Can Seth Curry Actually Have a Role with the Golden State Warriors?
One of the largest weaknesses of the 2012-13 Golden State Warriors was simultaneously one of the team's greatest strengths: shooting.
While Stephen Curry set the NBA record by draining 272 three-pointers and Klay Thompson made the 22nd most triples ever (211), the Warriors were outshot from deep during the latter part of round 2 of the playoffs.
That's because the San Antonio Spurs had Danny Green, Matt Bonner and Gary Neal.
When Golden State opted to put their top defenders—Thompson, Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut—on Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard and Tim Duncan, mismatches opened up for San Antonio's shooters.
Meanwhile, the Spurs locked up Curry and Thompson with their best defensive guys (Green and Leonard), but the lack of spot-up shooters on Golden State's side allowed San Antonio to get away with it.
Seth Curry probably won't make as many threes in his NBA career as his big brother, even if Stephen retired today (he's hit 644 in four NBA seasons). That doesn't mean that he won't hit a three that proves to be more memorable than any that Stephen ever drains.
As I alluded to two weeks ago when assessing the Warriors' weaknesses, Derek Fisher, Robert Horry and a withering-away Ray Allen have hit as many big shots in the playoffs as Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and a Ray Allen in his prime.
This isn't to proclaim Seth Curry as the next Derek Fisher. He's a long way from an NBA starting-point-guard role, let alone five championships and a long resume of huge fourth-quarter buckets.
It's instead a way of saying that three-point shooting will always be extremely valuable, and it's something that Curry is extremely good at.
Ostensibly, this is why the Warriors reached out to the undrafted rookie last week with a non-guaranteed contract. Of course there's the brother connection, as well as Mark Jackson's love for proven leaders and high-character guys and a slight uncertainty at backup point guard. These reasons probably played a small role in the signing.
But this was primarily about shooting depth; about Bob Myers trying to find a way to add something to a roster that's almost overstuffed with talent.
The Warriors are elite to solid across the board. They have a top-10 player at every position in their starting lineup and at sixth man. They have quality role players in Marreese Speights, Jermaine O'Neal and Toney Douglas. They have hungry, developing youngsters in Draymond Green and Kent Bazemore.
That's 11 players right there competing for 12 roster spots, and therein lies a currently small but potentially big problem.
The Warriors have a lack of shooting on their bench, but too many good players to do much about it. Curry isn't going to push Douglas out of a backup role, nor is he going to force the Dubs into downsizing their frontcourt to fit him on the roster.
I know it seems like I'm missing something blatantly obvious. Why can't Curry take that 12th spot and give Golden State the catch-and-shoot threat it needs for a championship run?
Welcome to the complicated case of the "Warriors' Final Active Roster Spot."
There are currently three names attached to this position—Curry, Festus Ezeli and Nemanja Nedovic—but the three are not in direct competition.
Ezeli is currently recovering from knee surgery and will not be on the active opening-day roster, but his extra year of experience and extra foot of size over Curry and Nedovic will almost certainly find him a roster spot upon his return.
Nedovic, Golden State's first-round pick and the man called the "European Derrick Rose," also has an inherent edge over Curry.
Rather than stashing the point guard overseas, Golden State signed the rookie to a guaranteed contract (as are all contracts for first-round picks). That doesn't mean he'll necessarily make the 12-man roster, but he will if Curry doesn't thoroughly outplay him in training camp.
If it does come down to a straight position battle, Nedovic also has an edge over Curry due to his size (6'4") and ability to run the point.
While Curry would also play point guard (his 6'1" size won't allow him to be a two), he doesn't have the playmaking skills, quickness or ability to penetrate that Nedovic has.
But Curry does have one thing going for him: his shooting.
Not only is Curry a better three-point shooter than Nedovic, but he's a better mid-range shooter, free-throw shooter, spot-up shooter and self-created-shot shooter.
He's such a good shooter, in fact, that he may not need to play point guard despite his lack of size.
Curry won't be playing more than a few minutes a night, and those minutes will come either during garbage time or in moments when Golden State desperately needs another three-point threat. He won't be asked to shut anyone down defensively.
That, combined with the aforementioned lack of shooting on the Warriors' bench and the slight redundancy of Nedovic's skill set ( Bazemore is a worse playmaker but other than that a longer, better Nedovic who can also dominate defensively), gave Curry enough of a reason to choose a non-guaranteed contract with the Warriors over a guaranteed deal with a Spanish ACB League team.
For Curry to truly have a role with the 2013-14 Warriors, a lot of things have to be right. Or wrong, depending on how you look at it.
First, Curry must outplay Nedovic enough to convince the team to sign a fourth point guard to a guaranteed deal. He must secondly prove to be such a superior shooter to the rest of the bench that his deficiencies are not enough for Ezeli to pry his roster spot away upon return.
He then has to have enough consistency and productivity in his role to dissuade the front office from adding a three-point specialist at the trading deadline, which is one of the easiest things for contending teams to do.
Of course, the Warriors do not want to make a trade if they don't have to. They won't complain if Curry is so good that Bazemore, Green, Ezeli or O'Neal loses a roster spot before him (one of these players being injured at all times would make this a non-issue).
They certainly won't hesitate to give Curry a six-figure contract if they think it will help the team's chances, not after the nine figures of money that they've poured into this roster.
Can Seth Curry have a role with the 2013-14 Warriors? That's up to him. There isn't roster space sitting around that Golden State will give to him, but there is a spot—and a more permanent role—that is available; so long as he grasps it and never loosens his grip.
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