Seth Curry saw his first non-garbage time extended minutes of the season in Monday nights win over the Dallas Mavericks, and without giving him too much credit for an 8 point, 1 assist, 1 rebound performance, he changed the energy level of the Sacramento Kings with his play, and it’s put George Karl in an interesting spot.
Have we reached a "you’ve got to find minutes for Seth Curry" conundrum yet, or is it still too soon for that statement? I’d argue we have, but I’m impatient. I see the season heading in a direction none of us want, and it’d be naïve of anyone to think Seth Curry is the answer, or even a answer, but I’m more than willing to give him an extended opportunity. I’ve seen enough to the point where he’s got my attention. I’m intrigued. I’m ready for more.
Seth Curry is an excellent shooter. He’s shooting 75% (9-12) from three this season, which is both unbelievable and unsustainable, but we know he’s a shooter, teams know he’s a shooter, and that draws a certain amount of attention from opposing defenses. You could say the same thing about Marco Belinelli, only Belinelli hasn’t shot the ball well this season, and his shot selection has been frustrating. Ben McLemore has shot the ball better than Belinelli, but neither Belinelli nor McLemore has played up to a level where I’d say Curry doesn’t also (potentially) belong in that group.
The one thing Curry has done better than McLemore and Belinelli, and you can almost count this by default because of the position all three players are in, is play with urgency. Curry is literally playing for his opportunity, and its so evident that it actually makes McLemore and Belinelli look worse by comparison. I’m not trying to hammer against those guys; it’s just the nature of how someone plays when they are in the regular rotation versus how someone plays when they aren’t.
A quick digression –
I’ve been a supporter of certain ‘out of the rotation’ Kings of years past. Donte Greene is a good example of someone who didn’t do what Seth Curry is doing. I really liked Donte Greene for longer than I should have. He was so big and athletic for his position, he had a jump shot that I kept waiting to materialize in the NBA, and he was a better defender than he was given credit for. I would often complain that he wasn’t getting any playing time (considering who the Kings were playing over him, I still think I had a case) but what drove me crazy about Greene was that when those garbage time opportunities to show something, anything, came up, he just didn’t play hard. He treated the game like 10 year veterans did at that point. He was just out there to run out the clock.
That one specific consistent event didn’t mean Donte Greene was doomed, just like Seth Curry’s impressive garbage time play doesn’t mean he’s an NBA player, but from a character and work ethic stand point, I have been impressed with how Curry has played in his extremely limited minutes. It’s not hard-hitting analysis, or any sort of worthwhile statistic, it’s just anecdotal evidence that he is playing with urgency. This is one of his last opportunities to become an NBA player, and he’s making the most of it. I really respect that.
Fellow Kings guard Darren Collison said something similar in an excellent James Ham column from yesterday -
"It’s extremely hard," Collison said of Curry. "I don’t know how he does it. I don’t know how he sits almost the whole game and comes in and just starts hitting threes." -Darren Collison, via James Ham
That sort of urgency is also evident defensively. I’m not going to try and convince you that Seth Curry is a good defender. In fact, I have no idea what kind of NBA defender he is. My initial thought would be ‘not good’ based on scouting reports and what others who have watched him throughout his college and D-League career have suggested, but how Curry defended on Monday night against the Mavericks certainly supports the notion that defensive competence has more to do with effort than anything else. I dare say he was not only competent, but almost good on that end, and without-a-doubt better than most of the Kings’ perimeter defenders have played this season.
Do I think that part of Curry’s game is sustainable? I don’t have a clue, but it was there Monday night, and his effort was so noticeable and jarring to watch that it immediately caught my attention. It’s something we’re going to have to monitor.
So, that begs the question, what does George Karl do from here?
You could say that Curry is in the rotation based on the 20 minutes he played on Monday, which was more than either Ben McLemore or Marco Belinelli played that night, but it’s hard to say. After the game, George Karl said that Belinelli was under the weather, so it’s impossible to determine how much of Curry’s playing time was a result of Belinelli’s health, earned opportunity, or a mixture of both.
I don’t know how long Karl can get away with playing McLemore, Belinelli, and Curry 10+ minutes per night, but I don’t mind Karl going that route for the time being, allowing whichever guard has ‘it’ on that particular night most of the playing time until someone separates themselves from the pack. Right now, all of those guys are extremely close in talent and production, and you could probably make an argument for any one of them in any role, but Curry has worked himself into the mix, and that is a noteworthy development.