Call-Up Breakdown: Seth Curry to the Memphis Grizzlies

Think of a Curry and an image of a 6-2 to 6-4 guard with a sweet stroke immediately comes to mind. In that sense, Seth Curry fits right into the family tree alongside superstar brother Steph, both in the mold of their father Dell, a longtime Charlotte Hornet. Yet that’s what makes Seth’s 12-game NBA D-League education interesting: As much as we remember him at Duke as another long-range sniper, he actually struggled in that area during his stint with the Santa Cruz Warriors (see his shot chart below). It’s the rest of his game that earned him a GATORADE Call-Up before the New Year.

See the official release on the Memphis Grizzlies signing of Curry

That’s not to say that the Grizzlies are eyeing Curry as a pure point guard; shooting is still his one elite NBA skill. But for a young guard who played primarily off the ball in college, Curry showed that his point-guard skills were farther along than expected. Consider this: His career-high single-game assist total at Duke was eight -- roughly his average (7.8) during his month with Santa Cruz, as he matched or surpassed that career collegiate mark seven times. His 2.26 assist-to-turnover ratio placed him seventh among full-time NBA D-League starters.

While Steph has set the bar unreachably high, his evolution from a come-off-screens, catch-and-shoot guard to supreme distributor could serve as a model for Seth, and perhaps give the Grizzlies confidence that his minor-league development is no fluke. (Remember: many doubted that Steph had the makings of a point guard when he entered the NBA.) His transition to the Grizzlies will involve some major adjustments, however. Memphis, the slowest-paced team in the NBA, averages 11 fewer possessions per 48 minutes than Santa Cruz. The proverbial keys to the offense will almost assuredly be taken away, as well -- Curry’s usage rate (25.6%) ranked seventh among NBA D-League prospects, and 69% of his baskets were unassisted.

The pairing makes the most sense in the shooting department: Curry has made 25 threes in 12 games this season; the entire Grizzlies team has made 61 in their past 12 games. The Grit-and-Grinders rank second-to-last in three-pointers made per game (4.9), last in three-point attempts per game (14.1) and 19th in percentage (34.9); Curry’s personal 33.8% shooting should rise toward his college level (39.4) with the benefit of drawing less defensive attention. At the least, Memphis has found itself the floor spacer that it desperately needs. Curry family history suggests Seth has a chance to be more.


Highlights from Curry’s sensational NBA D-League debut, in which he broke the Santa Cruz single-game scoring record with 36 points:

Highlights from Curry’s 27-point, seven-assist performance last week in his final win with the Warriors: