Stephen Curry has become one of the most popular players in the NBA to watch.
He’s already a historically great shooter, and his unique combination of ball-handling and unlimited range makes him a nightmare for opponents, but a delight to watch.
In a post for The Player’s Tribune, Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas analysed the best ball-handlers in the NBA, describing both what makes them so fun to watch, but difficult to guard.
Curry, of course, made the list, and hearing his game described from an opponent’s perspective is pretty interesting.
“With Steph, you’re always guessing. That’s what makes him so dangerous,” Thomas began.
Thomas explained that Curry is such a dangerous shooter, that he can do whatever he wants to opponents. Step up to deny his three-pointer, and he’ll go past you; give him space and he’ll shoot in your face. Thomas also made an interesting comparison, noting Curry is like a wide receiver running the option and deciding in the moment what he’ll do:
“Steph plays like he’s a wide receiver in football running an option route on every play. Everything he does depends on what the defender is doing. So when he’s coming at you, if you’re afraid of the three — which you should be — and you give him too much space, he’ll knock it down. If you play too far up on the three, he’ll take you off the dribble. If he beats you on the first step because you were playing too far up, say goodbye. He’s already gone. If you sink back with him, he has the shiftiness and the quick release to step back and shoot.”
“I don’t think he ever goes down the court thinking ‘I’m pulling up’ or ‘I’m taking it to the basket.’ He reads the court so well that he doesn’t need a plan. He can just rely on his instincts and react to the defence, and he can do it all, so he takes whatever you give him.”
Thomas added, “And the worst part is that he’s such a good passer, nobody’s leaving their man to step up and help. You’re on your own.”
Curry’s famous play (which Thomas cited) where he slithered through three Clippers defenders and made a ridiculous step-back three shows Curry’s on-the-fly potency with the ball:
Other times, Curry is much more subtle, which perhaps best illustrates Thomas’ point. On this game-winning three-pointer, all Curry does is hit the Magic defender with an in-and-out dribble, and the defender bites. He’s anticipating a drive or pull-up three so much that any move Curry did was going to fool him:
If this summer is any indication, Curry looks like he’s trying to add new tricks to his bag.
While he’s already the focus of every team’s defence, Curry is as close to unguardable as perhaps any player has ever been.
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