The Sacramento Kings on Wednesday inked free-agent guard Seth Curry to a reported two-year, $2 million contract.
Curry, younger brother to Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry, had the Las Vegas Summer League buzzing earlier this month, averaging 24.3 points 4.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 3.2 steals in 33.2 minutes per game in six games for the New Orleans Pelicans. But before that, the 6'2'', 185-pound Curry spent the 2014-15 season with the Orlando Magic's D-League affiliate, the Erie Bayhawks. While there, he was named to the 2014-15 NBA D-League First Team after averaging 23 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists and 1.4 steals in 37 minutes per game in 43 games.
Bayhawks head coach Bill Peterson joined Sactown Royalty to discuss Curry's development last season and how he stacks up as an NBA prospect.
This is a guy who spent quite a bit of time under you last season. What went through your mind when you heard the news that the Kings had signed him?
I was really excited for him and he deserves the opportunity. He's definitely an NBA player. He has a unique set of skills and he can really score the basketball in a lot of different ways and a lot of different situations.
He has a reputation as a shooter, but you mentioned he is versatile. So what would you say are his other attributes?
Obviously, he can shoot the ball, but he's also a very good passer. Very good finding the open man and has a very high basketball IQ. And he's very good in clutch situations. He's one of those guys that just has it. I think he made three or four game-winners for us this past year in Eerie. And I told one of the scouts that called me on the phone about him the other day, he's one of those rare guys, he can be terrible for three quarters and just not playing very good, not making a lot of shots, and something comes alive in the fourth quarter, which not many guys can do that. He can make a bunch of shots and make the game-winner.
He came over from the Santa Cruz Warriors, how would you say he grew as a player while he was with you guys?
He was better defensively, he was more in tune to what we were trying to do defensively and he grew doing it. He was better in pick-and-roll defense, he was a little more physical and he got better at using his athletic abilities, or his skills, his knowledge of the game and understanding to create steals for himself or other people, or get deflections. Because he understands the game so well he kind of knows what's going to happen sometimes. He's able to anticipate and create opportunities for early offense ... the other thing I think he really improved in was he seemed to be more comfortable when he had to be on the ball or off the ball, he got very comfortable playing either one for me.
You mentioned his defense, and a knock on him is the question of whether he can stay in front of NBA players. You said he is an NBA player. Based on what you saw out of him, do you think he can play defense in the NBA?
I think he can stay in front of a guy. He's not going to be a stopper, he's not going to be a tremendous lockdown defender, but there's a lot of guys in the NBA who aren't tremendous defenders. It takes all kinds of guys to build a team. I think his role can be an off-the-bench guy who can come in and get you buckets and get them quickly in different ways.
His performance in Summer League perked up everyone's ears. Were you surprised by what he did out there?
No, none whatsoever. I saw it all year. Obviously, he was First Team All D-League, he made three or four game winners throughout the year, we beat Maine, who was one of the best teams in the league at our place one night. I think the game was tied up with two or three seconds to go and we drew an out-of-bounds play up and everybody in the building knew we were running Seth off a couple screens ... Maine defended it great, he shot-faked the first guy, got under the second guy and made about a 15-foot floater at the buzzer to win the game.
I saw him do it time and again throughout the year, he has that special ability to score the basketball in a lot of different ways. He didn't even shoot the ball well from the three-point line in Vegas and he shot 44, 45 percent for me throughout the year so I know he can shoot the three, that's a given, but he's starting to figure out other ways to score ... he has that real high floater just like his brother does where he kisses it off the glass.
The Kings have Rajon Rondo and Darren Collison. Seth has a chance to be a key third guard and if one of those other guys gets hurt he could get extended minutes. George Karl wants to play fast, he's a coach who doesn't want to call a lot of plays and he allows his players to make decisions on the floor. Do you think Seth will be good in that type of system?
Yes, to play fast like that and get up and down the floor will be a good situation for him. I think once he starts playing and coach Karl maybe sees what he has and gets around him through training camp and exhibition season and one of those guys goes down; Seth is a guy you can throw in the game and he can go off and get 8, 10, 12, points in no time. He can get a steal and make a layup, then come down and bust two threes and another jumper off a screen and roll ... the faster the pace like that, obviously, it will be harder to find him on the floor because things won't be as jammed and he can really stretch the defense. He's a good passer and can feed the post. I could see him feeding the ball into DeMarcus Cousins and instead of running him through just stand out there in the corner, or stand on the wing and if they double DeMarcus he pitches it back out and Seth will drain the three … he also understands the game really well, so he'll be able to make decisions at a fast pace.
How would you grade his court vision?
Excellent. We played a game earlier in the year, I think it was against Westchester, and we needed a really big basket and everyone knew it was going to him. We ran him off kind of a curl action and he came off and a guy was trailing him, a big came over on him and another big came up to block his shot and he flipped it behind his head to the big kid we had standing on the corner, just behind his head. It was like everybody else was in slow motion ... it was a really great basketball play ... he has a very good understanding of where the ball should go and how to get it there.
What are some things you think he probably has to work on?
He's got to get a little stronger so when he has to guard bigger guards they don't take him in there and post him up. He's got to work a little more on his defense pick and roll. He's got to do a little better job fighting over the top and using his length. He has good anticipation skills and we used to talk a lot about when we played our defense a certain way we'd force the pick and roll on the side to the baseline, that he needed to be more active with his hands because he has long arms and he's a little bigger than you think he is and he anticipates really well ... he's got to be more intense doing that.
What about him as a person? It seems like he and his brother are really close and supportive of each other. What kind of a guy is he in the locker room and around his teammates?
He's very quiet. Doesn't say much. On a team you talk about you have to worry about a guy doing this and that guy; for me he was no maintenance. He was always on time, very respectful of the coaches. He knows the scouting reports. He's a pro. Obviously, being around his brother and I'm sure that has something to do with it. I know he's very close to his brother ... and that could do nothing but help because his brother is where he'd like to be.
What is similar and what is different about him and Steph? Obviously, where they are at in their careers is pretty different, but what about their individual games?
I think they both have the same kind of ability to score the ball. I think both of them are very, very confident in their abilities. I do think a little bit too, both of them were second-guessed. I know when Steph was first in the league a lot of people said, ‘oh, he's too small, he's not quick enough, he doesn't do this well enough, he doesn't do that well enough.' He overcame all those odds, just like Seth is going to have the opportunity to do that too. I'd say his brother probably is a little bit more outspoken than he is. Seth was always very quiet ... he's not a loud guy.
Does that personality translate onto the floor? Is he a little passive?
Yeah, he's a little bit like that on the floor and I think that's probably hurt him some. People look at him and go, you know, 'he doesn't ever get excited.' But I always tell people, I'm looking for results, I don't need a guy out there cheerleading. I need a guy that can get it done, that can put the ball in the basket, can make the right play when the pressure is on. And I think because his demeanor is like that, he's really good in pressure situations.
So you have seen his development firsthand, in your opinion why do you think he hasn't been able to break through yet to become a player on an NBA team?
I think it is just a matter of opportunity. Some guys it just takes longer than other guys and sometimes people aren't sold on guys totally. I think there's a lot of guys if they just got an opportunity and got the reps they could do certain things on teams. I used to talk to Seth a lot about a guy in San Antonio, Danny Green. Danny Green was cut from different teams, he bounced around the D-League for a number of years ... and all the sudden he latches on in San Antonio. He got cut from San Antonio, then he came back and I guess they thought he got a little better and maybe a little quicker, understood what was asked of him a little better and all the sudden he starts getting that opportunity and starts making big shots. One thing goes to another and this year he gets a huge deal with the Spurs and he's won a world championship and everything. I used to tell Seth the same thing, he just needed an opportunity and now he's got one.