I am not above admitting that I have been dead wrong in my assessment of some players coming into the league. Stephen Curry was one of those players.
From the handful of times that I watched him play at Davidson, (handful being the operative word. Those who know me know that I find college basketball about as entertaining as watching Grey's Anatomy) it seemed as though he was a natural combo guard. Given his lack of size, strength, and quickness, (when compared to NBA 2 guards) it was obvious that he would have to transition to playing point guard exclusively. Learning a new position is never easy, especially as an NBA rookie. My gut feeling was that Stephen Curry would be no more than a solid role player at the professional level. I thought that he would not start in many games and certainly would not be the All-Star some were projecting him to become. I confidently predicted that he would go the way of Adam Morrison or JJ Redick and most of his rookie year would be spent on the bench.
Our former president could just as confidently say that I misunderestimated him.
Curry's rookie season could not have gone any more differently than I had predicted. Role player he is not. The kid started 80 games and averaged almost 18 and 6. He had five 30-point, 10-assist games. Only Lebron and D Wade had more that year. He dropped 42 points against Portland in the last game of the season. As a rookie, Curry posted one triple double and flirted with a quadruple double. He also made a record breaking one hundred and sixty six 3-pointers.
The kid can flat out play. Steph Curry may not be a freakishly athletic, but he has a freakishly high basketball IQ. He reads defenses and always knows where everybody is on the floor. He may not be lightning quick but he has a good crossover and very deceptive change of pace dribble which allow him to get to the basket. Fouling him is a bad idea as he shoots almost 93% from the line. While Dell Curry's son doesn't exactly jump out of the gym, he is able to get his shot off using his exceptional handles and great footwork. And what a jump shot he has. Beautiful form. Quick release. Great range. I can't remember a guy not named Ray Allen or Reggie Miller that had a jumper this nasty this early in their career.
Alas, Stephen Curry's right ankle is threatening to hold his career back more than any of his other physical shortcomings. 7 ankle sprains in less than a year and a half. He missed 8 games last year and the ankle clearly bothered him at times. He opted to have surgery in the offseason to strengthen the ankle, which makes it doubly frustrating when he sprained it again on Friday. We are two weeks into the regular season and Curry has already sprained his ankle three times. Apparently, there is no structural damage and he is listed as day-to-day. One would imagine that the Warriors training staff are going to let him fully recuperate before getting him back on the floor.
This latest setback is undoubtedly frustrating for all parties involved. The fans, the organization, and new head coach Mark Jackson have some difficult questions that need to be answered. Right now, Curry is still under his rookie contract and is earning about $3 million per year. He will be an unrestricted free agent after next season. Can Curry ever stay healthy enough to justify re-signing him for the amount of money that he and his agent will want? The men writing the checks have to wonder whether a substantial investment in him is a wise one.
Another question is whether Golden State can build a competitive team around the backcourt of Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry. So far, it has been a work in progress. Scoring points has not been a problem for the tandem. Winning games has been. Both can put up big numbers but neither of them are great at setting up their teammates. Can you win in today's NBA starting two shoot-first guards? I have my doubts.
In my opinion, Curry must adjust and improve his game for the two to win together. He is already a good passer and could be ready to take that next step. Lots of point guards can give you good numbers but the really good ones make everyone around them better. Perhaps former point guard Mark Jackson can help Curry's development in that area. That will require him staying healthy. Both Curry and Ellis also have to tighten up defensively. Nobody is expecting either of the diminutive guards (both are generously listed as 6'3") to be on the NBA All-Defensive team, but they have to improve on the defensive end to make the Warriors relevant in the Western Conference. Again, improving defensively will require him staying healthy.
Being wrong about Stephen Curry does not bother me one bit. He is a phenomenal talent and very entertaining. I have become a big fan of his but the ankle injuries are starting to get old. Haven't you had enough attention, Steph Curry's right ankle? The man spent his offseason surgically making you stronger. How cool is that? He's like the Six Million Dollar Man and you are now the most tricked out joint in the league. How about letting the spotlight go back to the talented young baller with a bright future ahead of him?