Seth Curry offers little in the way of rebounding and nothing in the way of lockdown defense.
As we cover in the video above, that’s not why the Sixers traded for him. The 30-year-old has earned his reputation as one of the NBA’s best shooters, hitting a league-best 48.1 percent of his catch-and-shoot three-pointers last season with the Mavericks (minimum 100 attempts). He produced 130.3 points per 100 shot attempts, according to Cleaning the Glass, in the 99th percentile among combo guards. A decline in Philadelphia is always possible — Tobias Harris experienced it — but Curry’s worst three-point shooting year in the NBA, excluding a two-game stint with the Suns in 2014-15, is 42.5 percent.
Given the Sixers’ recent past, it’s natural to think of Curry as a JJ Redick duplicate, someone who can drain jumpers, draw attention and play a tricky two-man game with Joel Embiid. Curry should fill the Redick role in some ways, especially in terms of the respect he merits. He’s also improvisational and persistent as an off-ball mover, finding ways to get open once the defense denies the initial action.
He graded out well in a variety of play types last year, handoffs included, but Curry handoffs have never been a staple of a team’s offense.
“I know ... they did a lot of dribble handoffs and elbow actions and stuff like that,” Curry said on Nov. 25. “I score in a little bit of a different way than JJ as far as putting it on the floor a little bit more. Obviously we both can shoot the ball. Whatever Joel is comfortable with and what he’s used to running, I’m trying to come in and make life easier for him and Ben (Simmons).
“I feel like my game can adapt in a lot of different ways. I think that’s why I’ve been able to have a successful career thus far, being able to do a lot of different things on the offensive side of the floor. Whatever situations Doc and the team put me in, I feel like I can thrive in it. I’m ready to go.”
Curry said he thinks himself and Simmons are “kind of a perfect match,” citing the help defenders Simmons attracts. He also mentioned that he should be able to guard smaller players when he shares the floor with Simmons. The 6-foot-2 Curry doesn’t have the quickness or strength to afford defensive lapses, but he is known as a smart team defender and may benefit slightly from the pairing with Simmons. Head coach Doc Rivers will surely try his best to avoid giving Curry taxing defensive matchups.
If you’re not too familiar with Curry, certain non-three-point elements of his repertoire might come as a pleasant surprise. One of those is his mid-range game. Since he manages far fewer attempts at the rim than the average guard, it’s important that he’s efficient inside the arc. He converted 51 percent of his two-point shots not at the rim last year, according to Cleaning the Glass, in the 97th percentile for his position.
“Just working on it,” Curry said of his mid-range efficiency. “Just working on it every day, continuing to find those positions where I can get my shots every night. Because I know, with my three-point reputation and the way I shoot the ball, teams aren’t just going to let me catch and shoot all game and do that over and over and over again. I’ve gotta find different ways to be effective on the offensive end.
“When I put the ball on the floor a couple times and either get to the hole or shoot the mid-range, that allows my three-point shot to open up and for me to get better looks from behind the arc. I’ve gotta be effective at all areas, especially at my size, because I can’t always get to the rim to finish.”
Curry likely won’t come close to replacing Josh Richardson’s defensive impact. If he resembles his pre-Philadelphia self offensively, though, there’s a good chance the Sixers will be pleased.
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