Stephen Curry's Arrival as Star Guard Validates Golden State Warriors' Future
Patience has paid off.
It’s a maxim he hails over reporters at every opportunity with the style of stubbornness it takes to truly see a plan out.
The plan began with Stephen Curry.
The Warriors knew they had a special talent when they drafted Curry as the No. 7 pick out of Davidson in 2009. The patience endured for Curry’s growth, a progression that included multiple ankle surgeries and the trade of fan-favorite Monta Ellis, has now come to fruition.
The Warriors’ magnetic point guard has charged into the national spotlight this postseason.
The provocative scorer with did-he-just-do-that flair has become the darling of the playoffs. He’s averaging 27.1 points and 9.6 assists through his first seven postseason games, and those numbers include more than four three-pointers per game.
He's been doing it all season long, or as Jackson noted in the opening round regarding Curry's new fame: "Those guys are just coming to the hospital; the baby has been born already.”
And with it, the Warriors are relevant for the first time since—well, pretty much Curry’s birth 25 years ago. This isn’t the 2006-07 “We Believe” Warriors that were built for the short term either; Golden State could be a good for a long time.
And to think, Warriors fans once booed owner Joe Lacob, the man responsible in leading the franchise’s turnaround.
The fans, then upset about another losing season and the recent trade of Ellis, created a cringe-worthy moment for the new Warriors owner in March 2012:
The prophetic words in support of Lacob that night, spoken by former Warriors Chris Mullin and Rick Barry, have now come true.
Mullin: "With your support and patience, use that passion in the right direction. This thing is going the right way. I have great confidence in Joe and Mark Jackson."
Barry: “For you to treat this man, who is spending his money to do the best that he can to turn this franchise around, I know he's going to do it. Give him the respect he deserves."
When Golden State hosts Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals on Friday night at Oracle Arena, no one will boo Lacob. No one will question how Ellis would look on this team.
Instead, the focus will be on its superstar point guard, and the even younger talents of second-year shooter Klay Thompson and rookie Harrison Barnes. Thompson is averaging 15.3 points and playing high-level perimeter defense this postseason, and Barnes has averaged 15.4 points and 6.4 rebounds.
All of those guys are under Warriors’ control for multiple years, most notably Curry, who signed an economical four-year, $44 million extension last offseason when he was coming off ankle surgeries.
Credit the superb drafting of the Warriors for an even quicker turnaround, as, along with Barnes, fellow rookies Draymond Green and Festus Ezeli all play prominent roles in the team's success.
The team’s Game 1 double-overtime loss, a 16-point fourth-quarter collapse to the Spurs, is a byproduct of the team’s youth.
But to even be in such a position is a welcome change to a franchise that for so long has dwelled in the lottery. The Warriors are playing just their second postseason in 19 years.
And Golden State isn't done.
Only two players, injured All-Star David Lee and reserve Richard Jefferson, are age 30 or older.
Backup guard Jarrett Jack will become a free agent this summer and reserve forward Carl Landry will likely opt out of his $4 million player option for next season. Both have played pivotal roles in the Warriors’ success and it remains uncertain if the Warriors can return both, or even one, of the pair they signed last offseason.
But looking ahead, the future is bright for Golden State either way.
Do you consider Stephen Curry an NBA superstar at this point?
Under the leadership of Lacob and Jackson, and the intelligent design of general manager Bob Myers, Golden State has stuck to its process.
And nothing is more emblematic of Golden State’s patience than the success of Curry, the league’s newest superstar.
The only other player still on the Warriors roster from when Curry was drafted in 2009 is the rarely-used Andris Biedrins. Curry is the godfather of this Golden State march into success.
Like Michael Corleone, no one was ready to take Curry seriously—either because of his undersized stature or vulnerable ankles.
The same could be said for the Warriors. But this postseason, the franchise and its star have arrived.
The process is working.
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