Stephen Curry was born to play in the NBA. Despite coming from a non-power conference college, Davidson, Curry has had immense success as one of the most prolific shooters in the NBA. Under the stewardship of Mark Jackson, Curry has proven he can be an unwavering leader on the court while being an exemplary human being off the court.
Simply put, Stephen Curry has all the innate components and instinctual drive to become one of the most beloved sports icons of all time.
While such a declaration may seem outlandish and even disrespectful towards the legendary players who came before him, Curry isn’t trying to be the next Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant. Rather, Curry is trying to pave the way for his own successful legacy by being an individual who can excel at his craft without succumbing to the inevitable spotlight that can easily capitulate the ego of most superstars into the stratosphere. He doesn’t need to ingratiate himself with a lavish lifestyle that is tantamount to what a talented athlete would seemingly deserve. Instead of all that, Curry does one thing that matters more than these extravagant aesthetics: he plays basketball.
Although the Golden State Warriors hardly garnered any type of notoriety when they drafted Curry in 2009, it didn’t make a difference to them. When the Warriors brought Curry into their struggling franchise they decided that their days of irrelevancy and expected mediocrity were over. On that day, the Warriors were committed to becoming an organization that could not only adequately compete in the Wild West but also one that could compete for a national title in the subsequent future.
Sure enough, as soon as Curry stepped onto the court it became abundantly clear that the Warriors had finally found a young talent that could handle the lofty expectations and pressures that come with being a first round draft pick. No matter how dire the circumstances were or how many minutes this treasured rookie played, his drive and determination never wavered.
In his first season with the Warriors, Curry started in 77 games and averaged over 17.5 points per game. While these initial numbers were admirable for a newly integrated player, it wasn’t nearly the most impressing aspect of Curry’s game. The most intriguing aspect of how Curry performed was his ability to nail perimeter shots with relative ease. In his rookie year Curry was already shooting 43.7% from beyond the arc, something that was simply unheard of from a first year athlete.
However, even with Curry playing at an unbelievably high level, the Warriors couldn’t muster enough consistency to be a prominent force in the western conference. In 2009, the Warriors ended the regular season with an abysmal 26-56 record. While Golden State was able to improve on this glaring atrocity by finishing only ten games below .500 the following year, it still wasn’t enough for this organization that didn’t want to wait to be competitive. They wanted to dominate now and in order to accomplish this desired goal they needed to find a supporting cast that could play with Curry while also acquiring a head coach that could properly motivate this young crew to play dynamically game in and game out.
That’s when Mark Jackson, a respected and inspirational NBA player in his own right, took over the reigns as being the Warriors head coach. For Stephen Curry and company, this was a match made in heaven.
In his first year, Mark Jackson came in with a singular mentality; we can win every game. While the Warriors didn’t have tremendous success as a team initially, Curry stepped his game up and flourished under the leadership of Jackson. Not only did Curry’s field goal percentage improve from 48% to 49%, even his bread and butter three-point shot improved from 44.2% to 45.5%.
Once Curry had made his individual improvements under Jackson’s tutelage, it was time to integrate the final phase of the Warriors master plan for success; combine Curry’s undeniable talents with the rest of the team.
No longer was Curry the only high-octane shooter on the team. Klay Thompson, a young shooting guard from Washington State, proved that he could be Curry’s go to right hand man who could put up consistently inspiring numbers himself. Although not as accurate as Curry from the perimeter (40.1% as opposed to Curry’s 45.3%), he still was able to manage 16.6 points per game while hitting the clutch shots when they mattered most. Between this dynamic duo coupled with David Lee as an aggressive power forward (18.5 PPG, .519 FG%) and Jarrett Jack as a reliable secondary point guard, the Warriors had transformed from a one man show into a team that was being lead by Curry rather than desperately relying on his abilities.
As a result of this collaboration, the Warriors were able to battle fiercely for a well deserved 5th seed in the western conference and fought valiantly to upset the Denver Nuggets in six games of the first round of the playoffs.
Whether or not this reinvigorated franchise can take down a respected veteran team such as the San Antonio Spurs still remains to be seen and will by no means be an easy task. However, no matter what happens to the Warriors during the rest of the post season one sentiment still remains certain; Stephen Curry and the Warriors are coming at full steam ahead and god help the team that has to contend with them next season.