Stephen Curry's Developing Game Means Rookie of the Year Award Is His

Steven ResnickSenior Writer IFebruary 13, 2010

PHOENIX - JANUARY 23:  Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors in action during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on January 23, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Warriors 112-103.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Stephen Curry's game has grown since the beginning of the season. At the beginning of the year, Curry had a hard time getting to the rim and finishing, had a hard time taking care of the ball, and also had the knack of picking up fouls very quickly, which meant a lot of time on the bench and playing time for backup guard C.J. Watson.

Curry is now heading into the All-Star break on a high note, recording a triple double against the Los Angeles Clippers by scoring 36 points, dishing out 13 assists, and grabbing 10 rebounds.

It was the first triple double by a rookie for the Warriors since Chris Webber and the first triple double of at least 30 points, 10 assists, and 10 rebounds by a rookie since Kevin Johnson.

This game points to the growth Curry has made since the season began. Curry's line for the triple double: 11-22 from the field, 7-11 from three, and 7-8 from the free throw line.

On the season Curry is averaging 14.8 points, 4.9 assists, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.9 steals on 45.7 percent from the field, 43.4 percent from three, and 87 percent from the free throw line.

What got Warriors fans excited against the Clippers as well was the fact that Curry led the team to a victory over the Clippers with Monta Ellis and Corey Maggette sidelined by injuries.

There's even some fans who believe Curry's growth as of late has made Ellis expendable. Which isn't necessarily what you might think it means for the Warriors; what it actually means is that Ellis doesn't have to take 22 shots a night anymore.

A reason for this is that Curry has now gotten a better understanding of the flow of the game. So, it means when Curry finds himself wide open for a three, he takes it.

If it means that a defender is flying out at him to try to get a hand up on a three point attempt, he pump fakes, steps around the defender and takes an 18 foot jumper instead, he does it.

In the early part of the season where Curry was turning the ball over frequently, he was trying to set up his teammates too much instead of looking to score. Now that he's becoming a more effective scorer, his assist numbers have gone up. In the last 10 contests for the Warriors, Curry has had his highest assist outputs of the season.

One growth that should be seen in the second half by Curry is his ability to get to the foul line. If that happens, his scoring will go up significantly because he excels in that category.

Finally, though even throughout the struggles in the beginning of the season for Curry, he has been solid defensively. He knows how to move his feet and he's very active in the passing lanes as well.

Now Curry does have tough competition for the Rookie of the Year award with two other guards: Brandon Jennings and Tyreke Evans.

Jennings is averaging 16.9 points, 6.2 assists, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.3 steals. He shoots at 37.6 percent from the field, 38.2 percent from three, and 80.3 percent from the free throw line.

Against the Warriors, Jennings scored an incredible 55 points. But since that time, he's struggled finding any sort of rhythm. He is the definition of a volume shooter and it shows by him averaging 16.9 points per game on 16.2 shots per game.

What keeps Jennings from being truly inefficient with his shots is the fact that he's a solid three point shooter. If his percentage from three was any lower, he would be averaging more shots than points.

He's a good passer as well and is currently the leading all rookies in assists, but even being the leader in assists doesn't make up for his scoring deficiencies.

Tyreke Evans right now has the numbers to win the award because he's leading all rookies in scoring and he's a physical freak. At 6'6", 220 lbs., he's hard to guard, especially in the paint.

He's averaging 20.3 points, 5.1 assists, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.6 steals. He shoots 46 percent from the field, 26.1 percent from the field, and 78.9 percent from the free throw line.

There's two huge weaknesses for Evans, though: His ineffective jumper and not being able to coexist with Kevin Martin. There's even been rumors that Martin would be traded because of this fact.

In the 20 games that Martin has played in with Evans, the Kings are 4-16. Without Martin in the lineup, the Kings are 14-18.

With his strength and athleticism, Evans should become one of the better defenders in the league, but right now he's only a decent defender.

When comparing the three players, there's one thing that stands out between them: The fact that Jennings and Evans still have major growth to do with their games.

Curry, on the other hand, has proven that he's the most complete rookie so far. His numbers may not reflect this in terms of the points per game average, but his ability to score in a variety of ways and his tremendous court vision Curry is far from a one dimensional player.

At the end of the regular season, it shouldn't be a surprise when the Rookie of the Year is announced and it's Curry walking home with the award.