Wednesday, May 20, 2009

NBA Draft Prospects: Stephen Curry, Davidson

Stats: 28.6 ppg, 5.6 apg, 2.5 spg, 3.7 t/o's, 45.4% FG, 38.7% 3PT, 87.6% FT

Listed Size: 6'3", 185 lb, 3/14/88 (21 years old)

(photo credit: Digital Headbutt)

About Him: As a sophomore, Stephen Curry exploded onto the national scene with what may go down as the single greatest NCAA Tournament performance of this generation, carrying tiny Davidson to within a 25 footer of the Final Four. But as a junior, Curry's role vastly changed with the graduation of point guard Jason Richards. Already a proven shooter, this allowed Curry to show off what he could do as a point guard, and for the most part, the season was a (personal) success.

The most interesting aspect of Curry as an NBA prospect is how different his role will be in the league. At Davidson this past season, everything about the Wildcats offense was centered around Curry and his ability to create - both for himself and for his teammates. His usage rate was 31.6 possessions per game, the most of any NBA prospect and 50% more than anyone not named Lester Hudson. In the NBA, Curry is going to play a much more marginal role.

I know that this is stating the obvious, but Curry's game centers around his shot - which is as pure a stroke as I have ever seen. If you allow Curry to catch-and-shoot with his feet set and his shoulders square, he is automatic out to about 30 feet (literally). He also has an incredibly quick trigger, which allows him to get his shot off even when he is defended well. Curry has a great basketball IQ, and truly understands how to run off screens and create space off the ball.

But Curry's physical limitations probably mean he is going to end up as more of a point/combo guard than a pure two. He doesn't have the size, the strength, or the lateral quickness/athleticism to defend shooting guards in the league (he does, however, have a knack for disrupting the passing lanes as he averaged almost three thefts per). He is also going to run into some issues at the point as well. His first step leaves much to be desired, and it more than likely will mean that Curry will have problems beating NBA points off the dribble. Curry did, however, prove himself to be an excellent ball handler in his one season running the show for Davidson. He can handle the ball with either hand and has a variety of fakes and hesitation moves that he can use to keep defenders off balance and help him create space and get a look off the dribble. Perhaps his most telling stat was his assist:turnover ratio - even with the ball in his hands nearly every possession (as a playmaker and not just a scorer), Curry doubled his assist numbers while only slightly increasing his turnovers.

Shooting off the dribble is something Curry was forced to do quite a bit this past season, and he proved to be pretty good. He can pull-up going either direction, and he has a lightening quick and absolutely deadly step-back in his repertoire when going left. The biggest concern any GM will have with Curry's shooting is how far his numbers dipped this year. Most of that, however, can be explained by his team's dependance on him - he forced a lot of bad shots simply because Davidson needed it.

Comparisons: Best Case: I've seen a lot of people saying Mike Bibby, so I'll go with that; Worst Case: Jannero Pargo, Steve Kerr, JJ Redick.

Bottom Line: Curry is an incredibly smart player. Not only does he understand the game, he understands his limitations. He probably is never going to end up being a star in the league because of a lack of explosiveness (meaning he will be a huge defensive liability), he should be able to hang around the league because of the all-around offensive package he brings to the table.


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