1) Happy Birthday, Steph!
Just a quick shout out to fellow Pisces, Stephen Curry. I read this article from The Ringer recounting Steph’s leading his Davidson team to the Elite 8 in the 2008 tournament. I have watched these highlights over the years, and it still astounds me what kind of player Steph has become.
I wasn’t a big fan of his when he was in college. I thought he’d end up like Hersey Hawkins or Trajan Langdon (he may have become the latter if he went to Duke and didn’t have the freedom to do his thing like he did at Davidson), but once I saw him play a few games as a rookie, I realized what separated him was his handle and creativity.
Though he wasn’t as athletic as other players and prognosticators thought he wouldn’t be able to get by anyone in the pros, early on Steph used the threat of his shot to get a step on his defender. That’s something other highly touted college shooters couldn’t do at the NBA level. He would head fake on the bounce, get his guy to bite, then hustle right past him. The rest is history. We’ve seen Steph’s skill evolve to become lethal, and I’m glad he’s still in the middle of his prime.
Below are the highlights of his 40-point game against Wisconsin in the Sweet Sixteen. Go to the article for highlights of the other games:
2) Stephen Curry’s worrisome new shoes
I wrote how I thought Steph’s current shoes, the Curry 4s from Under Armour seemingly lacked thorough ankle support. Well, on his birthday they released the Curry 5s. I personally think they’re pretty ugly, but more importantly they seem to be 3/4-tops with even less ankle protection.
Judge for yourself:
See what I’m saying?
3) Thank goodness Andre Iguodala and Jordan Bell are back
With Klay and Draymond going out, it was huge to have Andre Iguodala and Jordan Bell in the lineup. It’s been well documented what Andre brings to the team in terms of being a floor leader and calming influence on his teammates. The team seems to stabilize more when he’s out there.
Bell’s athleticism and youthful energy were something sorely missed on this team. He makes the Warriors so much more dynamic around the rim and on the glass — in a way that no one else on the roster really can.
And I’ll be honest, when the second unit of Andre, Bell, Shaun Livingston, and Javale McGee joined Kevin Durant on the floor, I was like oh, maybe they’ll be all right tonight.
4) Jordan Bell’s free throw stroke bodes well
Bell doesn’t shoot much beyond opportune layups, dunks, and putbacks. And yes, he seems to be a little rushed when he gets the ball in the paint. We’ve seen the occasional pump fake and drive or up-and-under on the low block, but he definitely needs to add to his repertoire down there.
However, one thing I’ve found really, really encouraging is his smooth, consistent free throw stroke.
It’s a good shooting motion. There’s nothing awkward about it. There aren’t any weird hitches or pauses. He looks like a guy who is fully comfortable at the stripe. This means that he can develop nice mid-range elbow and baseline jumpers, then maybe — just maybe — in a couple seasons move further out to the occasional three.
He just needs to commit to the training and repetition.
5) My updated take on Lonzo Ball
Maybe I’m warming up to him because his dad, Lavar, has been thousands of miles away in Lithuania, but I actually like Lonzo’s game. I hate his shot, but he definitely has those intangibles that make you feel like he could do something interesting (thought not yet amazing) at any given moment to help his team win. His height along with NBA-level screens help him get his shot off, so even if he doesn’t change it, he’ll still be able to average 15 points or so next year.
He’s fortunate Kyle Kuzma has taken so much pressure off of him as a rookie. And having scorers such as Brandon Ingram and a rejuvenated Julius Randle helps immensely as well. If he came to a team that needed him to average 17-20 points right out of the gate, he’d be screwed.
Like really badly.