Far too often when watching NBA games, it seems as though players are rather one-dimensional. Indeed, we have perimeter stoppers, ball handlers, passers, dunkers, shooters, scorers, rebounders, charge takers, shot blockers and interior anchors to name a few. Consequently, when an NBA player is able to offer more than one skill, we tend to notice.
This explains why we gravitate towards players like Kevin Love (scorer, rebounder, shooter), Chris Paul (scorer, ball handler, passer) and Derrick Rose (scorer, ball handler, passer, dunker). Mind you, things truly become interesting when the conversation shifts towards players that are great shooters.
For the most part, we expect shooters to fit somewhere in between Kyle Korver and Ray Allen: it’s either they can shoot the ball and do nothing else, or they have a few skills here and there that can allow them to maybe get to the basket a bit, or set up defenders for midrange shots instead of simply relying on long range shots as well as teammates to set them up.
But then we have players like Steve Nash and Stephen Curry (even Mo Williams to a lesser extent) that just seem to defy what we expect of our typical NBA snipers. These players could be pegged as shooters, but really that would fail to do them justice.
Enter Stephen Curry.
So far this season, Stephen Curry is averaging 17.3 points and 5.4 assists on 49.1 percent field goal shooting and a scorching 44.2 percent 3-point field goal shooting.
Without a doubt, the Davidson product is one of the best shooters in the league. And yet, most will simply assume that he is a high percentage shooter because he gets to shoot a lot of uncontested shots.
As we’ve seen throughout the years with Ray Allen, the true value of a great shooter comes not in his ability to make open shots, but rather in his ability to improvise and adjust to defenses to make shots.
On this front, Stephen Curry paints a beautiful shooting masterpiece better than most.
The Warriors’ starting point guard is a terrific spot up shooter, but given his ball handling duties, he is often faced with having the ball in his hands in low percentage situations that require him to make plays, be it by shooting the ball or setting up a teammate.
And yet Curry has managed to convert nearly half of his field goal attempts so far this season. But it’s still worth digging a little deeper to see how the guard does it.
According to MySynergySports, Curry converts 52 percent of his field goal attempts in spot up situations, and 52.4 percent of his 3-point spot up shots. But then again, this is what we would expect from a great shooter.
Things are infinitely more complicated in isolation situations, as the defender sits on the offensive player’s every move and thus is capable of closing out on the jump shot to make the attempt far more difficult than a spot up jumper. And yet, MySynergySports tells us that Stephen Curry makes 58.3 percent of his shots in isolation situations.
Even more impressive, the gifted playmaker is shooting 57.1 percent from the field when he is the ball handler in the pick-and-roll action. His quickness and impressive handles allow him to turn the corner on the defender and plant his feet to take a good shot and also he is agile and gifted enough with the ball in his hands to split the trap and set himself up for a good shot attempt.
With that said, Steph does have a few chinks in his shooting armor. Per MySynergySports, he struggles in transition to make shots. Indeed, on the season he is converting a mere 31.6 percent of his field goals in these situations. This may surprise some at first glance, but Curry does have trouble finishing on the break because he typically gets shots that he is not entirely comfortable taking this season.
According to Hoopdata, the former Davidson guard converts 16.7 percent of his shots from 3-to-9 feet and 33.3 percent of his shots from 10-to-15 feet. Coincidentally, a lot of Curry’s transition attempts come from these distances, which explains his low shooting percentages in transition. Mind you, one can only wonder if his ankle issues have negated some of his lift on his attempts from 3-to-9 feet because he converted 47.9 percent of those looks during the 2009-10 season and 45.7 percent during the 2010-2011 season. So it’s in fact possible that Curry’s shooting figures may increase during the course of the season if his ankle strengthens.
Nonetheless, despite his shortcomings in transition, Stephen Curry has managed to still shoot the lights out so far this season and hasn’t shown any signs of slippage. His shooting figures speak for themselves, but even with the added degree of difficulty of opposing defenses, Curry continues to demonstrate to all that there isn’t much that the opposition can do when dealing with a world class shooter…
And that’s exactly what Stephen Curry is.
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