possession off of pick and rolls when he shoots the ball, per Synergy Sports Technology. He’s taken 158 shots off of picks. 50 of those shots have been three point attempts. Out of those 50 three point attempts off of picks he’s made 22 of them. He can take that shot because of how quickly he develops his shot form. Even with a relatively small amount of space he’ll take and make those shots. Take a look at the video below.

A hard hedge was given to try to buy some time for Mike Conley to recover from the screen and keep Curry from shooting. For the most part that worked and Conley was able to recover pretty well. He gave a very good contest but still Curry ended up shooting the three and draining it. His quick trigger and accuracy with the deep ball enables him to do that. Very rarely do we see a combination of such shooting skill–especially in today’s point guards.

Curry has also become an adept passer off of the pick and roll. The reason why his assist percentage is only 28.4% is because there are times where he isn’t used as the point guard in the W’s offense. He’s one of the reasons why Jarrett Jack is playing so well this season, but we’ll get into that later. Curry’s assist numbers have increased from season’s past where he was used off the ball more than he is now. He’s averaging a career high 6.4 assists because he’s the main creator and he’s improved so much as a point guard in the last two years. Take a look at Curry’s passing in this video below.

Off of a Festus Ezili pick, Curry takes the ball and dribbles toward the paint. Marc Gasol is forced to pay attention to Curry rather than Ezili because of Curry’s jump shot and, well, because Festus Ezili isn’t an offensive threat unless he’s at the rim. Curry recognizes this and also sees that the help has come too late off of David Lee. Ezili has the path to the rim for a dunk and Curry feeds him the ball with a perfect pocket pass.

As a point guard, that’s something that you have to be able to do in a split second. Curry recognized the defensive coverage and saw who had the open look. With all shooters on the floor and coming up in the paint to defend your jump shot, no one was at the rim. For him to see that shows the significant improvement he’s made since first coming into the NBA.

Curry’s versatility between positions is something that I really appreciate. That’s what gives him the nod over other guards of his caliber in my opinion. He can switch positions to the other guard spot and still be an effective player. Being able to open up opportunities for others is what being a point guard is all about.

Late in the games, Mark Jackson will normally have a lineup that features Jarrett Jack and Curry at each guard position, Klay Thompson at the small forward position, Carl Landry at the power forward spot, and David Lee at center. One of my favorite sets this year has come from this lineup.

Each big will set a backscreen on each side of the floor and Jackson will have Curry and Thompson run off of them. If the first look doesn’t work, they’ll run across the floor next to each other essentially setting a pick for each other and then run off of another backscreen on the opposite end of the floor. Then they’ll either flare the screen out to the corner or curl up to the wing depending on how the defender is playing them. Then, the bigs will cut to the screen if one of their men have hedged to prevent a three point shot. Its really a beautiful set that’s created from the dynamic shooting ability of this team. Curry plays a huge part in that.

The bad

While Curry has an elite jump shot from beyond the arch, he tends to struggle to get to the rim. According to hoopdata, he’s only taking 1.7 shots at the rim per game. The silver lining in that is he’s shooting 57% from there, but he’s only making one shot there per game. That’s got to increase in the coming years if Curry ever wants to move up on this list.

Curry often overdribbles the ball, too. That leads to a lot of turnovers on his part. His dribbles are often insecure and it can be disrupted in that way. When holding a pocket on the pick and roll, he often tries to split it and will end up losing control and try to pass the ball out. Sometimes its successful and sometimes it isn’t, depending on how much of a handle he has on it. But that’s something that he has to get better at as well. I think as he learns to become a better point guard, that will come in time.

Overall, Curry is a very good point guard with a lot of potential still. I think he’ll continue to improve his game in the coming years and be one of the best at the position.

Big thanks to Synergy Sports, Hoopdata and basketball-reference for their wonderful numbers, stats, and video.  

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