Stephen Curry: 3 Reasons Golden State Warriors PG Must Sit Out Until Next Year
No one said that tanking would be easy.
Any team can beat another on any given night in the NBA. That's part of the beauty (or ridiculousness) that is an 82-game schedule. But a double-digit home loss to the lowly New Orleans Hornets (13-39) followed up with a blown 19-point lead, again at home, to the slightly less terrible New Jersey Nets (18-35) leads to one conclusion: The Warriors are trying to lose.
What's worse is that they're not only trying to lose, but they have to lose these games. The preseason playoff promises from coach Mark Jackson and co-owner Joe Lacob forced the Warriors to try to win as many games as possible before realizing that the playoffs were not coming to this group and they had severely limited the possibility that they would retain their top-seven lottery protected pick.
At 20-30, the Warriors hold the ninth-worst record in the league and are 3.5 games ahead of the seventh-worst New Jersey. The Warriors need to lose a lot of games and quickly.
The news that star point guard Stephen Curry will be sidelined an additional two weeks (via Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports) to deal with his ailing ankle is both expected (that's what he does, right?) and somewhat intriguing.
The intrigue does not come from whether or not Curry will indeed return this season. It comes from why the Warriors would ever want him to come back this season.
Here are three reasons why his return is a terrible idea.
3. The (Further) Development of Charles Jenkins
Most NBA franchises have a hard time finding an elite point guard.
The Golden State Warriors may have found theirs in Curry, but it's finding his backup that has been their problem.
Since making Curry the seventh overall pick in the 2009 draft, they've tried Acie Law, C.J. Watson, Charlie Bell, Jeremy Lin, Nate Robinson and now Charles Jenkins.
Considering that Curry's ankle rehab is now entering its second year, it's safe to say that they could use a reliable option behind him.
The 6'3" scoring point guard began his NBA career with about as much fanfare as a second-round Golden State Warriors draft choice from Hofstra could expect.
Prior to March 13, he'd scored at least five points in a whopping five games. He'd played more than 15 minutes just three times. However, since the Warriors have embraced tanking (i.e., traded two of their best players for one who would not suit up for them this season), Jenkins has finally gotten the minutes needed to impress.
And that's exactly what he's done with them. He had his first double-digit output with 15 points at Sacramento on March 13. He scored a career-high 27 points 12 days later in Portland. And Friday night, he tallied 18 points and 12 assists against the New Jersey Nets and their star point guard Deron Williams.
He may or may not be the long-term answer as Curry's backup. Curry staying on the sideline for the rest of this season could certainly make things a lot clearer.
2. Keeping the Draft Pick
This goes without saying, right?
Having Jenkins and Nate Robinson on the floor in place of Curry increases their odds of losing...100 percent?
The Warriors are clearly in need of more talent and the seemingly shortest path to that talent is the draft lottery.
This assumes, of course, that the Warriors don't do something crazy and draft any of the following: Patrick O'Bryant, Anthony Randolph, Troy Murphy, Mike Dunleavy, Marco Belinelli, Ike Diogu, Andris Biedrins, Adonal Foyle, Todd Fuller or Joe Smith.
If this draft is half as good as experts say it is, even the Warriors should have a tough time screwing up a top-seven pick.
Their needs are clearer than ever (starting small forward, backup big), which should help narrow the draft board. There should be talented players available at these positions in the top-seven (Harrison Barnes and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at small forward; Thomas Robinson, Arnett Moultrie, Jared Sullinger in the post); so, the Warriors should have options with the pick.
A healthy Curry (and Andrew Bogut) could be the biggest additions to next year's teams. That is, of course, if they play better than this rookie.
1. A Potentially Healthy Curry Next Season
Curry has expressed a desire to return to the court this season. It makes a lot of sense for him personally.
After missing just 10 games in his first two NBA seasons, Curry has missed 24 of the team's 50 games this season. With next season's roster the best group of players (on paper) that he's played with in his short career, he could use the reassuring that his ankle will allow him to be a part of that.
That reassurance, however, can wait until training camp. The last thing that he wants is to be dealing with this same problem for the third consecutive season. The Warriors' playoff hopes will be building for next season and, if all pieces are healthy, appear legitimate right now.
Of course, there's also the sharp-shooter's looming extension deadline for his rookie contract next season. The Warriors would like to see a healthy Curry in training camp to have confidence should they decide to extend him. Imagine what a rolled ankle in a meaningless April game could do to that confidence.
Curry, meanwhile, would like to salvage what's left of his reputation with an on-court appearance this season should an extension not come for the Warriors. He'd be a restricted free agent in 2013 and will have his work cut out for him next year in terms of rebuilding his value.
Whether or not to come back will be the biggest decision he's made in his career. That's why the Warriors need to make it for him.