Most NBA aficionados will credit the analytics movement with the increased 3-point attempts seen in the modern NBA, but real fans know that’s only part of the story, as without Stephen Curry the 3-point movement may never have gained speed the way it did.
“Steph Curry has changed the game so much that a lot of teams are shooting the ball really well. The Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, are shooting the ball really well. You’ve got a lot of teams, a lot of guys, are starting to practice on the 3-point shot, and the corner shot is still the deadliest. That’s why we try not to give up a lot of corner 3s, but we want to take a lot of corner 3s. The game has changed a lot,” Porter Jr. told the media earlier this week.
Curry and his Golden State teammates have often been cited as the leaders of the NBA’s small-ball movement, and for multiple seasons numerous teams around the league have tried to copy their style of play.
There’s no denying Curry’s presence has played an enormous part in the rise and rise of the 3-point shot across the league. Sure, the analytics and data movement played a part, but without Curry, that movement doesn’t have its “patient zero”.
Other teams opted to go a different route, looking to add size to their rosters, hoping to bully their way to an NBA championship.
But neither approach worked as well as how Kerr and the Golden State Warriors did it in a run to five straight Finals. Why? Because there’s only one Curry, and in a game that’s predicated on putting the ball in the hoop, having the greatest shooter of all-time on your roster trumps pretty much everything else.
It’s not only guards and wings who have been influenced by Curry’s game. As teams have begun to recognize the value of spacing and shooting gravity, they’ve become more demanding of their centers, requiring them to be proficient from above the break, too.
Not every big man adapted to this change in role, but the ones who did ended up carving out solid careers. Brook Lopez, Marc Gasol and Blake Griffin are centers who have redeveloped their games to move away from the basket and out to the 3-point line.
And, of course, there’s a new influx of talent each year via the draft, bringing players who grew up modeling their game after one of the greatest guards to play the game. It’s worth noting, though, that while Curry’s shooting gets most of the plaudits, he’s also a tireless workhorse when off the ball – constantly moving and cutting, dragging defenses out of place with every step he takes.
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So, while some highly technical shooters will both enter and reside within the league for a long time, each with their own segments of Curry’s game molded to their own, without his movement and swagger, it may be likely that no other player or team will impact the NBA and the game of basketball in the way Curry has over in his 13 seasons.