Golden State Warriors: Can Stephen Curry Ever Develop into an Elite Point Guard?

Eric Johnson@<a href="" class="twitter-follow-button" data-show-count="false">Follow @EJisLegend</a> <script>!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src="//platCorrespondent IIIOctober 2, 2012

Jan. 2, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) talks with head coach Mark Jackson on the sidelines while playing against the Phoenix Suns at the US Airways Center. The Suns defeated the Warriors 102-91. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-US PRESSWIRE.
Jennifer Stewart-US PRESSWIRE

The NBA is currently a league with plenty of elite point guards. While the number of highly productive ball handlers continues to grow, we are still waiting for some to bloom into their full potential.

That list includes Golden State's Stephen Curry.

While a rather unorthodox point guard, Curry brings a lot to a Warriors team who comes into next season on the brink of playoff contention. His health is a major concern obviously, but the Davidson product can be something special if he stays on the floor.

Curry is a player with one of the sweetest strokes the game has ever witnessed. With a spectacular three-point shot, he managed to hit an astonishing 46 percent of his attempts from long range last season.

However, he counters that shooting game with below-average distribution skills for a point guard. Curry has averaged 5.8 assists per game for his career, but has the tendency to be careless with the ball at times.

Curry must also work on his ability to score off the dribble to compliment his talent of being a superb jump shooter. That versatility would allow him to be one of the most unstoppable offensive point guards in the NBA.

Luckily for his development, he is being coached by one of the more underrated point guards in league history. Mark Jackson is third all time on the NBA's career leaders in assists, which should be a nice boost in Curry's learning curve.

If he manages to stay healthy, there is a lot that Curry can learn from the new Golden State coach. Focusing on consistent team movement and taking care of the ball will instantly improve his showing on the floor.

Keep in mind that this will be the Warriors' first full season without Monta Ellis. While he was a talented scorer, he also took a lot of opportunities away from Curry whenever both players were on the floor. A trade was inevitable, but it should open up more creativity and use for the young point guard.

Pairing Curry in the backcourt with Klay Thompson should improve the situation immensely. Thompson is another useful long-range shooter who will stretch the floor for Golden State, but he isn't as dependent on the isolation game as much as Ellis. This works better with Curry's game and will create a more natural flow for the Warriors' offense. While neither Curry or Thompson are stellar athletes, they will be an interesting duo to watch in a half-court set.

The drafting of Harrison Barnes should also have a direct effect on Curry's production. Adding him, along with Andrew Bogut and Richard Jefferson, gives Golden State more valid targets all around the court.

Barnes is a potential Rookie of the Year threat who will give Curry a reliable scorer to distribute to. If he can learn to utilize the forward, Golden State's playoff hopes will continue to grow.

Consider this team one with plenty of variables. If things go right, they could sneak into the playoffs. If things don't pan out, they could be a high favorite for another lottery pick.

A lot of Golden State's immediate success lies on Curry's thin shoulders. He's a fairly smart player with a high ceiling, but must become a more basic point guard in order for his team to excel.

Mark Jackson didn't turn many heads in his initial season as a head coach, however, a healthy starting point guard could change that. If he can help bring around Curry's game, his job in Golden State will become much easier.

I would bank on Curry showing leaps of progression next season. He is in a much different situation compared to his previous three seasons, but one that sets him up for eventual success.