3 years into the league, Curry has only played in 48 regular season games – 44 of those coming with the Sacramento Kings last year.
But Curry begins the 2016-17 season with a new team in the Dallas Mavericks. And there are reasons to believe that Curry could be destined for success with his new squad. Let’s discuss these reasons along with what Curry’s new coach, Rick Carlisle, thinks about the point guard’s future.
“I Knew I Had It in Me”
Curry never got a real chance to shine with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Memphis Grizzlies, or Phoenix Suns, playing a combined 4 games for these teams. But he got 44 games with the Kings, including one contest in particular that flashed his potential.
On April 11, 2015, Rajon Rondo and Darren Collison both sat out against the Suns. Curry got his first start, playing shooting guard, and looked like he belonged in the position, scoring 20 points and dishing 15 assists in 38 minutes. Mostly importantly, he was a big part of a Kings’ road win.
As Curry told SLAM Magazine, this game was a revelation.
“I knew I had it in me,” he said of the game. “During the year, I wasn’t playing consistently, but when I got in, I played well. I’d play five minutes here, six minutes here, 12 minutes—but I felt like I was effective, that I could help the team out.”
This was one of several games that allowed Curry to showcase his skills late in the season, as he averaged 15.2 points over the last 11 games. On the season, he shot a very Steph-esque 44.8% from beyond the arc.
“I showed a lot at the end of last season with Sacramento—that I can play on the ball and make plays,” he said.
A Nice Deal in Big D
Curry showed enough over Sacramento’s final stretch run to earn a two-year, $6 million deal with the Mavericks. This contract was easily overshadowed in an offseason where many players landed big deals. But for Curry, $6 million of guaranteed money and two years to further show his abilities is plenty.
The deal makes sense for Dallas because they’re trying to make the league’s sixth-oldest roster younger, which the 26-year-old Curry helps out with.
Competition will be intense for guard positions, with Deron Williams, JJ Barea, Devin Harris, and Wesley Matthews all slated for serious minutes. But Williams, Barea, and Harris range between 32 and 33 years old, meaning Dallas needs some youth at guard.
Just as importantly, they also need three-point shooting, which, outside of Matthews, isn’t abundant on this team.
Curry Is Ready for a “Quantum Leap”
“We have to get younger, and he’s the right age where we feel like he’s young enough to still take a quantum leap, and he’s experienced enough to help us now,” said Carlisle.
This upcoming year with Sacramento will be unlike any that he’s experienced as a pro so far. After all, he’s spent more time in the D-League than he has in the NBA.
“Every time I was let go, I was disappointed because I felt like I never got on the floor to show what I could do,” said Curry. “It’s tough coming into a team that you weren’t with in training camp, trying to establish yourself on a 10-day contract situation when there’s a lot of odds against you. I don’t blame them for not giving me those chances, but I felt like I deserved them.”
Dallas Offers a Totally New Environment
As Rudy Gay described to Sacramento coach George Karl when he was hired in 2015: “Welcome to basketball hell.”
Curry was trying to stick on a roster while Karl and DeMarcus Cousins were feuding, and the team almost fired Karl midseason. Curry was finally released from basketball hell on July 3, when the team cut him to sign Matt Barnes.
Despite all of this, Curry stayed positive and was able to learn from veterans like Caron Butler.
“It was a great learning experience,” he said. “I liked everybody in the locker room as a person—there were just some headlines and some problems. But that taught me a lot about professionalism. Being around Caron was huge. Even at this point in his career, he’s still in the gym with me early in the morning, getting his work in, putting the time in, staying positive. Whether you’re getting minutes or not, you gotta go in and do your job and play for the fans.”
The good news for Curry is that he won’t have to worry about all the drama in Dallas, which has stuck with Carlisle for 8 seasons.
“The past few years I’ve been in the League, I’ve really noticed how important that structure and direction is for a team,” he said. “Going to a place that’s already established, where I can just come in and get better and keep doing things the right way, it’s gonna make it a lot easier to win. I don’t want to take what I did last year and then take a step back. I want to move forward, grow from it and be a consistent NBA player.”
Curry will finally get the chance to grow as an NBA player this year.