It’s hard to believe that it has already been 9 years since the Golden State Warriors drafted Stephen Curry. It’s even harder to believe that the 2-time league MVP and 3-time NBA champion was considered one of the biggest risks in that draft.
People worried that he wasn’t quick enough or strong enough to play in the NBA, couldn’t play defense, and was a “tweener” who wasn’t a true point guard or shooting guard.
The Warriors were intrigued enough to pick him at number 7 overall, and it has proven to be one of the most influential picks in NBA history.
There’s a fascinating article from the Charlotte Observer written by Scott Fowler that reviews Curry’s thought process leading up to draft night 2009 based on pieces Fowler wrote about it at the time.
According to the article, Curry wanted to be drafted by the New York Knicks. The Knicks held the number 8 pick in that draft.
The Warriors swiped Curry one slot before the Knicks could select him. The Knicks ultimately had to settle for Jordan Hill. It’s quite a juxtaposition. Curry is now one of the global icons of the game, and Hill is no longer playing in the NBA.
The Curry family wanted Steph to play in New York because Mike D’Antoni was the head coach of the Knicks at the time and they thought he’d fit his system perfectly.
It makes sense. They obviously envisioned Steph doing the types of things that Steve Nash did when he orchestrated that fast-paced “7 Seconds or Less” offense D’Antoni implemented with the Phoenix Suns in the years before that.
Curry only worked out for 4 teams leading up to the draft. Those teams were the Knicks, the Washington Wizards, the Sacramento Kings, and the Charlotte Bobcats.
The Bobcats were his hometown team, but they weren’t drafting until number 12. Curry was expected to be gone by then.
The Wizards originally had the number 5 pick but traded it to the Minnesota Timberwolves a day before the draft. the Timberwolves ended up selecting Ricky Rubio.
The Kings had the number 4 pick but passed on Curry to draft Tyreke Evans, who’d go on to win that upcoming season’s Rookie of the Year Award.
Although Curry expressed the desire to play for the Knicks, he said he would not hold out if drafted by someone else and would make the best of the situation.
A really funny moment in the article is when Fowler said that a New York desk clerk at a hotel told him before the draft that he hoped the Knicks didn’t draft Curry because he didn’t think he was NBA material.
It’s an assessment that seems unbelievably stupid in hindsight, but it’s important not to fall victim to revisionist history.
It was a pretty common viewpoint that numerous pundits had. Curry was not considered a sure thing by any stretch of the imagination.
It’s not clear if the Knicks knew it, but they weren’t going to be in a position to draft him unless they traded up. Don Nelson had told Dell Curry the day before the draft that Steph was not going to slip past number 7 if he lasted that long.
The Warriors had made their minds up that if Steph was still available at number 7, they were going to draft him. In retrospect, it’s one of the greatest decisions ever made in this league, and will forever be linked to the legacy of legendary coach Nelson.
It’s fascinating to ponder how different NBA history would have been if Curry had been picked by another team. While it’s impossible to determine whether the team that drafted Curry would have won any championships by now, it’s pretty safe to assume the Warriors would not have won any championships these last handful of years.
Even though Steph didn’t prefer Golden State drafting him at the time, he undoubtedly now considers it one of the greatest developments of his life.