It’s official: Seth Curry just pulled off his best season as a professional basketball player. After the Sacramento Kings (somewhat inexplicably) allowed him to leave in free agency, Dallas added Curry as yet another under-the-radar, youngish NBA pickup. He set career highs in nearly every statistic, but most important for Dallas was his shooting, ball handling, and continued all-around development as a player.
Curry averaged a “triple slash” line of 12.8/2.7/2.5 (that’s points/assists/rebounds for those in the know). His PER, John Hollinger’s efficiency stat, was 15.5— just above the NBA average of 15. More subtly, Curry added a little over a steal a game and was a surprisingly difficult player to score on in a two-on-one situation as he baited drivers, took charges, swiped at the ball, and anticipated passes in normally hopeless defensive situations.
In fact, throughout the season Seth showed great anticipation in a number of defensive and offensive plays, occasionally giving the team flashes of near precognition as he seemed to know just before somebody would come open on offense or a pass would be coming on defense.
Most importantly, he brought stability at the backup guard spots with his shooting and nearly three assists per game. He also scored at 42.5% from three-point range, which was a critical element of floor spacing for a Dallas team that likes to open up and operate with elbow and short corner isos, spread pick and roll attacks, and other plays that require the threat of a weakside shooter punishing a collapsing defense.
Curry will enter the second and final year of his 2-year, $6 million contract next season and then enter free agency in 2018. Like so many Mavericks before him, the big question will be whether Dallas has rehabilitated his value enough that someone else will pay him more than the Mavs want to commit (following in the footsteps of Al-Farouq Aminu, Vince Carter, and others), or if he has found an equilibrium that makes for a nice fit and a nice price with the Mavericks.
Key for Seth moving forward in Dallas will be this contract year. If he keeps knocking down threes, takes care of the ball, and develops a little more off-the-bounce verve to his game, he can become more of a secondary ball handler and scorer in a way that Dallas hasn’t seen since the heyday of Jason Terry. Depending on who Dallas takes in the draft, Curry will be of most value if he can develop into an above average on-ball defender at either guard position, despite his short stature. Ideally, he’ll add the additional physical skills that will open up his mental game to more devastating effect. With Curry’s quick hands and mind alongside Dallas’s other promising young defenders, the Mavericks could be looking at one of the best defenses they’ve had in the Dirk Nowitzki era.