When the opening bell of free agency rang, Seth Curry wasn’t on many people’s radars. After a Western Conference Finals appearance with the Portland Trail Blazers where he shot 40 percent from deep, renegotiations seemed plausible. Then players started flying off the board while the Mavericks’ activity seemed dormant, until Dallas and Curry agreed to a four-year deal on July 1 — by all accounts was first time the team had been linked to Curry all offseason.
It was a surprising move considering Dallas was reported to have its sights set on the likes of Kemba Walker, Al Horford, Khris Middleton, Tobias Harris, Patrick Beverley and Danny Green. But, Curry’s reunion with the Mavericks was precisely the type of acquisition this team needed.
Dallas’ shrewd signing of the journeyman in 2016 paid dividends when he averaged nearly 13 points and three assists in 29 minutes per game during his first season with the Mavs. By mid-January, Curry was elevated to the starting lineup and averaged 15 points while shooting 50 percent from the field, 45 percent from deep and 89 percent from the free throw line. In the 36 games Curry started, Dallas went 20-16.
Curry’s actual NBA debut was in April 2016 with the Sacramento Kings, but his true breakout was that first season in Dallas. He was an offensive spark plug, recording the second highest OBPM (offensive box plus-minus) at 1.8, behind only J.J. Barea’s 2.0 (who only played 35 games that season). His 2.9 offensive win shares was the highest mark on the team, and he registered a blistering .601 true shooting percentage.
Take a look at his shot chart from the 2016-17 campaign:
An above average shooter from just about everywhere on the court, Curry’s skillset allowed him to thrive. As a spot up shooter, he scored 1.13 points per possession ranking him in the 82nd percentile, but he was even more lethal hoisting off screens where he scored 1.24 points per possession, ranking him in the 93rd percentile. He was just as dynamic with the ball in his hands canning 45 percent of his pull-up triples.
But Curry’s impact wasn’t predicated solely on shooting. When he piloted the pick-and-roll he created .99 points per possession ranking him in the 89th percentile. He’s not the fastest, strongest or most athletic, but he’s crafty and simply doesn’t turn the ball over as evident by his career 11.3 turnover percentage.
It’s hard to not envision Curry having a similar impact, if not greater, in his second act with the Mavericks. Consider the supporting cast in his first stint. Harrison Barnes was the lead role in his first year in Dallas, Deron Williams played lead guard before being waived in February, and at 38, Dirk Nowitzki was the second leading scorer.
With the Portland Trail Blazers, alongside game-changing talent in Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, Curry saw his efficiency increase, scoring 1.32 points per possession spotting up, ranking him in the 97th percentile. His general three point catch-and-shoot numbers climbed from 40 percent with the Mavericks to 50 percent with the Trail Blazers. And he even showed signs of growth as an initiator scoring 1.02 points per possessions in the pick-and-roll while registering a minuscule 10.6 percent turnover frequency.
The Mavericks are a long ways off from the Trail Blazers, but Curry will be plugged in to potentially game-changing players in Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. The fit with Doncic is obvious as Curry has firmly cemented himself as one of the game’s premier sharp shooters. He’s nearly a 50 percent sniper from both corners and possesses the aptitude to attack defenders on close outs. And while we’re all drooling over the Doncic-Porzingis pairing, the Curry-Porzingis two-man action will be exciting in its own right. If the defense goes under the Porzingis screen, Curry has an open look at a pull up jumper. The defense chasing over the top gives Curry an open lane to attack with numbers. And the defense switching gives both Curry and Porzingis mismatches to exploit.
The Mavericks’ free agency has been discussed ad nauseam, and the criticisms are certainly fair. But acquiring Curry for $8 million per year is a move that should be praised. He’s automatically the best shooter the Mavericks have had since ... the last time the team had Curry. He can seamlessly slide into the starting two guard spot or be a spark plug off the bench and his game is malleable enough to give Rick Carlisle lineup options.
Health permitting, Curry should flourish with the Mavericks once again.