Dallas Mavericks guard Seth Curry went off against the Lakers – a sign of more to come?
The NBA is back! Well, in some capacity. This week, scrimmages have been taking place with teams currently in the Orlando bubble. Dallas played the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday and came out victorious in a 108-104 effort that saw shooting guard Seth Curry score 23 points and center Boban Marjanovic score 17 points and grab 13 rebounds.
However, Curry’s performance was noteworthy. Even though the guard started, he only played for 15 minutes. However, that didn’t stop him from going a perfect 6-6 from behind the 3 point line scoring three in the first quarter. Already one of the league’s best shooters, Curry shooting his way to perfection was a pleasant surprise; it is also a surprise that could bode well for the team.
The NBA has undergone a paradigm shift involving floor spacing, hence it’s no surprise to see the teams with the highest offensive ratings have the most efficient three-point shooting in the league. Three-point shooting has also propelled teams to deep playoff runs; last year the Portland Trailblazers found themselves in the Western Conference Finals before meeting their eventual demise to the Golden State Warriors.
One member of that Portland team was Seth Curry himself. In the 2018-2019 regular season, he played 74 games helping the team to 49 wins. In Curry’s final eleven games of that regular season, the Trailblazers were 10-1. Of those eleven games, Curry scored in the single digits just once. (It was a game the team won by 27 points)
Unfortunately, while the team showed the ability to win some games in the playoffs, Curry played quite inconsistently throughout the playoffs. With his minutes ranging from 14 to 30, his point totals could end up in double digits or end with a big doughnut. However, this was as a reserve guard with a team that was loaded in the backcourt.
Now the situation has changed quite drastically. With the injury to Dwight Powell, the Mavericks have elected to fill his position in the starting lineup based on the opposition. That meant Curry would find himself on the starting lineup with spot-up shooters in Tim Hardaway Jr and Dorian Finney-Smith.
Even if he doesn’t start, Curry projects to play significant minutes on a nightly basis for the team as they have to cope with the losses of Jalen Brunson and Courtney Lee, one more significant than the other. This should yield positive results for the team if the regular season is any indication.
Of the 59 games Curry played in, he started in 20 of them. When he started, he averaged 12.8 points per game in 26.3 minutes shooting 52 percent from the field and 44.7 percent from the three-point line. Those numbers, however, are not different from the 39 games he didn’t start as he averaged 12.3 points per game in 23.7 minutes shooting 49 percent from the field and 45.7 percent from behind the three-point line.
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While the numbers didn’t drastically change depending on his role, there was a significant difference looking at how much he played. In 33 games (starting twelve) during the regular season, Curry played 20-29 minutes. In those games, the combo guard averaged 13.1 points per game in 24.9 minutes shooting 46 percent from the field and 40 percent from the three-point line. Those numbers are fantastic, but it gets better!
In eleven games (starting five) during the regular season, Curry played 30-39 minutes. In those games, he averaged 20.5 points per game in 34.4 minutes. It is fair to assume that more playing time means more volume shooting, but it seems Curry was more efficient when he played more. Like A LOT more efficient.
In these eleven games, the combo guard converted 62 percent of his field-goal attempts and 67.6 percent of his three-point attempts. It is common to see basketball players shoot more when they have more playing time, however, it isn’t common to see them shoot more efficiently, especially at the rate of Curry.
This brings us back to Thursday night’s scrimmage. Curry absolutely exploded while playing 15 minutes, about nine minutes fewer than he usually garners. This four-month break has given these athletes the ability to heal from any lingering injuries they had during the season, meaning we should get close to the best version of each athlete come to the playoffs.
There is a good chance, Curry will have to play more minutes for the team considering the nature of the depth, however, he has shown that he can play better when he gets more playing time, but more importantly, when the lights are the brightest. This will be an important development to track as this is the first trip to the playoffs for most members of the team.