NBA Lightning Strike
Is there some big game in football this weekend? Hmmm, whatever.
If you don’t get the opportunity to watch this generation’s greatest shooter then at least read about him. And I’m not talking about Kevin Durant, even though he’s my MVP and the best offensive player in the game at the moment. And while LeBron James may be the best player, most versatile defender, and this generation’s Jordan (yeah I said it), the game’s best shooter and most fun player to watch (unless J.R. Smith decides to show up) is without a doubt Steph Curry. His rise to fame is the typical underdog story in college basketball as he led Davidson to the Elite 8 and wowed the nation with his scoring and shooting. When he entered the draft, the experts were all over the map as to his pro potential. While all praised his shooting ability and perceived craftiness, the doubters cited his lack of size, combo-guard status, and lack of athleticism, explosiveness, and physicality as reasons to be wary. He went 7th to Golden State. The only two players taken ahead of him that are stars are Blake Griffin and James Harden. Hashem Thabeet (2nd), Tyreke Evans (4th), Ricky Rubio (5th), and Johnny Flynn (6th) all haven’t lived up to the hype, although Evans and Rubio aren’t complete busts. So the college boy wonder entered the pros with some doubts.
He joined the Warriors that already including the volume-shooting, out-of-control Monte Ellis as the starting point guard. Curry certainly didn’t struggle but there were clearly chemistry issues between these two young guards. With the Warriors going nowhere, a bold trade occurred sending Ellis to the Bucks for often-injured big man Andrew Bogut. Curry began to come into his own and the additions of Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, and Andre Igoudala to go along with Burry, Bogut, and David Lee, the Warriors have become more than relevant in the loaded Western Conference. But it is Curry that makes this team go and his star just continues to rise.
Curry averages just under 20 points a game for his career and that number is trending up. He scored a season high 44 points last night in a come-from-behind win against the Jazz. His 8 threes easily led the team and he shot 53% from the floor. What is more impressive is that Utah led 77-68 early in the fourth but Curry mounted a 12-0 run to put the stumbling Warriors in the lead for good. The 25 year-old scored his 6,000 point in the game last night and is keeping his team in the top-8. Everyone knows Curry can score. He set the record for most 3-pointers in a season last year with 272. What is more impressive though is the improvement in other areas of his game.
Remember that scouts were worried about Curry’s ability to handle the point guard position. He has put a lot of doubts to rest in this area. By no means is Curry as pure a point guard as Chris Paul or Rajon Rondo, but he is steadily becoming a floor general. He is averaging 6.6 assists for his career and just like his points-per-game that number is trending up. He controls his team very well and as improved as a defender. Yes, he will never be the most athletic defender or explosive slasher, but watch his game and you will see someone who understands the art and beauty of basketball. His array of shots is truly stunning, everything from step-back, fade-away threes to high, arching tear drop floaters in the lane to glistening reverse layups as he contorts around the “trees” guarding the basket. His numbers simply continue to impress as you dive deeper, most importantly his shooting percentages. He averages for his career 46.3% from the floor. That is outstanding although he would say that he can do better.
Curry has one of the premium shooting strokes in the game. You have to watch it to see it but he battles Ray Allen in regards to the beauty of his shot. Curry is a gunner yes, but with his volume also comes efficiency, as seen by his career 43.8% from behind the arc. He spent the beginning of this year mired in a shooting slump so he is at only 40% from deep this season. And he is only starting to heat up, especially with his team hitting a rough patch over the last two weeks. It’s exciting to see his rise, referring to both his shot and his career.
He broke out last year in the playoffs to the point in which the Denver Nuggets began to play football on the basketball court with him. Can he do it again this year? He is the one player, even over Durant, that I want to see play right now. Golden State is never out of a game with Curry on the floor and his ability opens up space for the sharpshooting Thompson along with All-Star David Lee. Andre Igoudala’s skill set also offers Curry the chance to play off the ball and takes some of the pressure off the young star. But Curry shines when the lights are brightest and the team needs him most. So if you get the chance this season, tune in for a Warriors game. Curry will start early and often and from anywhere. Unlike J.R. Smith and other crazy gunners out there, Curry hits his shots. This boyish, quiet kid from Davidson is my favorite to watch and brings something to the NBA that I think is sorely missed: egoless basketball and an understated grace to the game. Best part is, the fans are starting to take not. Curry will start for the West in the All-Star game this year.
Talent Strikes Again
On a quick note, the East-leading Indiana Pacers have signed Andrew Bynum. For a team-oriented group, the Pacers are making a bone-head decision choosing talent over actual value. Bynum is unmotivated, injury-prone, and a locker room cancer. He isn’t worth having on your roster, regardless of his incredible skill set and talent. Hope this doesn’t damage the Pacer’s mojo. But hey, anything to be the Heat right?
The Association Tonight
Brooklyn at Pacers: Can Brooklyn bounce back after being pasted by OKC and Durant? Not against the home-cooking Pacers.
Oklahoma City at Washington: John Wall and Bradley Beal are going to have to keep the Wizards in this,even with OKC playing back-to-back games. But Durant is well rested after not playing in the 4th
Minnesota at Atlanta: Minnesota is a fringe playoff contender in the West. Atlanta is very much so a East playoff team. But the Timberwolves are better than most teams in the East so look for Love and company to have success in “snowy” Georgia.
Miami at New York: Will ‘Melo or King James get the MVP chants tonight in the Garden? The Heat are taking some criticism as of late so look for LeBron to silence those critics all night.
Charlotte at Phoenix: Two of the most surprising contenders in the league but Phoenix is far better, even with Eric Bledsoe shelved. Look for Dragic to drive the Suns past a Kemba-Walker-less Bobcats team for an important win.
Toronto at Portland: Toronto is a good team and there’s no doubt anymore. Portland is a better one. Look for the Trailblazers to find success tonight especially with LaMarcus Aldridge. Also C.J. McCollum is the man.