The Evolution to Steph

As popular as Steph Curry is with hardcore and casual fans, he and his Golden State Warriors teammates run through the record books isn’t as well received by those who were a major factor in writing those records. The defending champions’ dominant 2015-2016 season has brought out the curmudgeons and so-called “purists” who long for the way the game was played yesteryear.

In February when 11-time NBA World Champion coach Phil Jackson tweeted….

It created a small brush fire through the sports world and media, but it was nothing compared to the inferno unleashed by Hall of Fame great Oscar Robertson when he called out today’s coaches and players for not coming up with better game plans and execution to defend Curry.

In a scathing tone, the “Big O” said on ESPN’s Mike & Mike, “[Curry] has shot well because what’s going on in basketball today. In basketball today, it’s almost like if you can dunk or make a three-point shot, you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread…If I’ve got a guy who’s great shooting the ball outside, don’t you want to extend your defense out a little bit?… These coaches [today] do not understand the game of basketball, as far as I’m concerned.”

Mr. Robertson sounded like grumpy old Mr. Wilson scolding Dennis the Menace after catching him throwing the ball to close to the cars in his driveway.

While Phil’s tweet badly missed the mark he was shooting for, he may be on to something. Yes, no one has done it as efficiently and with the same flare as Steph, but several have in small doses. He is now what the point guard position has evolved into.

The dictionary defines the term evolution as the gradual development of something, especially from a simple to a more complex form. The following names are the players from the past who Wardell Stephen Curry got the ingredients for what he’s cooking.

Bob Cousy, the “Houdini of the Hardwood”, was the first showman in the history of the Association with his slick ball handling and flashy passes. Cousy wasn’t just style, he was substance, winning the 1957 NBA MVP and helping the Boston Celtics win 6 championships and averaged 7.5 assist per game for his career.

“Pistol Pete” Marivach was a scoring machine with Harlem Globetrotter-esque handles, and before his time creativity with his shot taking and making. His scoring exploits began with a stellar 3-year career at LSU {freshman were ineligible to play varsity during his time} where he scored 3,667 points, averaging 44.2 points per game for his collegiate career.

In eleven professional seasons, the “Pistol” averaged 24.2 points per game on 44% shooting from the field and 67% (10/15) from three {the 3-point line was instituted in 1979-80 season} and 5.4 assists per game for his career.

Nate Tiny Archibald, the first diminutive player—by comparison to his opponents— to dominate the NBA in scoring while still having the innate ability to set up teammates. He’s the only player in history to lead the Association in scoring and assists in the same season at 34.0 points and 11.4 assists per game on 49% shooting for the Kansas City Kings.

Isiah Thomas, had the handle to put his opponents on skates, right before elevating into his deadly mid range jumper that was as lethal as Curry’s deep 3’s. Thomas averaged 19.2 points and 9.3 assists per game for his 13-year career with the Detroit Pistons. Four consecutive seasons Thomas averaged 20+ points and 10+ assists per game, leading the Association in assists with 13.9 per game in 1984-1985.

Ray Allen. People forget about Milwaukee Bucks/Seattle Supersonics Ray when they annoint Curry as the greatest shooter ever. In his first seven seasons in the NBA with the Bucks, Allen averaged 19.6 points per game on 45% from 2-point range and 41% from beyond the arc. When he was traded to the Sonics and became the number one option, he averaged 24.6 points per game on 44% from 2’s and 39% from downtown. The 6’6″ Allen, in his prime, did much of his damage taking defenders off the dribble and sinking pull up J’s from mid-range and deep, albeit not with as many attempts as Steph. The most three’s he attempted in a season was 653 (8.4 per game) in 2005-2006. The last two seasons, Steph has averaged 8.1 and 11.1 3-point attempts per game, and has shot more than 600+ 3-pointers for the last four seasons

Dell Curry. I can’t ignore half the DNA in which Steph comes from. As the saying goes, “he is his father’s son.” The Curry’s elite shooting ability is similar to the Manning’s passing skills in the NFL. The father Curry was considered a dead-eye shooter at 40% from 3-point range and 48% from the field during his 16-year career with the Charlotte Hornets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors. His best years came in Charlotte, but his career best 48% 3-point shooting percentage in 1998-99 with the Bucks led the NBA. He obviously shared his knowledge, work ethic and skills with his sons. Even younger brother Seth with the Sacramento Kings has the gift. He’s a career 47% 3-point shooter in his 46 games played over 3 seasons in the NBA. 

I’m not saying any of these guys are better than Steph or not. It’s just they have similarities in certain areas or skills. I do agree with LBJ’s overall point. Never before have we seen anyone DO IT in the way Steph is doing it. As time goes on, many will try to emulate him as the game of basketball evolves.

Just like with those before him, one day we’ll be looking back at Steph as another plot point in the evolution of greatness.

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5 thoughts on “The Evolution to Steph

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