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. Hes 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 doesnt face the greatest competition in the Southern Conference, he doesnt falter when matched against the countrys best competition, as were seeing in the tournament.
In terms of physical makeup, Curry is undersized for an NBA shooting guard at 63, and he is a bit on the thin side, clearly still growing into his body. Athletically, he has decent quickness, but isnt a very explosive player, and isnt the kind of guy that is going to blow you away with his first step, though he makes up for that in many ways.
Currys 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 Currys 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 Davidsons 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 doesnt always hold his follow through, but its 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 its due to him having to take so many closely contested shots every game.
Curry isnt 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 itd be foolish not to take so many threes, so he doesnt 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 isnt anything special, as he doesnt 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 isnt 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. Hell 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 isnt 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. Its 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.