In the beginning, the game did not include a 3-point line. Dunking was foreign, and passing was a given. There was less flash, and fundamentals combined with a team approach seemed to always prevail. In contemporary NBA basketball, we have a league where fundamentals complement the athletic, fast-paced style of play. Power forwards are knocking down 25-footers, point guards are jumping out the gym, and the traditional center position seems to have vanished.
The NBA is the most competitive league of basketball in the world, the global standard. Basketball hopefuls attempt to emulate the style and moves of contemporary NBA superstars, and currently, there is a NBA great who is rewriting the rules to the game: Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors has been the highlight reel of the NBA as of late. His style is paralleled by none, but is Stephen Curry’s surge good or bad for the brand of basketball?
Last year, the world witnessed a primarily “jump-shooting” team, the Golden State Warriors, win the NBA title. Thus far during this 2015-2016 NBA season, Golden State has already posted a historic 24-consecutive (single-season) winning streak led by the unique superstar of Curry. The Davidson prospect was the MVP of the regular-season last year and is a MVP favorite this season.
Curry’s success as a basketball phenom has some credible analyst naming him the greatest shooter of all-time. With astronomical shooting percentages from the field and beyond the arc, Curry is currently leading the NBA in points per game. It is not “what” Curry is doing that is alarming, it is “how” he is doing it. This man is knocking down highly contested, long distance shots on a routine basis. Unlike most of his shooting predecessors, Curry can create his own shot, and his handle of the basketball is remarkable. The MVP is able to dribble the ball for 7+ seconds and score 30 feet away from the basket. As amazing as his highlights are, is this a style of basketball we want to see emulated?
The premise is simple: the style of play that Curry exemplifies is not the way basketball should be played. He is licensed to play this style because he has been consistent and it has brought him and the Warriors success. It’s his style and it has worked for him. However, specifically when teaching the game to young players, Curry’s game-tape should not be referenced.
The Golden State Warriors’ point guard currently (thus far this 2015-2016 NBA season) attempts 20 field goals per game with 10 of them being from the 3-point line. Any basketball traditionalist can see the concern in these figures. A point guard should not be taking 20 shots per game, and half of a player’s shots should not be from beyond the arc.
The Warriors license the MVP to shoot any shot he desires, but it is not good basketball to be shooting 3-pointers on 2-1, 3-2 fast breaks, as Curry often does. It is not good basketball to be shooting contested 30-footers whenever you want. Stephen Curry is an amazing player and he embodies the entertainment aspect of the NBA, but the lunacy that clouds his game should not be mimicked.
Young players should aspire to be great ball handlers and shooters like Curry, but the shot-selection and sometimes over dribbling should be left to the only individual it is working for (Curry). Imagine a high school player going into a basketball tryout playing like Curry. Even if the player was knocking down shots, how could his style of play be cohesive with a high school coach’s offensive scheme?
Stephen Curry is a once in a lifetime type of player. Now imagine the same high school player going into a high school tryout and emulating a style like Tony Parker. The Parker-like tactics would be far more coachable and easier to integrate with an offensive scheme, especially on a high school, AAU, or college level.
The surge of Stephen Curry has been nothing short of amazing and it will be interesting to see how long he can sustain this level of play. We have never seen a player like Curry. It is vital to appreciate his uniqueness but what he is doing should not serve as a blueprint for basketball supremacy. Great shooting, great handling of the basketball, and great patience are all important aspects of the game that should be learned by up and coming players. Leave the entertainment part to the entertainers getting paid to do it.