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Coming off of an injury shortened season last year, Stephen Curry has the opportunity to rebound but he doesn’t have to stop there.
The pieces are in place for Curry to become a premiere point guard in the NBA.
He has already shown glimpses of his potential but after 2+ seasons in the NBA, Curry has the experience necessary to find a comfort zone in an already competitive Western Conference.
Here are five reasons Curry can really make a name for himself next season and take a trip to the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas as an NBA All Star.
1. He finally has the size and skill in the post
Stephen Curry has previously had players like Andris Biedrins to complement David Lee in the post. Needless to say, that hasn’t really worked out.
Now that he has Andrew Bogut and David Lee at center and power forward, Curry has two players to go to in the post. David Lee proved last season that he is a top forward in the league, averaging 20 points and 9.6 rebounds per game on 50 percent shooting.
Curry averages just under six assists per game over his career and should see that number increase with Bogut and Lee providing reasonable contributions on offense.
2. No more Monta Ellis
Monta Ellis is a great—sometimes even an elite—scorer, there is no doubt about that.
But he was not helping the Warriors perform very well as a team. His selfish play was useful when he was at his best, but if he had an off-night and was still shooting the ball, the Warriors couldn’t win.
Ellis is a great scorer but not on the level of other comparably selfish scorers like Russell Westbrook and Kobe Bryant. Those guys are nightly threats to put up 25 or 30.
Stephen Curry is the prime beneficiary of the Monta trade because not only does he get players that better complement his strengths (Richard Jefferson and Bogut) but he will be in control of playmaking for more minutes, thereby allowing him to create for teammates and himself.
3. He has other guards to work with
All-Rookie First team guard Klay Thompson has shown he is a terrific shooter.
The 22-year-old from Washington State played in all 66 regular season games for the Warriors (starting 29 of them) as a rookie. He shot 41 percent from three and 87 percent from the line. That’s not bad, but if he is even better during his sophomore season in the NBA, Klay Thompson could be a driving force in a Golden State playoff run.
The recent addition of Jarret Jack increases depth at the guard position and could really help Curry reach his full potential. Jack is primarily a point guard and the idea of Curry moving over to the two-guard could allow him to take on more of a scoring role, which will also take off some pressure of setting up his teammates every offensive play.
While this “going small” may have been a bad idea in years past, it seems like a perfectly legitimate idea for the Warriors next season. Monta had been playing the majority of the minutes at shooting guard and going small never boded well for the Warriors who had no really competent big man.
Now they have some flexibility with rookie Harrison Barnes and veteran presences in Lee and Bogut.
4. He has the talent to succeed
The Western Conference has a plethora of strong point guards.
On a 12-man All-Star roster, the West had four point guards: Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Tony Parker and Steve Nash. Curry will have a difficult time competing with Westbrook and Paul if they remain healthy but he could certainly be in the mix with Parker and Nash.
Many people believe that Nash can succeed and be rejuvenated on the Los Angeles Lakers but it also has the potential to backfire. Kobe Bryant has been confrontational with his teammates (see Pau Gasol in the 2012 playoffs) and with trade talks constantly swirling around Gasol and Andrew Bynum, the Nash signing may not go quite as well as planned.
Parker may only be 30 years old, but his relatively humble statistics are something that may deter him from earning a spot on the All Star team if Curry can put up the numbers that he is capable of.
Curry has proven he is a lights-out free-throw shooter (career 90 percent from the line even with a “bad” 81 percent from the line in 26 games last season). And his three-point shooting is Nash-esque—Curry is a career 44 percent shooter from three (Nash is 43 percent and Ray Allen is 40 percent).
If Curry can increase his assist numbers a bit and put up a line something like 19 points, 7.5 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game there is no reason he shouldn’t be in the conversation.
And he is perfectly capable of doing just that.
5. Bay Area fans are dedicated to their sports teams
With fan voting, fan bases matter.
And half of the 2012 NL All-Star team were San Francisco Giants players. Matt Cain, Pablo Sandoval, Melky Cabrera and Buster Posey all represented the Bay Area in Kansas City.
Cabrera even took home the ASG MVP award.
Warrior fans have consistently filled up the arena in Oakland even as Golden State struggles to make it into the eight-slot in the perennially challenging Western Conference.
Right or wrong, if Curry puts up respectable numbers the Bay Area will undoubtedly rush to put one of their own in the All Star game.