In 2009, Steph Curry was a rookie. He started 77 games, averaged 17.5 points, 5.9 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.9 steals, and shot 43.7 percent from three-point range. That’s a pretty darn good rookie season, especially for a player whom many considered too small and too slender to be successful in the NBA.
Kelenna Azubuike wasn’t surprised in the least.
“Well, when he first came in, I could kind of tell he was going to be a superstar because of his work ethic and his mentality and his approach to the game,” the CSN Bay Area analyst said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “So basically as a rookie, he knew what he did in college and he was trying to figure out (if he could do the same thing in the NBA) with bigger, faster and stronger people.”
He could. Curry could dribble on just about anyone and shoot on just about anyone. That was clear then, and it’s definitely clear now.
“As the years go on, you see him doing stuff more and his confidence is kind of growing,” Azubuike said. “Everything he’s trying is working. If he feels like he has a weakness, he’d go back to the gym and work at it. People underestimate how much of Steph’s game and what he’s doing now is the result and the product of the work he’s put in to get better in certain areas, to get better at his finishing. He’s got all his shots when he gets in the paint – the floaters, the finger roll. He’s got a natural talent for it. Him and Kyrie Irving, I think, are the two best finishing point guards in the league as far as when they get to the basket, being able to put the right spin on the ball from different angles. They have a talent for it.
“I think one of the biggest things that makes Steph Curry so great is his audacity, his boldness to actually do things in games,” Azubuike continued. “A lot of guys will work on things in practice. It’s one thing to work on it in practice and it’s another to come out and do it in the game, especially when what you’re working on in practice is 30 footers off the dribble. Maybe some other people work on similar stuff in practice, but they don’t have the guts to actually do it in the game over seven-footers. When most guys would think it’s a ridiculous shot, Steph Curry has no conscience and he’ll go and do it in the game. I think he’s done it a lot now so he’s kind of used to do it. But to get to that point where that’s just normal for you is remarkable. It seems like he’s super human, but he’s worked on this in practice and he has the boldness and supreme confidence in himself to do it in games.”
Curry, the two-time reigning MVP, came alive in the final three games of the Western Conference Finals. After shooting 5-of-21 (23.8 percent) from three in Games 3 and 4, Curry shot 16-of-34 (47.1 percent) from three in Games 5 through 7.
If Curry shoots that well in the Finals, the Cavs are in trouble.
“I think the Warriors will win in six or seven games,” Azubuike said. “LeBron will take over maybe a game or two, and Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, they’re capable of having huge games, so they’ll win a couple. But I think the Warriors win in six or seven games.”