Steph who? Mavs' Curry erupting as starter

Steph who? That’s the question Dallas Mavericks fans have jokingly been asking in recent weeks. The Steph in question is, of course, Golden State Warriors guard and former MVP Stephen Curry, brother of Mavs guard Seth Curry. Previously, the two were only mentioned together because of their familial ties, but as of late, Seth’s play has been drawing comparisons to his more famous brother. In fact, as the team chases a playoff berth, the Mavericks’ Curry has emerged as one of the team’s best offensive threats, establishing himself as a player opponents can’t ignore.

Things really started to come together for Curry when head coach Rick Carlisle permanently inserted him into the starting lineup against the Phoenix Suns in Mexico City on January 12. This was also the game in which Carlisle moved Dirk Nowitzki to starting center full-time. Previously, Curry was good in a reserve role, though he had some spot starts. He was averaging 10.1 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 2.8 assists in 26.2 minutes per game while shooting 44.7 percent from the floor and 39.7 percent from behind the arc. Those are by no means numbers to scoff at. They’re good. Really good, in fact. But as a starter, Curry has erupted offensively.

Since that fateful night in Mexico, he’s averaging 16 points on 51.4 percent shooting including 47.2 percent on 3-pointers. Even more impressive, prior to January 29, Curry had never scored more than 23 points in a game with the Mavs. Since that time, he’s done it three times. He dropped 24 on the San Antonio Spurs on the Jan. 29, 31 against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Feb. 24, and most recently 29 against the Miami Heat on Feb. 27.

What has helped Curry is his ability to score from anywhere on the court. Don’t see tweets below? Go here.

This chart includes the six games that Curry started before the move was permanent, but it tells the same story: He is far and away better than the league average. In isolation situations, as both a starter and coming off the bench, he scores on 50 percent of his possessions, per NBA.com/stats. On spot-ups, he has an effective field goal percentage of 58.1 percent. Coming off screens, that percentage jumps to 65 for 1.27 points per possession, and as the ball handler in pick-and-rolls, something he has improved on as the season has progressed, he ranks in the 82nd percentile in the league.

Those are a lot of fancy numbers that just mean that Curry can beat defenders in multiple ways, and he’s only gotten more aggressive as the season has progressed. Carlisle, though, is quick to point out that Curry has improved his all-around game.

“He’s really gotten better in all areas,” Carlisle said after the Mavs’ 96-89 win over the Heat. “The scoring is where everybody’s noticing but he’s defending well too and the playmaking is another part of his game that’s getting better.”

Carlisle also noted that Curry has remained a confident player since the day he joined the team. There’s probably not a better illustration of that confidence than the shot he took with the game on the line against the Heat, Monday night.

Does that picture remind you of anyone? Another Curry perhaps? Since Curry got the full-time starting nod, the team is 13-8. His play has been a large part of why the Mavericks have turned things around after starting the season 4-17. What’s more, he’s coming into his own as a player, stepping out of the shadow of his brother, and forging his own path in the NBA. The league is big enough for two Currys, after all, and the Mavericks are very happy to have one.

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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