The Utah game was blessed by a fantastic Stephen Curry performance, a real 29 and 12 Nash imitation. Or was it Chris Paul? Curry made a typical CP3 move in the first quarter, when he jutted his butt to keep a trailing defender at bay. The result was a swish, courtesy of a seemingly effortless wrist flick. Many of the post game questions fixed on the synergy exhibited between he and Monta Ellis, but Monta is something of a known quantity.

Stephen is not. His reputation vacillates from “role player” to “future All Star.” He looked most promising in a rookie campaign, and seemed to regress in his sophmore season despite higher efficiency metrics. Curry shot better that year, but failed to improve as a distributor, and distribution defines the point guard position in the eyes of most. Repeatedly, Steph fell prey to an ankle that has the constitutional integrity of a nation embroiled in civil war.

For all we know, his future is bright as it ever was, but it certainly feels dimmer than it once did. Between the injuries and the ownership handover, the situation has been far from ideal. The team never gave Curry full grip of the reins, and Monta Ellis plays as though reigning. Upon arrival, Steph has been mired in a half-measure where the Warriors can never seem to choose between him and Monta. Have we seen the real Curry? With Monta Ellis out of the picture, would Thursday night’s version be the real future Curry?

Stephen does not carry a reputation for inconsistency, mainly because he is of impeccable NBA pedigree. Inconsistency is for players we associate with “not having it together.” Stephen Curry certainly seems to have it all together with his new house, new marriage, new baby on the way. But fans of this team have witnessed his confusing gaffes, his maddening unpredictability.

One handed passes sail directly to the opposition, and occasionally out of bounds. He has a nasty habit of compounding such mistakes by fouling the opposition in a panic. Some nights, he’s firing pocket passes with the precession of Odysseus splitting axe heads. Other nights, he’s getting trapped above the arc, melting into the floor as opponents take the ball from the uniformed puddle.

There is the small matter of how he can’t beat people off the dribble. Steve Nash has worked around this fault, thanks to his handle, his shot and his passing. Curry has two of those attributes, but the passing lags. Whether or not he can improve that aspect of his repertoire will decide a ceiling that breathes up and down with each performance.

Who is Stephen Curry, what is he capable of? Is he tragically hobbled? A role player, currently role-playing as the point guard he’s not? An All Star in waiting? Is he out of here, destined to be the star another team boasts? Are the Warriors holding him back or vice-versa?

I’m not even sure Curry knows, and I’m very sure that the Warriors don’t–because the team will not decide on which guard to keep. In the mean time, he remains the biggest question. Every day is July 25th, 2009. Stephen Curry has just been drafted and who knows what the Warriors are getting?

10 Responses

  1. Jay

    Do you guys know why Warriors beat teams like Chicago, Mia, NYK, UTAH, POR and lose to teams like Nets, Suns, BOBCATS???!!!
    Why is our team so inconsistent???
    It DOES seems like Monta is carrying our team every night scoring 25, dishing out 8 assists. But his inconsistency is the MAIN reason why the TEAM is inconsistent. Our ‘LEADER’ is one of the most inconsistent player in the NBA….
    Monta takes wayyyy too many shots, avging 19 Attempts.. thats more than Durant, Aldridge, Rose and the others. shooting 42% from the field, 24% from 3s. His turnover ratio is wayyy too high. Why don’t people understand this??? WE DONT NEED MONTA TO SCORE 24+ppg to win games!!!!!
    Curry is our PG… he WILL always shoot around 48% FG, 42+% from 3s. Curry is too consistent compare to monta. and foos keep saying Curry is a just shooter???? STFU !!!Clearly not watching any of Warriors game. Curry is a RAW passer. LET HIM TAKE OVER, he will easily avg 21pgs, 8+ assists. Having Monta next to him, he will never be able to average 6+ assists….
    I’ve been praying for Monta for Iggy past 2-3 yrs now. I thought Jerry West would convince the Warriors to pull the trigger, but yeah we the same warriors (AGAIN), signing Kwame for 8 million. Was hoping for Dalembert, but we decided to go with Kwame…
    I would definitely offer Monta, Udoh for Eric Gordon and Kaman. Of course thats if Eric Gordon is willing to sign with the Warriors.
    Face it people, I love monta, but there is reason why players like Jason Terry, Lou Williams come off the bench and provide with scoring. They are too small to play starting SG, and not exactly a PG material. I LOVED monta when he used to play behind baron and s.jackson. He shot nearly 50% FG with his consistent mid range jumpers…
    Trade Curry? He is not really a PG? yall stupds… seriously…

  2. Joshua Mills

    I think all this stuff about Curry not being a player to build around is pretty stupid. Without seeing them ACTUALLY build around Curry we will never know. First off if we were to build around Curry then we would of traded Monta already for a big. Its hard for Curry to upgrade the assists totals when you have a gaurd the same size as u taking the ball up just as much as he is. He cant be the leader he needs to be, because fans, owners, and even players still are thinking this is BOTH Montas and Stephs team instead of just Currys. Until we trade either Monta or Curry or somehow get a good big then this team will be how its been for years (missing the playoffs). Ellis needs to play off the ball like he did with BD and hit those pull up jumpers. You can talk all you want about how good Ellis is, but at the end of the day when was 42% shooting good? Some argue that hes the focus of the defense. That means that other players will be open, so stop taking dumb outside shots. Seems like every year he gets more perimeter. DRIVE the ball.

    • Jay

      Also, once we trade monta, we can definitely slow down the pace of our game.
      This run and gun, risky steals=fast break formula will NEVER work!!!
      sure its fun to watch, but I rather see us WIN !!!
      This team has so much talents, but because of Monta, players around him is not getting enough opportunities.
      Look what happened to Denver after Carmelo left.
      They’ve gotten BETTER. they even score MORE POINTS as a team!!
      sure they lost their ‘superstar’, but basketball is a team sport.
      We can be that team!!!!
      Warriors, yall know what to do… JUST DO IT!!!!

  3. AKR

    I think they should trade away Monta (although it would be effectively impossible i’d love to get James Harden, a decent big or a good draft pick), start Thompson or Rush for now and give Curry the team and see what he can do.

    If it doesnt work (like anything the Warriors do) trade Curry for assets or picks and start over.

    Works on 2k LOL

  4. Bobby G

    Nice article ESS, some interesting breakdowns.

    I think the issue is compounded by the fact that he doesn’t fit into a traditional role as either guard. He’s clearly not a true point guard, where his true gift is outside scoring. However he doesn’t have the size or strength to be an all-star 2 guard either. If I had to choose a current NBA counterpart to Steph Curry’s game and role, it would be Jason Terry. Steph is a very valuable player… as a 6th man “combo” guard who can enter the game and should make the defense really have to adjust.

    I just feel like he’ll never succeed (in NBA terms, i.e. leading a contending team) as a PG. We’ve seen him get dismantled by opposing PGs. He’s learning the pick and pop with DLee pretty well, but if the W’s ever become a true threat to opposing teams, they’ll adjust to that pretty easily. What other options does our half court starting 5 have, then? Pick and don’t-look-for-the-ball-roll with Dre? Let Monta drive (and dish)? Have Steph going off the ball for open jumpers? When Steph’s not running the play, he’s not acting like a true PG, instead letting Monta do it, who is also not a real PG.

    I’m not saying Steph isn’t valuable, just that he lacks in areas where other great PGs are very dangerous, not only as scorers but as distributors. When Chris Paul or Derrick Rose drives past a screen and hits the FT line area, teams are now worried not only of a pull up jumper, which Steph may very well be better at, but also of a dangerous finish at the rim, which Steph doesn’t really have. If left alone, Paul or Rose or even Nash can score consistently; defenses have to adjust and help, leaving open teammates, and those great PGs have the wherewithal to not only find the open man but find the open man that the defense can’t adjust to easily. Steph’s shown that before, but no more than the statistical probability that you can’t be wrong ALL the time.

    Again, Jason Terry isn’t expected to do those things. He’s 6’2, like Steph, 180, like Steph, and no one thinks Jason Terry is a half-PG. Jason Terry also doesn’t start, and he’s still a dangerous player and a great asset to the Mavs. That’s the role Steph needs to be great I think. He’s got Terry’s range, and although Terry can finish a bit better than Steph can, Steph’s still a better distributor.

    So my answer to the Steph Curry question: He’s a future 6th man of the year, and potential All-Star, but not as a starting PG.

    • Ajay

      I agree that Steph is similar to terry in terms of the size and the athleticism. But Curry has a much better handle on the ball, better range, and better passing ability. He can read the game better and lead the team. I think he still needs to work on his “going to the basket” skills. He is definitely ( without question) a starter but may not be someone you want to build a team around.

  5. tupark

    Although I still don’t think he’s fully back from the ankle sprain, it seems like he’s gettin there. When he’s healthy, last night is what Curry is capable of. He couldn’t improve on his assists last season because Keith Stupid allowed Monta to dribble and do anything he wanted while relegating Curry to the corner too often.

    Games like last night are really something else when you consider the fact that he continues to share the back court with another incredibly ball dominant SG. How many dominant PGs in this league do you know that shares the back court with a player like Ellis? Think about it for a second. Nobody. CP/Dwill/Rose/Nash/Rondo/Westbrook you name it. You can’t be a dominant PG while sharing the back court with an equally ball dominant SG. That’s why teams set their teams up with one dominant SG or one dominant PG. If you have both, then you have a problem. Just ask Brandon Roy and Andre Miller.

    We will never truly see how great Curry can be until he is separated from Ellis and the team is built around him. This means better defenders, better finishers, and less volume guys. The same could be said for Ellis, but Curry’s ceiling is so much higher at the point.

  6. EvanZ


    I don’t know. Maybe Thorpe would say he lacks the “royal jelly” that he would have got on a team that is better at developing talent. Maybe this is what happens to talented players who dwell on bad teams for too long. Maybe Curry lacks a killer instinct or focus. Maybe this is what 2-guards look like when they’re forced into becoming point guards.

    Who knows, right? The only thing we can judge him by is what he actually does on the floor. And just like Ellis is great some nights, but really not great many other nights, after a while, you stop asking the question. Clearly, we’re not quite at that point yet, or at least, you’re not at that point, because you’re still asking the question. Going into this season, I really thought it was a make or break one for him. I wanted to see substantial and consistent improvement. Haven’t seen it yet. Unfortunately, glimpses don’t count. We’ve had those since day 1 of his rookie year.

    We’ll know it when we see it. When he can put together 4 or 5 games in a row like last night, then we’ll know it.

  7. Ethan Sherwood Strauss


    Ya, I’d pretty much agree with all that. But I’m not making a statement regarding what makes this a winning team, I’m trying to flesh out why Curry is so hard to assess going forward. Tonight was illustrative of his tantalizing talent, though these nights are often followed by terrible ones.

  8. EvanZ

    Here’s the thing. Curry may be the best player on our team. But he’s arguably the 5th, 6th, or maybe even 7th best PG in the West. That’s not a recipe for a winning team. He needed to come in this year and make a huge leap (like, say, the one Brandon Jennings is making), but it hasn’t really happened yet.

    We caught Utah (a surprisingly average team this season) on the back end of a b2b after a tough game against the Clippers. It’s nice to have a blowout every once in a while, but it doesn’t all of a sudden make this a good team. That’s the problem with the Warriors. There’s a huge selective bias issue going on with the front office, and to a large extent, with Warriors fan, which makes it really hard to make the changes that seem so necessary.