Over the past two NBA seasons we have witnessed Steph Curry blossom into the best player in the world. His colle
ctive ability to shoot, dribble and pass is second to nobody and he has taken the entire league by storm in 2015-2016. Curry has become an internet sensation and has changed the way we view the NBA. But what kind of effect does he have on the game of basketball?
There is no doubt that Curry has helped the NBA’s publicity. I’m not much of an NBA fan myself, but if the Warriors are on TV you know damn well that I will sit at the edge of my seat and believe every shot that comes off his hand is hitting nothing but nylon. Two years ago I couldn’t get my dad (an old school basketball purist) to sit down and watch an NBA game without falling asleep, but now even he gets fascinated watching “Chef Curry” go to work.
But does the NBA getting more viewers necessarily mean the sport of basketball is benefiting?
I coach a fifth-grade basketball team, and before every practice we sit in a circle to talk about their day at school and what is going on in basketball. Almost every single time, the conversation goes back to what outrageous circus shot Curry hit the night before or how many threes he will drain tonight. All of this is well and good until I watch what they do when they shoot around in their free time.
The 10 minutes before and after practice usually consist of 30-foot heaves and foul line floaters. I can promise you this is not what fifth graders need to be working on but I don’t blame them for doing it. I remember trying to perfect my crossover to look like Allen Iverson and throw behind the back passes like Steve Nash. My point is that young players will always try to mimic what their idols do but when it comes to Curry, his shots are so difficult and so outrageous that kids don’t gain anything from trying to be like him.
With all that being said, I think the older groups of players are starting to benefit from Curry’s style of play. I see an increasing number of high school and college players spending more time on shooting and ball-handling rather than trying to dunk for hours at a time. There is a growing emphasis on skill development and less on athletic ability and I think a good portion of that should be credited to Curry’s outbreak.
To say Steph Curry has a negative effect on basketball would be preposterous. I’m not saying his step-back threes and skyscraping floaters don’t leave me speechless. What I’m saying is young players need to understand that Curry didn’t go into a gym at the age of 12 and start taking those shots. There were years of building and practicing that led to him being the best player in the NBA.
In a league that obsessed over LeBron James for about a decade, Curry is the breath of fresh air the NBA has needed. For years, LeBron’s thunderous dunks and emphatic chase-down blocks dominated highlight reels. There was something about us that adored this type of physical specimen leaping over and powering through defenders, but now we have fallen in love with an average sized, marginal athlete (by NBA standards) known to us simply as “Steph.”