The Warriors Report: Can Stephen Curry herd his way to being a better defender?
By Geoff Lepper
Your daily guided tour through the national and local media coverage of the always-entertaining Golden State Warriors.
Contra Costa Times (Marcus Thompson II): “(Don) Nelson said (Stephen) Curry is tougher on his post defense now, and he defends pick-and-rolls well. Perhaps his biggest asset is that he understands and executes the game plan, which sets him up to have the help he needs.”
I’ll admit, I’m not in the room for post-practice film sessions or present during the installation of game-by-game tweaks during morning shootarounds. And, indeed, much of playing perimeter defense in the NBA is simply a matter of guiding a player the direction you want him to go. Maybe Curry is grading out higher on these internal measuring sticks.
(Sidebar: When he was in Oakland, Jamal Crawford always used to love retelling stories from Malik Rose — Crawford’s former teammate with the Knicks — concerning Rose’s time playing alongside Bruce Bowen for years in San Antonio. Condensing the narrative, Rose’s contention was that Bowen was not nearly the lock-down defender that his reputation would have you think, but that Bowen was pre-eminent as a funnel defender — that he always knew where to force his man so they would run into the waiting arms of Tim Duncan, Rose or some other Spurs big man warding off interlopers around the rim. And the fact that Rose never got any credit left him a little chapped about that.)
But Curry’s opposing PER at PG, according to 82games.com, is still 19.7 (C.J. Watson’s, by comparison, is 17.4), so it’s not like he’s tearing it up out there. And if the point of Curry’s game Saturday was to keep Steve Nash from slicing the Warriors up with his passing, the plan failed on the larger scale: Sure, Nash only had nine assists (as opposed to the 20 he hung on the Warriors earlier in the year), but even if you remove his 14-for-22 shooting (with six 3-pointers), the rest of the Suns still posted an eFG% of 56.1 percent for the evening. That’s higher than Phoenix’s season average of 55.4 percent, even greater than the Warriors’ season average of allowing 53.0, and way, way higher than the league average of 49.5. There’s no part of that game that should be called good, defensively speaking.
Examiner.com (Mike Massa): Looking at the rebuilding job done by the 2007-08 Celtics is fun, but hardly serves as a good blueprint for the Warriors (or any other team) for one important reason: You can’t count on the luck of being the recipient of some other team’s horrible deal. Frankly, the Warriors already played that card — that’s how Golden State got Baron Davis from New Orleans in the first place, and at a great discount.
Until the next Chris Wallace or Kevin McHale wants to gift a superstar to 1011 Broadway, the Warriors are just going to have to grind it out like most every NBA team.
Dime.com (Gerald Narciso): No. 4 on the list of 5 players Most Likely To Be Moved “in the coming weeks”? To nobody’s surprise, we give you Anthony Randolph.
Fast Break/San Jose Mercury News (Adam Lauridsen): “With both Andris and Ronny back, the team has no excuse not to play Randolph at power forward alongside one of the returning centers.”
We shall see. We shall see.
GoldenStateWorriers.com: Is Anthony Randolph having a better sophomore season than Anthony Morrow? And are either (or both) better than they were last year?
Don’t ask me — somebody else already put in all the work.
Warriorsworld.net (Rasheed Malek): WW sits down with C.J. Watson.
GoldenStateOfMind (Scott Schroeder): Potential callups if the Warriors do convince the league to give them a second injury exception to supplement their roster.
Bleacherreport.com (Hadarii Jones): Save the rookie: Trade Stephen Curry now.
9 Responses to “The Warriors Report: Can Stephen Curry herd his way to being a better defender?”
As I recall, Curry played Nash straight up the entire first half. Moreover, their playing time precisely corresponded in the first half, with Curry sitting when Nash sat. And I think the W’s were +5 in that time frame, with Nash outscoring Curry 13-11, but with five misses to Curry’s two.
Nash heated up in Q3, for sure, but barely halfway in Curry got his sole TO (it WAS a bonehead pass), and so Nelson sat him 16 minutes straight, putting him back in at the very end for his sealing steal and the safe FTs. (AR sat all Q4, too, so nothing new in loony land there.)
It was right after Curry got sat, tho, that Nash REALLY took off, scoring at least 11 in the last four minutes of Q3, and staying hot well into Q4. (Getting open shot after open shot helped, of course, but Nash WAS sizzling.)
Finally, with about five minutes to go, Nash just ran out of gas (largely from being on the back end of a B2B, but also in part because Curry had moved with him so much earlier, precluding any floor rest). From that point on Nash couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn whether he was covered — and he generally wasn’t, at least by Watson — or not. Had he not worn down at the end, the Suns almost surely would have won.
So, I’m not saying Curry’s a great defender by any means. But, he IS a lot better than he was when the season started, and he’s improving all the time. He’s playing screens better, and he’s tighter on his man.
(Nelson lost “genius” status over a decade ago, but he was smart enough to let Curry play both CP and Nash straight up, and it didn’t work out too badly. Indeed, had the Fat Man been smart enough to play AR at the end of the NO game — instead of Watson — Curry might have had some help on CP’s last drive.)
His engine doesn’t stop so much anymore, either. I say cut the kid some slack because he’s shown he CAN get better. And he’s by far the smartest W on the floor. Let’s see if he can keep it up against Rondo tonight.
P.S. Assuming Nelson’s bright enough to play AR at the four — a BIG assumption — the real fun match-up tonight should be Monta-Allen — and I expect Monta to be on fire on O. So, we might just see some defensive switches between him and Curry. It’ll be a tougher game than Phoenix, but it still could be fun. Here’s hoping.
David Barnes December 28th, 2009 at 3:56 pm
Okay, want to weigh in on this as well as I was at the game on Saturday. What I consider poor defense is a layup drill and that was definitely not the case against Phoenix.Shooters make shots and there was a good number of them on the floor and it was less a case of poor defense and more of a case of the tempo of the game. Great game to watch BTW. I’m pretty happy with Curry and he’s made major steps forward IMHO so far this season. The shot looks a lot better as he build his strength up to NBA level and the behind the back pass to Monta that he in turn delivered to Randolph was gorgeous. Curry/Nash was great to watch and for once I agree with Fitzgerald that it was great to watch the two of them going back and forth.
As for JSL’s comments on whether Nellie is smart enough to play Randolph at the 4 tonight, I freaking’ doubt it. Whatever Nelson is trying to prove here is escaping me and he’s my single least favorite part of Warrior’s basketball (and that’s saying something).
The glaring Curry realities are really freaking folks out.
Any player can get “better” at defense by learning better technique, communicating better with his teammates, and, particularly with rookies, learning more about the guys he is guarding and the most effective ways to handle them.
But Curry has two limitations on his ability to become an excellent defender. One is his slight frame. The other is that he plays for a Warriors team coached by Don Nelson. Rarely has that ever been a recipe for defensive success.
I wish him all the best, and I’m sure he’ll improve over time. But I don’t expect anyone to be mistaking him for Ron Artest anytime soon.
CURSE OF MULLIN December 28th, 2009 at 4:52 pm
Geoff, Nash beat the W’s mostly on jump shots. The Warriors’ scheme was to have the help defender on the P/R p-up Nash and stay with him, so in most cases he was scoring on the help defender, not Curry or CJ. Your issue for that game should be with the W’s defensive scheme. But we beat a much better team so it couldn’t have been that bad, right?
COM is really losing his s–t over the Curry disaster.
Say hi to Ray and Bobby for us!
CC: You can’t hide it anymore. You keep trying to crap on Curry, but the way it’s coming out now it’s pretty clear you’re warming to the kid’s marvelous talents.
Don’t need to concede it; in fact, keep on trashing him — even after a slew of games (four in a row, now) where he’s starting to come into his own. Check the kid’s numbers over those games: they’re all markedly better than his season average. And remember, twas you who coined the wonderful — if meaningless — phrase re his amazing RB prowess for such a little gnat: “amoeba zone thing.” I love it!
A quick trash (e.g. “Curry realities are really freaking folks out” — Uh, yes they ARE, but in a positive way) is far better than than a lengthy (increasingly empty) critique.
But let me really tee it up for you, CC. Try THIS on. So far, Curry’s biggest offensive hole has been his inability to drive off the dribble. He’s a brilliant passer; he runs the floor well — and he’s learning to run the show well, too; his shot’s coming around nicely; the others on the team — including Monta and Maggette — are starting to get it with him. He keeps his cool like a 10-year vet.
But he’s still weak to the hole.
My surmise is that by this time next year — after he’s been around the league a few times — he’ll have developed a drive style that works. (Even Cancer Jack learned how to use his “slowness” effectively around the hoop.) I really think it’s just a matter of learning the ropes — and how to move around and through bigger, faster trees. But it’ll come — and within the next year or so, I’d bet.
Now, he’s still not the prototypical fast guy out there — could never keep up with Monta. But he’s quick, because he sees what’s happening before anyone else. And he’s ALWAYS moving. And a move to the hole WILL come.
So, don’t be surprised if — in a year or two — you start hearing some comparisons between Curry and an old fave of mine — Tiny Archibald. (Pause for laughter — followed by, hmmm. . . .) Look at some old film of Nate. (There’s a lot on YouTube.) He moves almost like a carbon of Curry — faster, but in the same slippery-sliding style.
Curry’s a long way from being another Tiny. But the tools and the temperament are there for substantial improvement — tho it’d come a lot faster if he didn’t have an albatross like Nelson hanging him up. (A real coach would play Curry-Monta-Maggette/Morrow-AR-Goose — teach ‘em how to play out of offensive sets; teach ‘em how to play team D; teach ‘em to value the ball, etc.) But this kid’s very good — and getting better all the time. GIVE him some time, and see for yourself.
OK, CC. Back to you. Let me have it.
After the Celts game: OOOOPS!
My bad; at least for now. Going to go fall on my sword now.
The Real Steph December 29th, 2009 at 2:48 pm
jsl That went way over CC’s head. Nice try. I agree with his unconfessed love for Curry. He’s just pulling a pony tail on the someone he’s not supposed to like. Other than that, he’s an absolute genius when breaking down the finer points of basketball, or what it means to play competitive sports.
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