If Stephen Curry Is the Warriors' Future, How Do We Build Around Him?
There are a few things almost every Golden State fan can agree on. Chris Cohan is the devil himself, Robert Rowell is an idiot, we as the best fans in the NBA deserve better, etc.
Now we have a new, more positive one. For the first time in years (possibly since Chris Webber), we have a guy who we can build our team around.
That guy, of course, being Stephen Curry.
When we drafted him with the seventh overall pick in 2009, we knew he was going to be good. However, I doubt any of us figured out just how good he was.
Not only is he a terrific shooter (which we knew when we drafted him) but he’s proven to be an excellent distributor and playmaker, a competitive if not great defender, and he has given the fans in the Oracle the first thing to smile about since We Believe.
At the start of the season, I would have been happy if we had sent him to Phoenix for Amar’e. Now, I don’t trade Curry for anyone in the league not named LeBron, Wade, or Durant.
That being said, the question has to be asked. Now that we have the guy who will (hopefully) be leading us into the future, how do we build around him?
The first thing we have to look at here are Curry’s strengths and weaknesses.
Strengths: His jumper (possibly the best in the NBA), ability to find own shot and also create for others, unselfishness on offense, playing the passing lanes on D, the ability to lead the NBA’s most dysfunctional team as a 21-year-old rookie.
Weaknesses: He’s a poor defender right now and will probably be lucky to not spend his career as a defensive liability, only average athleticism for a guy his height, I’m still not totally sold on his PG instincts and can he be “the guy” for a championship contender?
For the last question, I consulted my uncle again over dinner last night (spaghetti at a small Italian place in south Sydney I’ve been going to for years). His opinion?
“Oh s**t. I know you guys are really high on Curry, but he’s not actually that good. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a hell of a player. He’s the best rookie point guard I’ve seen since Chris Paul. But can he be your best player on a contending team? Honestly man…f*** it, I’m not sure.
"A good point guard makes good players better (look at what Rondo’s doing with my boys), but if you guys are hoping Curry becomes your No. 1 guy, you’re gonna have to put a hell of a team around him. You’re gonna have to be like the Detroit team that beat the Lakers in 03.”
That Detroit team was one of my favourite non-Warrior sides of the past decade. Not because of the way they played or anything, but because they were a team in the truest sense.
No superstars or flashy guys (unless you count Ben Wallace’s hair), just a bunch who all knew their role on the court, had great team chemistry all worked together relentlessly to bring down the anti-team of individuals, showmen and desperadoes who made up the 2004 Lakers.
Currently, you can see the Bennett City Hijackers are executing a similar strategy. While they have a superstar-caliber player (Kevin Durant), they’ve worked hard to ensure they can surround him with a bunch of solid, good-character guys who know their roles on the court.
Why else would they pass up on guys like Tyreke Evans (a ball hog) and Ricky Rubio (a potential diva) to draft James Harden last year?
While the Warriors aren’t quite structured like that right now, I’ve taken the liberty of discussing what I believe they need to look to do at each position, who they could keep or (realistically) bring in at each slot and why.
A lot of people have said that we should look to trade Monta Ellis this off-season. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; unless we get an absolute Godfather offer for him, he stays put for a while.
In recent times, Monta has started to come out and say all the right things about Steph...that he was surprised how good he was, that he wants to keep playing with him etc.
Whether this means that he would be willing to return to a more conventional 2-guard off-the-ball role remains to be seen. However, if he does, we don’t let him go under any circumstances.
People have seemed to forget just how good he was before Mopedgate. This is a guy who broke the field-goal percentage for guards in a month in the history of the NBA twice.
Since then, his mid-range jumper has become consistent and his three ball improving. And he still has his speed and scary athleticism for a guy his size.
In my plan, the 2 guard has to be the main scoring option for the Warriors, and be a guy who can compliment Curry offensively.
Someone who can drive to the hoop, get to the free throw line, score in transition, and be just enough of a perimeter threat that his defender can’t sag off on him there.
Hmmm, I think I just described the M.O. of a certain 6’3”, heavily tattooed 2 guard for the Warriors, did I not?
If this duo can begin to work together, the sky is the limit offensively for this pairing. Already, even with Steph and Monta trading possessions as Monta wastes half of his, they’re considered one of the most dangerous back-courts in the NBA.
The Achilles heel would of course be on the defensive end. As I mentioned earlier, if Steph can become a non-liability on defense in his career and continue to improve his skill in the passing lanes that’ll probably be as good as it gets, cause he’s certainly not going to be Gary Payton 2.0 in that regard.
Monta is probably the better defender of the two, and when he’s motivated he can be quite a tough, scrappy defensive player. However, that’s not enough to consistently stop guys like Brandon Roy and Dwyane Wade (I left out Kobe because Monta has been effective guarding him before).
There are two ways to get around this. Firstly, fix the team defense. Actually, fix is probably the wrong word - better put would be to get some team defense.
It’s almost at a point where I feel like taking a bottle of vodka every time I see a Dubs game and drinking a shot every time I see defensive rotations or any semblance of team D. By the end, I’m fairly sure I’d still be sober and lucid.
The second point leads me into my next area of analysis.
Right now Corey Maggette is the starting small forward for Golden State.
This can’t be a long-term solution.
For my planned system, the 3 has to, above all, be the main defender, the guy who goes and takes the opposition’s No. 1 guy. The thought of Maggette trying to guard Kobe/Roy/Wade nightly makes me slightly nauseous.
Ideally, we’d look to trade him. However, given his oversized contract, that’s not likely unless we include some of our young talent in the deal and be prepared to accept 40 cents on the dollar at best.
Therefore, my solution is to make him a sixth man. Allow him to come off the bench and do what he does best: getting 15-20 ppg in an efficient manner.
Sure, he becomes the most overpaid benchwarmer in the NBA, but that’s Chris Mullin’s fault for signing him to that deal.
Who, then, starts? As we all know, the Warriors have the No. 6 pick in this year’s draft. Assuming we can’t trade up and get DeMarcus Cousins or he doesn’t fall to us (what I’m hoping happens for reasons I will discuss later), I’m hoping we draft Al-Farouq Aminu because he fits the role I view of the three on a Steph-led Warriors perfectly.
Aminu is a terrific defender who has all the physical tools to be so in the NBA. He’s insanely long (a 7’4” wingspan at 6’8”), has great lateral movement and quickness, good basketball IQ, insane athleticism and is always committed to D.
On the Warriors, he could easily play the Bruce Bowen/Shane Battier/Raja Bell role: come in and lock down the opposition’s No. 1 guy and provide a fourth/fifth offensive option.
His shooting is improving, and if he can develop his ball-handling, he could well become an extremely effective slasher with his physical tools.
If we don’t draft Aminu or we trade the pick? I’m out of ideas. Maybe see if the Lakers bite on a Ron Artest trade? I’ve always hoped we could get him on the Dubs so we can say we’ve employed both the main guys from the Malice at the Palace.
In fact, I really hoped that Riley would try to sign him last offseason when we still had Captain Jack. I know, I know, I’m as insane as both of them.
I’ve mentioned the two together for reasons you will see here.
If you have outside shooters like Steph, Buike and Morrow (if we can re-sign him), you need a big who can draw double teams in the paint and kick the ball out to them.
While running the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious, we don’t have that guy.
That’s part of the reason why I’ve become very high on the idea of drafting Cousins or even trying to trade up for him. Luckily, Minnesota and Sacramento’s main needs of improve (wing depth) is an area where we have some useful trading chips.
If the T-Wolves or Kings drafted DMC (how am I the only one who has thought of calling him that? It’s like how I seem to be the only person who thought of calling Vladimir Radmanovic “The Rad Man.”) and I were Larry Riley, I’d be on the phone with David Kahn/Geoff Petrie to see if they would accept a deal of Maggette/Randolph/Buike/second round pick for DMC.
Everyone wins: Minny/Sacramento gets two wing players who can score and a talented young PF (and, for Minnesota, one who compliments Love or Jefferson better than they do each other) we dump Mags’ salary and get one of the best young center prospects in a while.
Plus, with Big Cuz and Aminu on the team we get a good guys/badarses juxtaposition with Steph and Aminu for the good guys, Monta and DMC for the badarses and Biedrins stuck in the middle.
Speaking of the big guy, I believe that there’s a role for him in my plan as well. He would move to power forward, where his extra mobility would be useful against 4s like Rashard Lewis and Channing Frye who can stretch the floor.
But his main job would be to be Steph’s primary pick-and-roll partner (which is something he does well already) and to get 10-15 rebounds a game. In short, not much change except the team would be running more pick and roll plays.
Assuming we can’t get big Cuz, then we try another trade with Minnesota, this time for Al Jefferson in exchange for Mags, Reggie Williams and Brandan Wright.
(I’d also suggest we try a Maggette/Reggie/Randolph deal for Kevin Love, but I’m not sure they do it. Although when David Kahn is involved, all bets are off).
I spent most of last night working on a combination of this article and a 1,500-word essay (God, I hate the end of semester), so at times I know I’ve been a tad incoherent. But I hope you all can see where I’m trying to go with this.
If we are going to build our team for the future around Stephen Curry, we have to do it right.
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