Could Mavs target guards despite Curry breakout?

This story really starts with Seth Curry. The Mavericks have him on a very friendly contract through this year, one that pales in comparison to those being handed out to players who are no better than him even right now. That’s also the problem. Not to pick on him, but if someone like Cristianio Felicio, who averaged (roughly) 5 points and 5 rebounds in 16 minutes a game last year receives $8 million a year – not to mention the Mavs’ own Dwight Powell – 1 27-year old Seth Curry will get serious money thrown in his direction next offseason, even if he’s no better this year than he was last. That’s just where the standard for pieces like him is, right now.

That’s tough for a team trying to figure out what their young core will look like. Nerlens Noel, a terrific prospect who showed flashes of greatness last year, is a clear priority. Harrison Barnes is a player whose stature in the league is still disputed but who the Mavs have already made their choice about – he’s their young star. He’s staying. But what the Mavs would do to keep Curry the Younger, and what they should do, are both much harder to say.

First of all, it's not at all clear how to evaluate Seth’s career. He’s been in the league for four years now, but two years ago was his first season with any playing time and last year his first with anything substantial. From one perspective he’s a 26 year old guard who couldn’t crack bad rosters. He's also a poor defender and a bad distributor. From the other, he’s a elite-level shooter with room to grow.

A comparison with his more famous brother makes both sides of the case clear. In Steph’s 2nd year of full-time minutes, he averaged 18.6 points and 5.8 assists compared to Seth’s 12.8 and 2.7 last year in only 4 more minutes a game. On the other hand, Seth’s .481 field goal percentage and .425 3-point mark line last year wouldn’t look too bad even by Steph’s lofty standards. In fact, Seth’s effective field goal percentage last year, a measure of his efficiency both from behind the arc and from within was .578, better than Steph’s mark in four out of eight years, and just .002 worse than what the 2-time MVP Curry managed last year. The comparison isn't completely fair because teams defend the two so differently but the point is, Seth can shoot. He can really shoot.

The reason this matters is that if the Mavs think, right now, that they won’t want to pay Seth next year, they may try to solve their shooting guard situation this offseason. Some people have thrown out the name of Ben McLemore – here’s a good piece on that from Mavs Moneyball and another from Mavs Fanatic. McLemore certainly fits their M.O. from the last two years. He's highly athletic, shoots well and was the 7th pick in the 2013 draft. Despite having drafted terribly for a rather long time now, the Mavs would suddenly have four guys drafted in the top nine since 2012, including Barnes (7th in 2012), Noel (6th in 2013), and Dennis Smith, Jr. (9th in 2017). He would also be, to a certain extent like Barnes and Noel, a reclamation product.

Solid rumors have not emerged in this direction, and I don’t know if they will. The point is not focused on any one person, it’s what the Mavs might be interesting in doing. There’s no hurry here, and if they the team thinks Seth either is or could be their shooting guard of the future they’ll want to see what he can do. If, however, they think they’ll be moving on in a year, SG is certainly a position they could look to improve right now.

For more on the Mavericks and also history, follow Dr. Andrew Tobolowsky on Twitter at @AndyTobo.

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