Perhaps third time will be the charm for Seth Curry in Dallas. That isn’t to say his previous two stints with the Dallas Mavericks wasn’t productive. The 6’2 sharpshooter had some of his most productive seasons in the NBA playing for the Mavericks, but the first time fizzled out after injury and the second term ended in a trade.
No matter how long this stretch lasts, the Mavericks know they have a reliable shooter in Curry. Since that November draft night deal that sent him to Philadelphia Curry was one of the best long range bombers in the league for both the 76ers and then the Brooklyn Nets — the majority of the time spent as a starter until last season. Now Curry joins a Mavericks team rebuilding on the fly, adding scoring depth to a bench that was left wanting for much of last season.
The biggest question for Curry in Dallas: what is the size of his role? There is no doubt when looking at the moves this offseason that the Mavericks front office was searching for defensive help. Curry doesn’t provide that, which makes his role feel somewhat redundant to Tim Hardaway Jr.’s (even if there is a size difference). Does Curry provide support off the bench alongside Hardaway, or is his role in waiting while the Mavericks look for a Hardaway trade partner?
I will never argue depth as a team rebuilds. The Mavericks didn’t necessarily have scoring problems last season, but it never hurts to load up on perimeter reinforcements. Early in the season it will be worth watching to see how Curry is deployed, and who he shares the backcourt with. He will need to be paired with defenders to balance the floor, which means he likely only spends time next to Kyrie Irving if the other three players are defensive stoppers. Curry’s role in Dallas, assuming he stays healthy, will be worth keeping an eye on, especially how it relates to Hardaway.
Best Case Scenario
Curry’s best True-Shooting Percentage for a full season was his last run in Dallas, at 64.3-percent. Is it fair to ask him to replicate that after a few more years of age and miles on his legs? No, probably not. Especially considering he’s battled injuries on the wrong side of 30 years old. But this is Best Case Scenario, after all. Curry is a pure shooter with a nose for spacing the floor and filling passing lanes along the perimeter. He’ll be playing next to some of the best creators and penetrators, finding teammates at the three point line, in Luka Doncic and Irving.
Last season in Brooklyn he came off the bench for 54 of his 61 games, which meant fewer three-point attempts (still shot over 40-percent). But in the three previous years Curry was fourth, fifth, and second in three-point percentage among the league’s high volume shooters. He’s lethal in catch-and-shoot situations, a large part of the Mavericks’ framework. While Curry will be on the floor less than his last time in Dallas, there’s no reason to think he can’t hit three threes per game in a supporting role, returning to form as one of the most efficient and lethal three point shooters in the league.
Worst Case Scenario
Worst Case for Curry in Dallas will come from one or two scenarios (or both): health or redundancy. With a history of leg and ankle injuries, the 33 year old guard has battled availability all the way back to his first time in Dallas when he missed the entire 2017-18 season with a fractured tibia. On average he has appeared in 61 games each season over the last three years. The hope would be in a role that demands less of him in playing time will allow Curry to be fresher longer.
The other possibility is Curry not slotting neatly into a perimeter spot, fighting against Tim Hardaway Jr — and to a lesser extent, Jaden Hardy — for playing time. All three of these players do not provide defensive prowess, which Jason Kidd is desperately looking for to pair alongside Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic. There are other defenders to throw out there off the bench, but if the Mavericks don’t find a trade partner for Hardaway (something that has been a nearly four-year saga it seems), there should be concern they will forfeit too much defense in trying to find roles for both veteran shooters.
Because his offensive skillset pairs so well with Doncic, Curry’s goal should be a return to his last Dallas form: 12.4 points per game on 45-percent shooting from deep. He played in 64 games in that 2019-20 season (25 as a starter), and averaged 24.6 minutes per game. I’m not sure he’ll post those minute totals consistently, but it should be seen as a success if Curry plays in 65+ games. Kidd will be tasked with finding a creative stroke in his rotations to maximize all of his guard weapons. But I trust that will iron itself out one way or other.
Curry is an easy player to root for, and seeing his catch-and-shoot arsenal off of no-look Doncic passes to the corner will be like visiting an old college friend. Both times he departed Dallas felt bittersweet, and both times they sorely missed his play. While there may be some more miles on his legs, his game has stayed the same. It will be fun having Seth Curry back in Dallas.