Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Stephen Curry: Not the Golden State or San Francisco Warriors future point guard

By Justin Taylor

When I say that Stephen Curry is not the point guard of the future in Golden State (or San Francisco) most would probably expect me to cite his glass ankle or his leafy body.  It’s hard to fault him much as a basketball player so I won’t be doing that either.  You might start scanning down the column for trade proposals or some alternative master plan (although as it turns out I’ve got a couple, crazy I know.)  I just don’t think Steph is a point guard.  Being a great passer, having superior basketball IQ and an inability to match up against any other position size wise does not make you a point man by default in the NBA.  At least it shouldn’t.

When you think of the point guard position in the NBA you’ve been thinking about guys like Chris Paul, Steve Nash, Deron Williams, Tony Parker and Rajon Rondo for years now.  In recent years we’ve seen Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook and John Wall coming in and changing the make up of the position for better or worse. I miss the era of the floor general or in Avery Johnson’s case the days of the Lil General.  Just because Curry doesn’t fit the new, old or Avery mold as a point I don’t think that’s my answer either.  Curry doesn’t create passing lanes like the first group nor does he shred the defense like the youngsters. 
This is a guy who tends to take what opportunities the defense provides but doesn’t break them down and make them pay when they react.  There’s nothing wrong with that but not really attributes of a game changing point guard.  Since the day we drafted him and decided he was the new point guard I’ve had him pegged as a slightly better Mike Bibby but as a pure point.  I think Bibby has a leg or at least an ankle up on him as a point guard right now though.

My main argument is framed by the fact that Stephen Curry could be one of the best shooters this league has ever seen.  This baby-faced assassin was born to play shooting guard whether it is in a Rec League or the NBA.  This guy was outshining professional shooters as a twelve year old.  He was the best shooter on any team he’s ever played but all of the sudden the term SHOOTING guard is open to interpretation.  The problem is that the NBA is an amusement park ride that has a sign out front that reads, "Must be 6’6 to play anything but point guard."


Saying Reggie Miller was an average defender would be a major compliment, maybe too generous.  He thrived because he had a playoff contending offense based entirely on him during his Hall of Fame career.  Rip Hamilton was never praised for his defense but he was prominently featured on a team-oriented offense that won an NBA championship and came within a game of a second!  Stephen Curry is better than both of those guys at what they did best but we’ll never see that because he’s busy making sure everyone else gets their touches.  Give him the let Reggie Rip treatment, run the offense through him and watch defenses suffer the consequences.  Having this kid bring the ball up the floor neutralizes one huge asset he could share with Reggie Ripper; they ran defenders ragged trying to keep up with them around 10 screens a possession.

We are still in the same position we stood with Monta Ellis just a couple years ago.  The only difference now is that we actually have the option an ideal sized two guard.  Isn’t Steph a better shooting guard than Klay Thompson?  It’s a rhetorical question because I know that he is a superior player to Klay and he is a natural two guard.  Wouldn’t it be attractive if we had a bigger point that could run the team, get everyone their shots and defend some of the bigger guards when we’re not playing zone? Let’s be honest, whether Steph is playing the one or the two we’ll be playing a lot of zone.  We’ve been asking that question since Baron Davis left us for the opportunity to produce movies and dunk Krispy Kremes instead of basketballs.  At that point Thompson is anchoring the offense on the second unit with Rush and McGuire hopefully manning the three.

If Monta Ellis is a top 5 shooting guard in the league (and I believe he is) then Stephen Curry can be too.  If a trade comes along that will allow you to package him (future 1st rounder +Dorrell Wright) for a Deron Williams, a Chris Paul or a Rajon Rondo I’m all in.  Adding a natural floor leader to the balanced roster we have right now could take this team to heights we haven’t even thought of yet.  I can’t blame Williams or CP3 for not making any commitments to this cursed franchise, which makes it nearly impossible for the team to consider such a move.  I was disappointed however to read about the rumored Rondo deal that didn’t go through in the preseason.  Even if it was a rumor perpetrated by some blogger with about as much inside info as myself.  I may be on an island with that one but I liked the dynamic that would have added to the team.

This isn't Steph Curry at his best.

The realistic conclusion is to draft North Carolina’s Kendall Marshall.  The guy can’t throw a rock in the ocean from more than 10 feet but from day one on the job he is the best natural point guard and tempo controller on this team.  This would make Curry to be the smartest most efficient shooting guard in the league instead of a good point guard in a league full of them.  You now have five guys playing ball the way they were born to play it and none of them worrying about how every move effects the other four.  The rookie would make Steph, Klay, D. Lee, Jenkins and Bogut more efficient and effective even if it were only for 15 minutes a game.  In crunch time he allows you to space the floor and set up the best crop of shooters in the game without taking the big men out of it.

Marshall might even come in as less of a liability on defense but I think we can all agree he can’t be any worse.  Considering the depth of point guards and shooting guards across the league, where is Steph less of a burden on that end of the floor?  The inability to contain opposing point guards is more detrimental to the team than any size advantage the shallow pool of shooting guards would have.  If we are going to be playing from behind on defense either way I think playing from ahead on offense is the best course of action.  By my count we’ve got three above average defenders on the roster in Rush, McGuire and Bogut.  Mark Jackson preaching defense to the squad or the fan base doesn’t equal a solid defensive unit.

The biggest lesson to take from Don Nelson’s NBA Anarchy Cookbook (I couldn’t find any copies in print but I swear I’ve read it) is to highlight the strengths and mask the weaknesses of his shooters. He did this while setting fire to the talents and confidence of his big men but that’s another column.  The point is Chris Mullin couldn’t guard a stop sign but he managed to do ok for himself, no?  In years past it was called small ball or Nellie ball but that was because we never had a center.  That is going to change this season.  Goodbye to the ghosts of Alton Lister, Erick Dampier, Adonal Foyle, Andris Biedrins and Mikki Moore.  Holy shit! The last two are on the current roster?  Do they know that?  Anyways…welcome Andrew Bogut, I hope you’re ready for early foul trouble cause the perimeter floodgates are open when Steph is on the floor.

This is the guy we drafted.  Was this guy worried about everyone else's shots?

I hate the way he’s been pigeon holed into being a less effective version of himself.  I hate his ankles.  I hate that we might overpay him at the end of next season but does that make me a Curry hater?  I’d like to see the Warriors draft or trade for a true point guard to maximize his and Thompson’s talents at the same time.  I’m driving that bandwagon and there’s room if anyone wants a ride.  He needs a screen here and there, a balanced floor, a healthy ankle and someone to get him the ball where he can hurt the defense, basically anywhere on the right side of half court.

If management can show a little balls and/or creativity in providing some of these things it just may allow him to be the prodigy he was born to be. Stepping up and doing what’s right make for a long happy career for him and us fans on his way to the rafters.  If they prove to be one of those that think he is too small and feathery to be anything but a one in this league we’re going to need a new point guard before we get to San Francisco.  I’d rather have the next Reggie Miller than the next Mike Bibby but the guys in the front office are the ones who can make him better than both.




18 comments:

  1. I disagree with you for two reasons. Curry has the ability to become a very good passer in the NBA, even Steve Nash wasn't that great coming into the league. This is Tony Parker's first season in which he is averaging more than 7 asts. Rajon Rondo has 3 hall of famers around him.
    Now lets go to Curry's rookie year, when Monta Ellis was injured a lot after the all-star break. He lead that team and averaged 22 points, but also 7.7 asts with D-league players and Corey Maggette and Devean George. We can't say that he has regressed from that point, because we haven't seen him play without Monta yet. I would give Curry one more season to prove that he can run this offense. Otherwise, I'd look to Charles Jenkins, who was also seen as a SG coming out of college or get someone like a Ryan Harrow, Myck Kabongo, etc.

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    1. I should have made note of that...I don't think assist numbers tell the whole story. Monta can average 7 assists a game but he'll never be a point guard. I don't think he is a BAD point guard, I just think he's sacrificing part of himself when it's not entirely necessary. To frame the argument a little better let me ask a question to those who disagree. Do you feel that Stephen Curry is a better point guard or shooting guard? In which position is he at his personal best?

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    2. Shooting guard but that puts the Warriors right back to where we were with Monta, two small starting guards. This FO is committed to Klay at SG so Curry's only shot is going to be PG and if Curry does not excel or stay healthy he is gone. In my mind he is gone and he will be used to find us a more stereotypical PG by no later than the end of next season. I don't believe his ankles will be up to the task of PG.

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  2. Don't think FO is really committed to winning or losing with players drafted or acquired by prior ownership. I think they keep him at PG, he or his ankles will fail, be ordinary and he will get dealt along with Lee and we will have a roster of all "Lacob Time" players. Next season will just be playing out the string with Curry.

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  3. Curry's a "tweener". He has the ability to do many things but the chips fall when he defends bigger players with post up presence as everyone is aware of. Sometimes I think the game has passed me by as I agree with the Johnson, Guy Rogers, Attles type. Since mistakes play such a large part in winning basketball/sports you need a general to limit foolish mistakes & keep things in order. Kendall Marshall, or Teague as we previously have spoke about fits. I still feel that your Kidd P.U. could be what the Dr. ordered. Put the floor general on the floor to instruct our youth. He fits about every need we could ask for including B.A. fan popularity. He would be a giant attraction for the W's! Bring Over KIDD to teach us winning! If you don't understand the way to win YOU WON'T WIN! S

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    1. I should have made the tweener reference (the comments always remind of the shit I should have said...lol) because it annoys me that the only thing that makes a guy a tweener is his height and weight. If a guy has a clearly superior NBA skill it will be highlighted, marginalized or squandered by the coach and the team surrounding him. As a PG i think it marginalizes Curry's biggest talents. I still would like Kidd for 2013 but as far as this draft goes after the top two picks I only see one guy who is a natural fit for this team. If we can't get Kidd I think Marshall is the next best thing for us. If Curry comes back healthy and plays well at the point then I will probably be pushing for a trade because we can do better at the point and he will get some of his value back in that case.

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    2. Totally agreed. Thanks as usual for another timely response J. S

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  4. J I'm not informed on the promotion of Bob Myers to the G.M.move. Whats your take on this touchy subject for the W's? Thanks S

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    1. The only person that it is a touchy subject for is Larry Riley...I think it's great all around, the guy has great connections with players, agents and GMs...I also think that it's a big advantage having an agent as a GM because these are the guys that out negotiate GMs (especially the former player variety) all the time. I'm hoping this means that the Derek Fisher and Antwan Jamison types will never be overpaid here again. His first tests will come in the form of the Rush/McGuire negotiations followed by the bigger test of the Curry negotiation next season.

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  5. Nono he is no doubt best player on the team it wud crush the fans if he was traded.... you just cant look over the numbers hes capable of putting up

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  6. Stephen Curry is a sacred cow.No matter how much evidence or BB IQ is presented in a post,there is a cult of Curry worshipers who will never recant or acquiesce on their original idolatry and skewed vision of him.He would make a very good 6th man on an NBA roster,other than that fuhgettabotit.

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  7. me and the folks I know were more attached to Monta...If we could get similar value out of Steph I'd be listening real hard...

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  8. I really think we need to see what happens without Monta. Like you, I loved a lot of Monta's game, but I simply have to admit that for whatever reason, players never played their best around him. I saw Steph put up 36 and a bunch of assists on one leg this year against Denver. The boy has game, one way or another.

    There is nothing wrong with a point guard who can light it up from outside as well. Nash is the obvious one (though with a much better handle) but think about Isaiah, Dennis Johnson, Mo Cheeks, Kenny Smith. With guys like him and Klay, you can totally stretch the defense every which direction - no sagging off. Which Lee and Bogut will appreciate.

    I think it has a pretty good chance of working.

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    1. Thanks for weighing in! Totally legit line of thinking and it is actually what's going to happen next season...Regardless of whether I think we should do more to maximize his talents he's going to get every opportunity to lead this team from the 1 in 2013...

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  9. it kills me but tis the truth. ultimately i think he doesnt have a place where we're going.

    1) draft kendall marshal. i dont know about his defense but he's got great size at 6'4. maybe klay and curry can teach him that other part of the game thats not passing. hint: it rhymes with 'looting'.

    2) get curry healthy.

    3) package him with a second rounder for depth in the frontcourt or small forward. super prototypical frontcourt of marshal and thompson.

    4) wait for some contracts to expire (beans and r-j expire together i think, thats $20 mil right there). sign integral pieces back (thompson, marshal).

    5) tricky part here. will jeremy tyler pan out to fullfil the attention he was getting as a top 3 prospect in his junior year in HS? is he lee's replacement? if we find bogut and lee's backups, let them walk.

    this all adds up to a rediculous amount of cap space, since we have so much money tied up in so few players who all expire within a certain number of years. use it to tie up necessary parts and pieces. this all adds up to a younger, better-built warriors team that can compete for a long time.

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    1. Take Marshall (if we don't get screwed out of the pick) for sure and I'm hoping Steph and his trade value recover fully...In year one or even two we won't be able to count on much from the young rookie so like you said, it'll be wait and see while contracts start to expire...If Marshall comes in and looks legit and stephs value recovers he is bait good looking bait...

      Tyler can be counted on even less than Marshall but so far I see him as a back up for at least a couple of years...2014 can't get here fast enough...

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  10. First off, I think Marshall is going to be a great point gaurd. Yeah his 9 assist per game are an unbelievable stat line, but what really made up my mind was how lost UNC looked with out him. He knows how to play effectively with talent surrounding him.
    Secondly, Stephen Curry is good, real good. This team is ideally built for enhancing Curry's strengths while making up for his short comings. On offense we have low post scoring in bogut, high post scoring in lee and another 3 point shooter in thompson who has shown he can take it to the rim. This spreads the floor out extremely well and keeps the defense honest. To top it off, all of these players, including thompson, are above average passers. This makes it more interesting because that should make the team a lot more efficient. On the defensive side, we have a center who is an elite defender when healthy. This makes up for the times when perimeter players get beat. What also make it even better is when a center is trying to block a shot, there needs to be another player ready for the rebound, which is what Lee excels at.
    My Third point, Charles Jenkins was a steal and is going to get a lot better. He improved a whole lot this year and it's hard to think he has reached his peak. On that note, I don't believe a point gaurd should be the warriors top priority in the draft. I don't even think it should be a small forward like what most warrior fans suggest. I would like the warriors to get a power forward or center. We have to solidify the rotation of the front court because lee and bogut can't play 48 minutes of winning basketball. I would pray for Davis and be very optimistic with Drummond. Sullinger would be nice too, same with Terrence Jones. Since we have a couple of picks which we can hopefully move up into the mid first round, the other players I'm really high on are Royce White(pf) Fab Melo(c) and Jeff Taylor(sf). I would take MKG over Drummond but the chances of the warriors landing mkg is rare.
    Anyways, I hope the warriors pick the best player available and give Curry a chance to hold it down at the point gaurd position before they start looking for another player. I trust Myers, riely and west to get a good player.

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    1. Since there's mostly just rotation guys after the first few picks best available at any position is definitely the way to go, as much as anything we need assets. The answer to our prayers won't come with this draft pick but with the flexibility we give Myers and West to make a move. I do think that Marshall will be the best available before you even get out of the top 10 and would have the greatest immediate impact just based on how he keeps the entire team engaged on offense.

      I think we all have a lot of faith in Myers ability to work with this roster and Lacob's checkbook to make something happen. We might need to give them another year though to accumulate the assets but their roadmap is getting much more clear. The draft and the next assistant coach will add clarity as well.

      Thanks for the read and for weighing in.

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