Stephen Curry is the undisputed greatest shooter of all time. He’s also an elite ball handler and high-level passer, while tireless work in the weight room and on the practice floor has helped him become an adept finisher late in his career. Once an imminently targetable defender, the Golden State Warriors superstar has taken major strides on that side of the ball in recent years, too.
But not all the strengths of Curry’s unique game get the praise they deserve. As Hall-of-Famer Gail Goodrich sees it, his ability to move without the ball warrants much more attention.
“You know, one of the best players going without the basketball, that no one talks about, is Steph Curry. You watch him when he doesn’t have the basketball and he starts running off screens, you know, with speed to get open and get in a position where he could get the ball,” he said on Hoop Du Jour with Peter Vecsey.
Goodrich would know. The shooting guard averaged 22.0 points per game a whopping five times in his storied career, helping the Los Angeles Lakers to a title in 1972 and earning five All-Star appearances.
Not that Goodrich’s take requires his Hall-of-Fame credentials to pass muster, of course. The very fabric of the Warriors’ offensive identity since the beginning of their ongoing dynasty has been Curry stoking constant fear in the hearts and minds of defenses when he doesn’t have the ball, sparking opportunities that make the much, much easier for his teammates
Golden State finishing a league-high 10.0% of its possessions off cuts is clear evidence of that reality, and so is the team’s top-ranked 68.9% rate of assisted baskets. The Warriors have been top-five in both categories dating back to 2015-16, per NBA.com/stats.
The eye test works just as well to confirm Goodrich’s assessment. Curry is the only player in basketball who truly never stops moving away from the ball, always searching for ways to leverage the unsurpassed threat his jumper creates.
Whether Steph Curry’s ability to move without the ball gets is proper due is another story altogether, though. That singular trait is indeed easily and regularly missed in discussions about Curry’s legacy, not to mention its utmost significance to the Warriors.
Kudos to Goodrich for drawing further attention it.