NBA: Curry has a shot built to last

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 9, 2013

By Scott Ostler

San Francisco Chronicle
SAN FRANCISCO — It was payoff time for a proud pop.
Dell Curry is the TV color analyst for the Charlotte Bobcats. On Feb. 27, the Bobcats flew from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City. Curry checked into his hotel room and flipped on the TV to the ESPN NBA game, Warriors against Knicks at Madison Square Garden — which was about to become Studio 54.
The second quarter was starting. Dell’s son Stephen had scored four points in the first quarter, on 2-for-6 shooting. Dad sat down to watch.
Dell Curry was a great NBA shooter. Late in his career when he gave shooting clinics, he brought along his two sons, Stephen and Seth, who loved hoops and didn’t mind sitting through Dad’s lectures.
On the family driveway, Dell worked with the boys, but casually.
“When they shot here at the house,” Curry says, “I made sure they did things the right way. But I didn’t go out and say, ‘All right, it’s time for your 30-minute shooting instruction,’ nothing like that. I always watched ‘em, made sure they were doing it the right way. Taught ‘em, really, without them knowing it, through my clinics.”
Curry, in a phone interview Wednesday, recalled the summer that Stephen almost quit the sport. Now he’s a fourth-year NBA guard whose game has advanced a significant notch this season.
Stephen missed being selected for the All-Star Game, but his high-visibility 54-point game against the Knicks did two things. It introduced Curry to casual NBA fans, and, among the league’s more hard-core hard core, it elevated the appreciation and respect for his game.
Jerry West, a Warriors special adviser, bristles when he talks of the All-Star snub.
“He should have been on the All-Star team, period. OK?” West says. “A lot of coaches who didn’t vote for him should maybe look in a mirror. He was worthy, he was worthy.”
Some people — I’m one of them — are starting to throw Curry into the discussion of the game’s best pure shooters, now and all-time. I pulled Warriors’ backup point guard Jarrett Jack into the discussion Tuesday, because Jack is a student of the game.
“I don’t know where to put Steph, all-time,” Jack said, “but he’s definitely the best-shooting point guard in the league right now. By far. Not even close. Not even close. It’s like there’s him, and then there’s a blank space, and then there’s somebody else. I just think that’s how far ahead of everybody else he is.”
What does Jack like about Curry’s shooting?
“Everything. Form, distance, the (variety of) ways he makes his shots — off the dribble, catch-and-shoot. A lot of the time he just really leaves me shaking my head. … There are (three-point) specialists, but he’s definitely the best player and shooter I’ve ever played with. … This kid is unbelievable. And the percentage he’s hitting from three-point range is ridiculous. Eleven of 13 in New York? Come on, man, that’s crazy.”
Curry has a distinct skill/personality set. To find someone with a similar blend of plus-plus hoop attributes, you’d have to go all the way to the Warriors’ executive offices, to Mr. West.
Not surprisingly, Jerry West is a big Curry guy. West praises Curry’s passion for the game, his quiet confidence, his old-school modesty, his growing shot repertoire, his expanding ability to size up situations and match-ups, his free-throw shooting, his quick release, and “his range is right up there with the best we’ve ever seen.”
And as for shooting …

“For pure form,” West says, “I don’t know many guys I would pick over him, I really don’t.”
As a kid, Stephen was small and slight, and his “jumper” was a heave that started super-low, below the belt.
“Between his sophomore and junior year” of high school, Dell Curry says, “I told him, ‘If you want to play at the next level, college, you’re going to have to move your shot above your head, or else you’re going to get it blocked every time.’
“So we just took that summer and changed his shot. It was pretty frustrating for him, he almost quit playing that summer, but he stuck with it and got to where we all wanted it to be.”
Stephen was a practice junkie, loved-loved-loved to shoot.
“He used to get mad on days he couldn’t go to practice with me,” Dell Curry says, “and it wasn’t because he wanted to go hang out with the NBA guys. He wanted to go to the gym to work on his game.
“The way he handles the basketball, and the way he shoots off the dribble, is second to none in the league,” Curry says, adding, “I can’t remember a guy in the league that shot it that well. … He can create his own shot, he’s got unlimited range. And the way he passes the ball … if he’s in the pick-and-roll area, you gotta pick your poison.”