The Seth Curry liberation is upon us.
When the former Duke Blue Devil signed a two-year $6 million contract in July, the deal had “steal” marked in ink. And Curry proved to be a valuable role player through the treacherous start to this season. His insertion into the starting lineup created a line of demarcation for the “bad” Mavericks and the “good” Mavericks. The additional playmaking and marksmanship from beyond the arc made him an ideal pairing with a proficient but athletically limited Deron Williams. To the naked eye, Curry looked like a complementary piece; one that would aid a rebuild, not drive it.
Curry shot 50-40-90 in the month of February
The last month of Curry’s play would suggest differently. He scored 16.7 points per game on 53 percent from the field, 46 percent on threes and 95 percent from the line. The month of February was quite kind to Seth. To frame that ungodly efficiency, Dirk shot 48 percent from the field, 46 percent on threes and 94 percent from the line during the 2011 playoffs.
Since Deron Williams was released during the all-star break, Curry has had free rein to launch from anywhere on the court. He’s scoring 24 a game since the break with an efficiency that’s absolutely asinine: 58 percent from the field, 61 percent on threes and 100 percent from the line.
The full throated commitment to a youth movement has laid the ground work for Curry’s offensive freedom. He proved he could be efficient in a controlled role and now Rick Carlisle has unlocked the shackles on Seth’s game. “Coach [Carlisle] is very methodical in his play calls,” said Barnes after the win against the Heat. “He gave him a little bit of leash, he did well, and then he kind of gave him a little more rope, and he’s been able to have success with that.”
Improved ball handling led to improved shooting
Curry has become more comfortable with the ball in his hands as the season has progressed. That’s a function of experience as well as Mavs assistant coach God Shammgod’s ball handling tutelage. Curry always had a flamethrower attached to his shoulder, but his ball handling improvement has allowed him to get to his spots with ease.
Although his game has grown exponentially, his confidence has always been sky high. “He didn’t have a confidence problem when he got here, and he still doesn’t,” said Carlisle after the win. Do not let Curry’s shy demeanor fool you. Anyone who takes a shot like this, with a healthy shot clock and a two-point deficit late in the game, is a bad bad man.
The new two-man game
Curry’s confidence is reminiscent of another Mavs combo guard who could shoot the lights out and occasionally thought he was a JET plane. Down the stretch, Curry and Barnes closed out the game by running continuous two man action that the Heat struggled to guard. This has been a staple of the Mavericks crunch time offense during the Dirk era, but this new strain of the two-man game positions Nowitzki as a bystander.
Barnes’ evolution into an isolation maestro is the bedrock of the new two man game. All season Barnes has picked on mismatches in the mid-post, but he’s never had a pick-and-roll handler to really exhaust the limits of the two-man game. Curry’s emergence gives Barnes the partner that can punish a defense for playing a conservative defensive scheme or switching a big onto the ball handler. The pairing has a lot of Terry and Nowitzki in their DNA. “I’m trying to make the right reads coming off [the screen],” said Curry about his chemistry with Barnes in the two man game. “I know they’re going to give him a lot of attention when he sets those screens or switch or not leave his body as much. When he gets that slip I’m trying to deliver him the ball, but my first job is being aggressive.”
With six weeks left in the season, Dallas needs to find out how far Seth can stretch his wings. A canyon exists between microwave player off the bench and a legitimate 20-point scorer. Curry will get the chance to prove which side he belongs on. His development down the stretch will be every bit as crucial as Nerlens Noel’s.
Seth Curry has been liberated, and for the Mavericks, there may be no looking back.