The NBA’s Next Superstar Point Guard?
Off to their best start since Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson were running the show for Golden State during the 2007-2008 NBA season, the Warriors are making some noise out West in 2013. After making numerous team-altering moves over the last few seasons, and receiving a clean bill of health for the first time in years, Golden State has been a pleasant surprise this season in the Western Conference.
Behind an explosive offense ranked in the top-10 in the NBA in scoring, despite a rough four-game skid on their brutal recent road trip against some of the top teams in the West, Golden State still currently ranks sixth in the Western Conference with a 30-21 record.
Featuring a run-and-gun style predicated on getting everyone involved on the Warriors’ deep and talented roster, the team’s up tempo nature has been running teams ragged all year long. Leading the way and running the show from the point guard position has been fourth-year player Stephen Curry.
After dealing with numerous ankle injuries over the past few seasons, Curry has missed just four games so far this year and has been crucial to the Warriors success. Already this season, the 24-year old has started twice as many games as he did in 2012 and being able to stay on the court seems to have unleashed Curry’s true potential.
Averaging career-highs this season in points (20.9), assists (6.6) and 3-pointers made per contest (3.1), Curry has played like one of the best point guards in basketball midway through the year. Among point guards this season, Curry ranks third in the NBA in points per game, first in 3-pointers made (147) and 3-point percentage (45 percent) and is tied for fifth in rebounds at four per night.
Even though his assists totals rank just 12th among NBA point guards, Curry’s teammates say his passing ability is underrated and that his play makes life easier for each of them.
“He makes it easy for not just me but for everybody,” second-year shooting guard Klay Thompson told HOOPSWORLD. “He’s a great playmaker and he’s a great scorer. He can take over a game with his shooting and his passing, so he makes it easier for every one of us out there. I love playing off of Steph and I’ve had a great time this year doing it.”
Acquired via trade just a season ago, newcomer Andrew Bogut believes playing with Curry is a great opportunity for him to establish his game in Golden State at the center position.
“Well it’s a great opportunity for myself just because Steph demands so much attention because he can shoot the ball so well and he’s an underrated passer,” Bogut said. “I think if I can set good screens for him, get him open, usually I’m going to find myself open because they’ll double him and I’ll get easy dunks and layups.”
Still, even with a sheet of gaudy stats and the full support of gushing teammates, Curry wasn’t selected as a reserve on this year’s Western Conference All Star team.
“It’s something that you hope would’ve happened, especially with the talk of who deserved to be on the team versus who didn’t,” Curry told HOOPSWORLD. “Before the announcements came out, that’s when it kind of got on your radar as that was a legit possibility but it’s still a long season. There’s a lot more to accomplish and still time left in my career so hopefully I’ll get there.”
While Curry told HOOPSWORLD he already feels like he’s driven to be one of the best players in basketball, he couldn’t deny that the All Star snub provided some fuel to the fire.
“I’m driven enough but it’s still a feeling that you want to have accomplished at one point in your career,” Curry said. “Shaq [O’Neal] said something on the TNT show that night [along the lines of] let this be another reason to keep your focus, keep playing well. Granted, you can’t control every situation but you can continue to get better.”
One key aspect on this Warriors team helping to accelerate Curry’s growth at the point guard position has been the impact of second-year head coach Mark Jackson. An established point guard himself over 17 NBA seasons, finishing with the third-highest assist total of all-time, Jackson has played a crucial role in Curry’s development.
“[Jackson] makes it easier just because of the identity we’ve taken on as a team, following his lead,” Curry told HOOPSWORLD. “There’s a lot of responsibility when it comes to what he expects me to be able to do on the floor, being a leader and trying to make plays for him. It’s nice to have that kind of confidence from your coach but you have to show up every night and play well to make him look good.
“That’s our job and we’re trying to play hard for him all year and he definitely deserves to have a winning team.”
Refusing to take too much credit for the job Curry has done this season, Jackson reiterated his belief in his starting point guard and the fact that the Warriors organization is extremely proud of what he’s done this season.
“Well, he’s a great player,” Jackson said. “His talent, at the end of the day, is why he’s so successful. He’s had a great first half of the season and I’m awfully proud of him.
“It makes it easier to coach him because he’s very coachable,” Jackson continued. “He’s an incredible man and I enjoy, thoroughly, coaching him and I’m truly proud of the success that he’s had thus far.”
Even though an All Star spot was just out of his reach this season, it’s not difficult to see a player with Curry’s amount of talent reaching that esteemed platform in the near future. The fact is, at just 24-years old, Curry is just scratching the surface in terms of his NBA potential and will only continue to grow under Coach Jackson and his offensive system.
As Curry continues on the path to reaching his true potential, it may not be long before NBA fans start saying his name in the same breath with players like Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo. If he can continue to stay healthy and on the court, the sky’s the limit for both Curry and this Warriors squad.