Sharpshooter using summer play to improve defense, playmaking
POSTED: Jul 13, 2015 10:12 PM ET
Pelicans vs. Mavericks
Seth Curry scores 25 points as the Pelicans defeat the Mavericks 90-86.
LAS VEGAS — The mechanics on his jumper are pretty and pure and quite familiar to anyone who followed the MVP of the NBA last season. And his last name -- Curry -- is on a singular basis in the basketball world, and there is no higher compliment than that.
Seth Curry does appear to have a few things in common with his famous older brother besides the blood in their veins. There is an obvious exception, of course. Stephen Curry has mushroomed into a hoops Goliath, an established star fresh off a dreamy season. Seth is still looking to cash a regular NBA paycheck.
He's one of the bigger curiosities at the NBA Summer League for those reasons alone. After two years of getting reps in the Development League along with a handful of call-ups to NBA rosters, Seth is using Vegas to audition for what he hopes will lead to his NBA breakthrough. It helps that his coach on the Pelicans is Alvin Gentry, an assistant with the Warriors, his brother's team, last season. And it's also good that Curry is the second-leading scorer in Vegas at 25 a game and sprucing up some of the flaws that kept him off an NBA roster in the past.
If nothing else, Curry will be in training camp this fall, and most likely in New Orleans' and not because his brother asked Gentry, his friend, for a solid. Not quite.
"We've exchanged a few smart-ass texts," said Gentry with a laugh. "Seriously, though, Steph just asked how his brother was doing and I didn't mention the scoring at all. I spoke about his defense and play-making and going to the basket. Those are the things that are important. That's what we want to see from Seth, and to his credit, Seth has put in the work to improve in those areas. When you see how much work he has put in, there's no question he can play in the NBA."
You ask Seth about the NBA and he's pretty direct: "I feel I am an NBA player." Clearly, the confidence and the swagger are there even if the NBA experience is not. His big-league burn amounts to 21 minutes on three teams, and those NBA teases are met with a shrug from him.
"I think I'll play this season, but I felt like that a couple of times in the past," he said. "I'm surprised it hasn't happened yet."
Steph and Seth grew up trying to out-swish each other in the family driveway, and these contests often included their father Dell Curry, whose own feathery shot once made him a valuable scorer off the bench for the Hornets. But a not-so-funny thing happened on the way to the NBA getting a sibling combination that would rival the Manning brothers and the Williams sisters: Steph improved like Google stock, while Seth took a more deliberate pace.
His role in college at Duke was more of a scorer, which Curry did well enough to become a three-year starter and second-team All-America, but he didn't play enough up-tempo basketball or sharpen his ball-handling. At 6-2, Curry needed a stronger dribble game to convince NBA people who saw him strictly as a point guard. That's why he went undrafted in 2013.
That fall, he was released by the Warriors. Later, a pair of 10-day contracts in Cleveland and Memphis weren't renewed, and those teams needed backcourt scorers. Curry made the most of being stuck in the D-League, averaging 22 points and five assists and rating as one of the top players in the league two years running.
He's a month shy of 25, and at that age, NBA chances begin to dwindle. In that sense, Curry is like most of the players gathered in Vegas. They all believe they're good enough for the league and just need a break and the right situation. And in some cases, they're right.
Curry's had summer league games of 30, 25 and 20 points so far. He had three steals Monday against the Nets and tossed a behind-the-back pass that was precise. He also played 34 minutes, evidence that Gentry is anxious to see more of Curry.
"He's a great shooter, got a good DNA in that area, but we wanted to see more. And he has done more," Gentry said.
Gentry isn't expecting Seth to be in his brother's area code and quite honestly, neither is Seth. Can there be a happy medium? Can Seth become a valuable reserve who can bring a scoring punch without costing a team defensively? That's what the Pelicans are trying to find out, and nobody is more anxious to learn than Seth.
"My brother is my biggest fan, just telling me to play loose and be myself," Seth said. "As long as I'm playing well and making my mark and making people notice me, I'll get my chance. All I can do is compete against guys who are already on NBA rosters and outplay them. Everybody says they like what I do as a player, but I guess you've got to be lucky and find the right place for you."
The time spent in the D-League has toughened him, and the short tastes of the NBA have humbled him. And yet, Seth gained his greatest motivation from sitting in the stands this spring and summer. There, he witnessed the finishing touches of his brother's storybook season as Steph and the Warriors ripped through the post-season and took out the Cavs in six for the title.
"When he had success, I feel like I had success, too," said Seth. "He definitely put in the work to become the player he is. We grew up and pushed each other, so I had a role in that. But I'm my own man, on my own path. I'm just sticking around and waiting for the opportunity."
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