Golden State Warriors: Will Stephen Curry End Up Being Best PG From 2009 Class?
From the so-called "point guard draft" of 2009, few have risen to the occasion in the NBA like Steph Curry.
Blake Griffin headlined the incoming talent, but it was guys like Curry, Johnny Flynn and Brandon Jennings who made GM's across the nation anxious at how they might fit in each of their particular systems.
Even Ricky Rubio was getting love.
As the season progresses in 2010, we get our first true glimpse of who has taken the biggest strides in the NBA.
Tyreke Evans, most notable as a shooting guard, should be considered in this conversation because of his ability to play both guard positions. He is not a true point guard like Brandon Jennings and Steph Curry, however to his credit, he can play with the best of them.
For the sake of deciding who will continue on as the best point guard from the '09 draft, let's hypothesize that Evans sticks at SG.
That leaves us with the most surprising success story in Milwaukee.
Brandon Jennings, drafted at No. 10 by the Bucks, became the first player to skip college, play ball in Rome and then be drafted by an NBA team. Quite the accomplishment, but nothing in comparison to his rookie debut.
Jennings recorded 17 points, nine boards and nine assists in his coming out party. He then followed it up with a team high 24 points at his first game in Milwaukee.
When Brandon Jennings came to meet his draft counterpart Stephen Curry in Oakland on November 14th, he dropped an astounding 55 points.
Jennings has also been to the playoffs, and as a rookie he averaged just over 18 points in seven playoff games. That's pretty impressive for a rookie running the show.
But wait, what about Ricky Rubio, the highest drafted point guard in 2009?
He's still playing ball in Europe. In fact, he literally can't come back to play because of league rules until after the 2010-2011 season.
His track record is outstanding over seas, however as far as his future in the NBA, it looks pretty bleak. He's far too young to count out (born in 1990), however his extended time away from the Timberwolves playbook will only come back to haunt him.
That brings us to the next two points guards, ironically both of whom were also drafted by the Timberwolves.
Just what exactly were they thinking?
Jonny Flynn was taken the pick after Ricky Rubio, going at No. 6.
When it comes to upside, Flynn certainly possesses the "spark a rally" aspect. In his Minnesota debut, Flynn dropped 13 in the fourth quarter, securing a victory. He also averaged 13.4 points, 4.4 assists and 2.4 boards per contest in just over 28 minutes a game last season.
His quickness to the bucket is tough to get in front of, and with a little veteran guidance, Flynn could be a stand out down the stretch of his career.
Then comes Ty Lawson, the Timberwolves third point guard drafted in 2009 in the first round. To be fair, they did trade him pretty quickly to Denver.
Lawson, coming off a great year at UNC, has been one of the more impressive point guards as far as growth. His ability to attack the basket was never a question in college, but as he assumes his role on a talented Denver Nuggets roster, it's evident that he plans on being a factor in the NBA for a number of years.
In his rookie campaign, he averaged just over eight points, adding in around four assists a game. Unlike Jennings, Lawson played only 20 minutes per contest last season.
Next comes Jrue Holiday. Former UCLA standout, Holiday had analysts dreaming he would step in and help the struggling Sixers regain their step. With a carousel rotation of Holiday and Louis Murphy, the Sixers were never able to turn the corner in 2009, as expected.
Holiday had similar stats to Ty Lawson last season, averaging around eight points, four assists and two boards a game. More importantly, this season Holiday has seen a huge share of time, and has used his new anointed starting role to his advantage.
As it stands today, Holiday averages 13.9 points and 7.1 assists a game.
For sake of going through the remainder of the PG's of '09, let's get to the main topic.
With perhaps the prettiest release of any player to shoot a basketball, Stephen Curry has a skill set that makes him a deadly spot shooter as well as a dominate passer. He's able to drive the lane, he can get open without the ball, and he's an excellent defender.
His all around play has inspired a re-surging Golden State Warriors squad during this 2010-11 season and his play last year put him back on the map ever since his shot draining days at Davidson.
Curry started 77 of 80 games last season, and so far this season he's averaging over 20 points, 5 assists, and 2 steals a game. Not a bad line for a second year guy. Last season Curry averaged 17.5 points, 5.9 assists and 4.5 boards a game. His defense becomes evident when you consider his average of 1.9 steals per contest.
So why is Curry a lock for best point guard from the '09 draft?
His willingness to learn is impeccable. After flourishing in Don Nelson's offense last season, Curry is still honing his skills in Keith Smarts' new regime. He's gained the trust of the players, and as Dorrell Wright mentioned in the SFgate, "He's the general of the offense and an extension of the coach on the floor".
As Stephen Curry continues on his path to greatness, all one needs to do is take a look at the clip of his highlights in just the past year in the NBA. He's got the shot, much like that of his dad, Dell Curry, and his will to get better with every day is something that will keep him on the incline.
As the Warriors begin their plight into a tough line of scheduling, Curry showed a bit of his perseverance in an article by Chronicle staff writer, Rusty Simmons.
"It's the toughest position night in and night out of names you're going to have to face. One prepares you for the next one and the next one. As long as I give 100 percent focus to what I'm doing defensively, I should be fine."
A quote as such describes his mentality. Now let's see if he can propel a fairly distant Warriors team back to the playoff mode that Baron Davis had once provided.
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