Curry should look to be a shooter, scorer first and foremost
Stephen Curry is a capable point guard, but is of more value to the Warriors when he's shooting, not passing. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
I spent some time on Twitter earlier today interacting with Warriors fans about Stephen Curry. The conversation centered on whether or not Curry is a point guard or not (I know, old argument, huh?) and other various aspects of his game.
One of the reasons this whole “Is Curry a point guard?” question continues to come up is because we haven’t ever gotten resolution on it – and we probably never will. A couple of months back Charles Barkley said he didn’t think Curry was a point guard and that eventually the team would have to trade Curry or Klay Thompson because they couldn’t play together.
Barkley maintains Curry, who starts games at point guard, is a shooting guard and that the Warriors are going to have to “solve that.”
The reason I spent so much time on Twitter earlier is because there seems to be a staunch group of Curry supporters who maintain strongly that he’s a point guard, while others insist equally that he’s a two guard. Others say he’s in-between.
Well, I don’t think Curry is a point guard, either. But then again, I don’t think he’s all two guard. I guess I consider Curry more of a one-and-a-half … which is the same way I consider Monta Ellis – only I’d give Curry the nod toward the point guard side and Ellis the nod toward the two-guard side.
The reason I don’t think Curry is a point guard is because when I think of Curry the first two things that come to my mind are shooting and scoring.
Those are the things Curry does best, and it’s not even close. Simply put, he’s a one-of-a-kind shooter – able to combine very deep range (further than 3-point line, itself) with a high percentage.
When I think of a point guard, the first things I think about are things such as passing, decision-making, leadership, running a team, trying to control tempo, defending the opposing point guard, etc.
Can Curry do those things or be those things at times? Of course he can. And he does them for the Warriors. But the question is: Does Curry excel at those things? And … how does he compare to other point guards in those areas? Those things don’t come as naturally or as easily to Curry as shooting, and, in particular, shooting the ball from long range. The fact that Curry can command someone guard him 28 feet from the basket – because he is such an accomplished shooter – is a great attribute and it’s a big-time asset for a team.
But it doesn’t make Curry any more or less of a point guard, and if he does it as a shooting guard it’s no less important.
My general belief is that Curry should do less point guard things and more shooting.
This isn’t about whether or not Curry can make plays. Curry can certainly make plays. His ability to shoot from distance is such a weapon that it allows him to penetrate more than a player with his quickness should be able to.
And when Curry gets into the foul line area and deeper he can finish occasionally and assist here and there. But he’s not as efficient in those spots as more seasoned, more experienced and more athletic point guards.
The more Curry handles the ball, the more he’s going to turn the ball over. And to my way of thinking, when he’s turning the ball over he’s doing the complete opposite of whatever nailing a 3-point shot is.
Another thing, of course, is that when Curry is in those positions, and shoots, he clearly doesn’t convert at the same 45-percent rate he does from 3-point range.
Most point guards thrive with a numbers advantage – whether it’s 5-on-4 after a point guard beats somebody in the halfcourt or whether it’s a fastbreak three-on-two or two-on-one. Curry does, too, but not nearly as much as some other point guards. He’s not a great passer in traffic – after penetration – and he’s not overly athletic, which means he’s mostly going to have to rely on cleverness to finish at the rim.
There’s a difference between making plays and being a point guard. Curry can certainly make plays. But being a point guard is more than that. It’s also a mindset and a mentality, kind of a whole way to play.
It’s about being the one most responsible for executing the offense in a way to best help your team win; it’s about knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your own teammates and the opponents; it’s about knowing who needs the ball on a particular possession and who doesn’t; it’s about valuing the ball at critical times during games.
It’s also about all the countless decisions you make during a game that don’t necessarily show up as an assist or turnover. It’s about swinging the ball, feeding the post, walking it up the floor one time and pushing it the next. Sometimes it’s about getting a shot for yourself. Sometimes, it’s not.
Yes, yes, yes, Curry can do all of these things. Of course he can. He’s been doing them to one extent or the other for almost four years in Golden State.
That’s not the question. The question is: How well can he do those things? And, more important, how much time do you want him to spend on those things – because the more he does those things the less he’s shooting the ball?
Back in the day, the term “combo guard” didn’t have a negative connotation like it seems to now. It was first perceived as a positive – describing a player who could both handle the ball and score.
Now, if you call somebody a “combo guard,” it seems a little bit pejorative, like the player doesn’t have a position or is limited in some ways.
Too bad. Because Curry is a heck of a player , no matter what you call him. I just don’t happen to call him a point.