Situational Statistics: This Year's Point Guard Crop May 8, 2009 Stephen Curry had little opportunity to be efficient, since he was doing enough shooting for three people at Davidson.
Curry’s 31.9 possessions per game is highest usage of any player in the draft this season. Its 50% higher than any other point guard not named Lester Hudson. With that in mind, it is important to take his average .94 PPP with a grain of salt, since it is representative of the load he carried and not the role he will play in the NBA. Curry took 5.4 catch and shoot jumpers per game, and his 1.15 PPP with a hand in his face and 1.33 PPP when left open both land him well above average. In terms of his shooting off the dribble, Curry took 11.6 pulls up jumpers per game, more shots than some players took in total.
Projecting him to the next level, Curry is an interesting case. He’s likely to do a lot of his damage in spot up situations in the NBA, but got only 8.9% of his possessions off of spot ups last seasons. He’s not likely to use a lot of one-on-one possessions, but he used 8.6 per game last season (1st). Averaging 8.3 isolations per game (68.3% Left), Curry probably won’t sniff half that number next season. In terms of guard play, his 41% shooting in transition ranks second to last, showing how hard he was pressing to score, but his 1.3 PPP on the pick and roll is excellent—which leaves a lot of room for optimism. He did use 2.6 possessions per game as a jump shooter running off of screens, so he does have a nice base of experience there, but it is notable how far apart Curry’s role in the NCAA was from the role he is likely to play in the NBA. [Read Full Article] NCAA Weekly Performers, 2/28/09 February 28, 2009 Staying in school might become all the rage soon, based on the experiences of collegiate stars like Blake Griffin, Jordan Hill, James Harden, Hasheem Thabeet and Stephen Curry. The junior combo became a household name last March with a series of heroic performances in the NCAA tournament, and has clearly upped his draft stock by deciding to return for another year.
Curry isn’t scoring quite as efficiently as last season, but he’s become even more prolific—currently ranking as the #1 scorer in college basketball any way you slice it. His 3-point percentages are down by almost 6%, but he is getting to the free throw line at a much better rate to compensate, and shoots 87% once there. Best of all, Curry’s assist numbers are through the roof now that he’s taken over the point guard duties full time from Jason Richards (who graduated), dishing out twice as many this season while only increasing his turnovers marginally. He’s also become one of the best ball-thieves in college basketball, at over 3 steals per game.
There isn’t a player in the country who receives as much scrutiny from opposing defenses as Curry does. The entire game-plan of every team he faces revolves solely around shutting him down, which makes it a little bit difficult to accurately evaluate him. The problem is that his teammates just aren’t good enough to punish the opposition for the way they ignore them, as they rely so incredibly heavily on his ability to generate offense for them. Curry shoulders an unbelievable share of the offensive load for Davidson, ranking #1 in the NCAA in usage rate, and #2 in field goal attempts per-40. He’s one of the few players in the NCAA that you can actually say that the game will likely become easier for once he’s in the NBA, playing alongside better players and getting far more easy looks.
The biggest revelation of this season is the relative ease in which Curry has converted to the point guard position. Still obviously possessing a shoot-first mentality, Curry has looked fairly unselfish running his team’s offense, displaying excellent court vision and a real knack for getting teammates involved (relative to the team’s situation). He does a good job on the pick and roll, and is a much more creative passer than we were previously able to see, capable of handling the ball with either hand and being very adept at playing at different speeds. Although he’s probably never going to be a pure playmaker in the Steve Nash or Chris Paul mold, he plays the game at an excellent pace, looks extremely poised at all times, and appears to show a good enough feel for the game to at least develop into a capable facilitator, ala Mike Bibby or Mo Williams.
The best part of Curry’s game clearly remains his perimeter shooting ability. Automatic with his feet set, he is very adept at coming off screens as well, being capable of setting his feet in an instant and getting his shot off incredibly quickly, already possessing NBA range on his jump-shot. Because of how few open looks he gets, he’s had to become a prolific off the dribble shooter as well, especially going left after creating his own shot, and particularly in transition, where he excels.
Because of the incredibly high difficulty of shots he’s capable of converting, Curry has a tendency to settle for a couple of truly awful attempts every game, showing absolutely no conscious. It’s difficult to gauge whether this has more to do with his role on the team, or if he just really overestimates his shooting ability at times. As cool and composed as he looks on the court at all times, he may even be a little too nonchalant on occasion, making some careless plays that lead to turnovers. He does rank 14th in the NCAA in turnovers per-40 after all.
One of the bigger concerns about Curry’s offensive game is that he does not project to become a prolific slasher at the NBA level. His first step is average at best, and considering his skinny frame and poor explosiveness around the basket in traffic, it’s unlikely that he’ll be able to get to the free throw line anywhere near as much in the NBA as he does in college. While he is a good ball-handler and is excellent at using change of speeds, fakes and hesitation moves to get by defenders, he usually prefers to settle for a pull-up jumper rather than take the way all the way to the rim. For that reason he’ll probably need to have some other shot-creators playing alongside him, especially in order to take full advantage of his perimeter shooting ability. He is extremely crafty about getting to the basket, really knowing how to exaggerate contact (some would say flopping) in order to draw fouls, which currently gets him to the line at a very nice rate.
Defensively, Curry puts a solid effort in, but is extremely limited by his poor physical tools on this end of the floor. He lacks great height, length or strength, and possesses below average lateral quickness, making him a potential defensive liability when being matched up with some of the more explosive guards the NBA is known for. He is a fairly tough kid, willing to stick his nose in and take a charge, and also seems to have a terrific knack for getting in the passing lanes (ranking amongst the top ball-thieves in the NCAA in steals), being extremely intelligent about following the scouting report. His lack of strength makes him susceptible to being posted up, though, and also makes it difficult for him to fight through screens. Although offensively it appears that he can play both guard spots, on the defensive end he would likely struggle badly guarding NBA shooting guards.
All in all, Curry has had a tougher time than he did last season with all the added attention that has been thrown his way, but he still projects as a very solid pro. In the right situation, alongside the right teammates, he could be a very effective NBA player, and his excellent intangibles and winning mentality lead you to believe that he’ll find a way to carve out a successful niche. The real question is whether he indeed decides to come out this year—so far he’s given little indication of that, as all signs point to him being extremely happy at Davidson. From a business standpoint, it makes little sense not to declare for the draft, though, as there is almost nothing left for him to prove at the collegiate level, and quite a bit to lose if things go wrong. It wouldn’t shock us to see the decision go either way. [Read Full Article]
NCAA Tournament Performers, 3/26/08-- Part Two March 26, 2008 After consecutive 40 and 30 points performances to lead his #10 team Davidson into the Sweet Sixteen, Stephen Curry, one of the biggest stories of the tournament, is someone who really deserves an in-depth look. First and foremost, something has to be said about his penchant for the big stage, as in three NCAA Tournament games in the past two years, Curry has scored a remarkable 100 points. He’s not just a great scorer in the postseason, though, as his stat-line clearly indicates. Looking deeper at his stats, the strides he made this year after a stellar freshman season are truly impressive. While increasing his points per game from 21.5 to 25.7, Curry also managed to increase his efficiency, raising his FG% from 46% to 49%, his 3PT% from 41% to 44%, and his TS% from 62% to an impressive 65% (and just for good measure, he grew two inches as well). His combination of production and efficiency is truly outstanding, and while he doesn’t face the greatest competition in the Southern Conference, he doesn’t falter when matched against the country’s best competition, as we’re seeing in the tournament.
In terms of physical makeup, Curry is undersized for an NBA shooting guard at 6’3, and he is a bit on the thin side, clearly still growing into his body. Athletically, he has decent quickness, but isn’t a very explosive player, and isn’t the kind of guy that is going to blow you away with his first step, though he makes up for that in many ways.
Curry’s game is very much based around his jump shot, which has a high, quick, and consistent release, which holds up well while on the move or when contested. 9.9 of Curry’s 17.8 field goal attempts per game come from behind the arc, and very few are without a hand in his face. Curry hits a handful of very difficult shots pretty much every game, as teams focus heavily on him, rarely letting him breathe, and rightfully so, given that he accounts for about 33% of Davidson’s total scoring, which ranks him 6th amongst all draft prospects in that category. Curry is excellent moving without the ball, almost always in motion and showing good craftiness in his ability to get separation, something he needs very little of to get off his outstanding shot. Curry gets off his shot using every method available, be it fading away, stepping back, turning around, dribbling to the left, dribbling to the right, coming off a screen, or some combination of the above. There really is very little to criticize about his shooting ability. He doesn’t always hold his follow through, but it’s hard to argue with the results. Other than that, he can be prone to having his shot blocked, which is due to his size just as much as it’s due to him having to take so many closely contested shots every game.
Curry isn’t just a long range shooter, though, even if the numbers somewhat suggest it. His remarkable efficiency from behind the arc puts him in a position where it’d be foolish not to take so many threes, so he doesn’t always show his full offensive repertoire. Curry has the same ability to get off tough shots from the mid-range, and he uses his strong ball-handling to do so when necessary. Curry handles the ball well with both hands, showing good control and excellent decision-making with the ball. He incorporates advanced moves such as crossovers, through the leg dribbles, and behind-the-back moves into his forays with the ball, and sells the moves very well with his craftiness. When taking the ball to the basket, Curry combines these moves along with subtle and dramatic changes in speed and direction to weave through the defense, occasionally making some outstanding plays. His first step isn’t anything special, as he doesn’t have outstanding quickness or overall athleticism, but he makes up for it with his craftiness. He keeps his head up and shows very good vision in penetrating the lane, though he isn’t the greatest finisher at the basket due to his size and lack of physicality (he only gets to the line four times per game). He makes up for this by making some tough scoop shots and going reverse to use the rim as a shield, but improving on his floater will definitely help him at the next level.
With pure point guard Jason Richards running the show, Curry rarely is put in the role of point guard, but he definitely shows potential in that regard, showing flashes of good court vision and decision-making skills. He’ll make crosscourt passes to open teammates, hit cutters off the dribble, and he plays the pick-and-roll very well, usually making the defense pay with a strong pass when they double him as the ball-handler. If he returns to school, he should have more opportunity to show his point guard skills, with Richards graduating.
On the defensive end, Curry has very good hands, which helps him grab two steals per game, and he also plays aggressive man-to-man defense both on and off the ball. He plays close off the ball, though struggles getting around screens, not always going over them, leading to some easy shots. On the ball, Curry compensates for his size by playing high up on his defender and keeping his hands up to avoid being shot over, though it still happens from time to time. He isn’t beat off the dribble very much, as he has very good fundamentals and reflexes, to go along with solid lateral quickness.
With every 30+ point performance in the tourney, Curry becomes less and less likely to return to school, and rightfully so. There are many question marks surrounding his game at the next level, ranging from his size to his position to how his skills will translate in general, but his talent, clutch ability, and the intangibles he brings to the table are undeniable. It’s tough to project his role at the next level at this stage of his development, but even without dramatic improvement, a Jannero Pargo or Juan Carlos Navarro type role is not very much of a stretch. If he improves on his point guard skills or grows another inch or two while adding some strength, full-fledged careers at either the PG or SG position are not out of the picture. Despite the many question marks around him, if he does indeed declare this year and continues to perform well in the tournament, he is someone who could sneak into the first round if someone falls in love with him, as in watching him, he clearly has a special factor to his game. [Read Full Article] NCAA Tournament: Stock Watch (round of 64, Thursday games)--Stock Up March 16, 2007 In the very first game of the NCAA tournament, we got what looked to be the first of many great storylines this March. Stephen Curry, a 6-foot nothing freshman and the son of NBA shooting great Dell Curry, led his team Davidson to a spectacular start against the Maryland Terrapins.
Curry, the nation’s leading scorer amongst freshman behind Kevin Durant, started the game on fire, scoring 18 points in the first half to keep his team right in the thick of things of a high-scoring, highly entertaining, fast paced game. He knocked down nearly everything he threw up in the first half, coming off screens, spotting up on the wing, pulling up off the dribble, and even getting fouled at one point on a 25-foot plus attempt. His range extends beyond the NBA 3-point line and his release is extremely quick. It’s no surprise this kid led the entire country in made 3’s, he’s that good of a threat from behind the arc.
But it wasn’t just a one-dimensional performance. Curry put the ball on the floor a little bit as well, utilizing his pump-fakes and the threat of his shot to open up driving lanes for him to fearlessly penetrate though. He’s not the quickest guy in the world, nor is he overly explosive finishing at the rim, or an amazing ball-handler, but he’s smart, tough and crafty enough to know how to get where he wants to on the floor. He got to the free throw line a number of times just by putting this kind of pressure on the defense, something that really helped keep Maryland honest in the way they defended the 3-point line.
Defensively, Curry did a nice job getting in the passing lanes, showing a lot of hustle going in for steals and then doing a fantastic job once in transition to either finish plays himself or find the open man. He also crashed the glass despite his severe height and strength disadvantage, something that tells you a little about the heart this guy has.
After an amazing 19 point performance in the first half Curry had a much more difficult time getting his shot off in the 2nd half, as he was both defended a lot closer by Maryland’s guards (D.J. Strawberry especially) and seemed to get winded down the stretch. He went over 12 minutes without scoring until the 6:30 mark, but then seemed to get back into the flow momentarily for 5 quick points. In the end, though, it wasn’t enough for Davidson to overcome the superior depth and athleticism of the Terrapins, and Maryland advanced to the next round despite Curry’s coming out party.
Curry doesn’t look like an immediate NBA prospect due to his lack of size and the fact that he’s essentially a 6-foot shooting guard, while he isn’t a great athlete to make up for that. Regardless, though, there is a place in the league for guys who can shoot like that, so if he continues to make strides in his game and improves his playmaking ability over the next few years, it wouldn’t shock us to see Dell’s son continue in his footsteps. [Read Full Article]