Stephen Curry established himself as the top shooter in the NBA last season, breaking Ray Allen’s record for most three-pointers made in a season. But that doesn’t even begin to tell the story of how good the Golden State Warrior is with the ball in his hands.
Many one and two-guards that can fire from deep do that and only that. Stand and shoot. While their stroke may be pure, they’re effectively shut down as long as someone’s playing them aggressively. If the Steve Novaks and Anthony Morrows of the NBA were able to create their own shots rather than simply catch and shoot, they’d be as impossible to guard as, well, Steph Curry.
Not only can Curry handle the rock, he excels at it. Great ball handling gives him that tiny bit of separation he needs to get his shot off. Once he does, chalk up three more points for Golden State.
Here are his five favorite and most effective ways of creating space. Shooting doesn’t count as a move because a player scores rather than moves. Otherwise, his three-pointer would be ranked first, second, third, fourth and maybe fifth if he were having a good day.
From the YouTube-worthy ankle-breakers to the simple step backs, Curry has an arsenal at his disposal. You'll be directed to certain parts of each video to see the specific move, but if you're reading this in the first place you probably have the spare time to do so.
Curry loves to use this move coming off screens when the jump shot isn’t available. If the helper on defense is slow, late or just lazy, Steph catches them off guard and splits between his own man and the second defender.
Take a look 30 seconds into the video as he comes off a Carl Landry screen. Utah’s Derrick Favors, a player known as an above-average defender, doesn’t hedge the screen completely, giving Steph a small gap between Favors and Landry. While a simple crossover could potentially be swatted away by Favors’s long reach, Curry’s behind-the-back dribble cannot be tipped.
Now that he has a step on Favors, Curry can cut to the hoop, gain positioning with his body on the opposite side of the rim and finish the layup.
Because many of the pick-and-rolls Golden State deploys involves a post player (therefore, a post defender) as the screener, Curry gets the opportunity to pull this move off quite a bit. You can get another glimpse of it at the 0:37 mark here.
This double-counter move could be as high as second on the list, but Curry doesn’t pull it out of his bag of tricks often enough.
When he does though, Oracle Arena’s paramedics should bring out the ankle braces and crutches.
You can see for yourself in the video included as Curry makes an absolute fool of George Hill on the fast break. Carl Landry walks pretty far from his own bench to make sure Hill can still walk.
On a side note, this move is a big testament to the evolution of Curry’s game. Its execution shows that defenders already respect and anticipate his crossover and inside-out counter move, implying he has become efficient in those two areas as well. You can take another look at it here just over three minutes in.
Sometimes all you need is a classic crossover to get the job done.
In Steph’s case, his crossover is used more to get open for a jump shot than to drive to the hoop. The fact that he can shoot from anywhere means he can use his crossover anywhere as well.
It beats out the behind-the-back since it allows Curry to make sharper cuts with more explosiveness. As a result, he achieves a higher success rate with it.
Curry tends to use the crossover-to-jumper combination more in the mid-range game, when defenders have to consider him driving to the basket instead of taking a three. That doesn't stop him from executing it beyond the arc too, as evidenced by his dismantling of Gary Neal in the video.
Allen Iverson owned the crossover. Jamal Crawford has his shake-and-bake routine. Comparatively, this could be Curry’s in a couple years. It doesn’t matter what the initial step is, that behind-the-back counter dribble is nasty.
It could even replace our winner in the near future. The only reason it’s not number one is that his top move is just too good right now.
Personally, I like this one the best though. No one in recent memory has perfected it quite like Steph and he shows it off much more frequently than the previous move discussed. It’s beautiful to watch and leaves players, like Steve Nash here, wishing they called in sick for work that morning. Jeremy Lin agrees.
And when you pull it off in Madison Square Garden (3:13), it may be “your move” whether you like it or not.
This is Curry’s bread and butter. It’s simple, yet impossible to stop by anyone right now. Just ask Iman Shumpert, who completely freezes up above (1:02).
For all of his ball-handling abilities, Curry will always be a better shooter. There really isn’t a better way to create the few inches he needs more quickly than this. A simple push off one leg and voila, another triple for the shooting master.
It usually isn’t flashy, but the way he turns Shumpert into stone is sick. As the announcer puts it, he had nowhere to go and still gets a shot off.
There are four other instances of him using the step back in this YouTube clip alone. It’d be in your best interest to watch the whole video, but for the hasty ones, step backs are at the 1:29, 3:48, 5:12 and 8:08 marks.
For a kid with a lot of doubters coming out of Davidson, it's safe to say Stephen Curry has found a spot among the NBA's elite.