Golden State Warriors’ Christmas Gift: Stephen Curry
When looking back at the Golden State Warriors’ history, there is a decent amount of good if not great point guards that have played for the team, especially during the short periods of time that the team was relevant.
One can think of Guy Rodgers, Sleepy Floyd, Tim Hardaway and Baron Davis to name a few. All of which affected the franchise in their own way and gave Warriors fans countless memories.
It stands to reason that Davis is probably the most revered at this point, not necessarily because he was the best one of all, but rather because his exploits are the most recent. He was quite possibly at his best in the 2006-07 season, when he mixed things up to the best of his capabilities to give the Dubs some scoring and playmaking. Making matters even more interesting for fans was the fact that Baron did all of these things all the while playing some of the flashiest basketball in the NBA.
His crossovers were a thing of beauty, his no look passes made you giggle at times and his step back 3-pointers came with a sense of defiance given that defenders often baited him into shooting it. And when he was done with all of those things, well, he would dunk the ball on anyone foolish enough to challenge him.
The Dubs followed Davis during that season and when the postseason lights came on, they were not only part of the show, but at times they were awestruck by it as Baron Davis morphed into one of the best players in the league during the 2007 playoffs. He led the Warriors to an upset of the top seeded Dallas Mavericks in the playoffs and to a competitive matchup in the second round against the Utah Jazz.
The UCLA product averaged 25.3 points, 6.5 assists and 2.9 steals per game during the Dubs’ last playoff run.
But one of the problems with Davis mind you was that he always had a little Vince Carter to him: a vibe that he played hard and displayed all of his skills only when he truly felt like it. That theory gained some traction when the former Bruin appeared in all 82 games for the only time in his career in Golden State when in a contract year.
And just like that he was gone.
If we fast-forward to the present, the Golden State Warriors now have Stephen Curry leading the show. His talent will probably never approach Davis’ but it’s becoming increasingly clearer that it does not need to.
Both players couldn’t be more different and yet as this season progresses, Davis is becoming more and more of a distant memory while Curry is grabbing the bull by the horns and steering it as he pleases.
Although the Davidson product’s durability has often been questioned, he has appeared in 208 games with Golden State in now his fourth season in the league — with still 54 games left on the schedule — while Baron Davis played in 227 contests in his four years in the bay.
He is improving as a playmaker and has accepted the responsibility of being the team’s primary scoring option. Curry is carrying himself with a lot of swagger and confidence this season, and is even showing off some flash on occasion with his terrific ball handling skills coupled with his fancy passes and clever ball fakes.
Granted, he is having a slightly off year shooting the ball, but his 56 percent true shooting percentage (combination off all shooting percentages tied together) figure would represent a career high for Baron Davis in any of his seasons in the NBA.
The fourth year pro has not only improved his command on the offense this season, but he’s also gotten better as far as creating his own offense in one-on-one situations.
Last season, Curry’s isolations routinely came with the shot clock ticking down by virtue of an unimaginative offense that often relegated him to the corners where he either caught it and shot it or simply had to run to the ball and create with the clock ticking down.
Although this has happened this season, superior offensive concepts as well as the presence of Jarrett Jack have led to a much smoother and crisper looking offense where the ball isn’t always stuck in the hands of one player. Curry has benefitted from this, but his skills have made it as such that he can also bail the team out in one-on-one situations if need be.
Stephen Curry’s ball handling wizardry allows him to fake out defenders and create good looks either at the hoop, from midrange or even from long-range this season. Indeed, Synergy Sports tells us that the Warriors’ starting point guard converted 37 percent of his field goals and 18.2 percent of his 3-pointers last season in isolation situations. However, this season those figures have climbed to 45.9 percent from the field and 40 percent from downtown in isolation situations.
It’s worth noting that his shot selection could be better at times, but for the most part he tends to get a fair amount of quality looks at the basket, which has built his confidence up to the point that he is still leading the league in total clutch scoring (clutch is defined as the last five minutes of the game with the scoring margin within five points) so far this season per NBA.com’s advanced stats tool.
Considering that the Warriors guard is such a great shooter, it only makes sense to play him at both guard positions and it allows the Warriors’ offense to be a little more creative at times with respect to how they attack defenses.
Stephen Curry will never be Baron Davis, but the good news is he will never have to be. His play has been marvelous so far this season and has been instrumental to leading the Dubs to their impressive 18-10 record.
The 24-year old is a Christmas gift that all Warriors fans can enjoy.
Statistical support provided by NBA.com.