Kings backup guard Seth Curry quickly became a fan favorite because of his shooting ability. His defense? Not so much. After all, he is a Curry, which means he was born to shoot from the perimeter.
Shooting, however, hasn’t gotten Curry much playing time. His defense will be his path to more playing time, which could come Saturday night against his brother, Stephen Curry, the league’s reigning MVP of the NBA champion Golden State Warriors.
Lately, Kings coach George Karl has touted his Curry’s defense. It’s why Curry played a season-high 36 minutes Tuesday at Dallas and why he might continue to see more playing time.
Karl’s priority remains to get his regulars to play better defense, and Curry is trying to make a case that he can impact the game without scoring. If successful, Curry should catch the attention of the coaching staff, which is searching for someone on the perimeter willing to impede the opposing ballhandler.
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The 6-foot-2 Curry said he’s always had quick hands and tries to use his smarts when he’s at a size disadvantage.
“I could play two minutes, or I could play 20-something minutes,” Curry said. “But I’ve got to be ready for any situation. It’s hard to get my rhythm offensively, but defensively you don’t need a rhythm. You’ve just got to go out there, bring energy, and you’ll be good defensively most of the nights.”
The Kings have been woeful with their on-ball defense at times this season, and Karl wants anyone willing to accept the challenge to step up. It’s not as if Karl is touting Curry as his new Gary Payton. Even the coach admitted Curry had some rough moments Thursday against the Los Angeles Lakers.
“Seth is a guy that – I didn’t think I’d be saying (this) a month ago – is our best defensive player,” Karl said. “But I give him credit that in the Dallas game he stayed on the court because he was the one guy who could control the ball. And (Thursday) night, even though I don’t think he had a good defensive game, he was probably the best guy in there for us. He got burned a little bit in the fourth quarter, too.”
Point guard Rajon Rondo made a big defensive play late to help beat the Lakers. But many nights, Rondo, Ben McLemore, Marco Belinelli and Darren Collison have had their issues containing opposing guards.
Led by their young backcourt, the Lakers were able to get plenty of good looks – making 11 of 19 field-goal attempts (57.9 percent) – in the fourth quarter.
“The game is guard-oriented right now, and the vast majority of teams we play, it’s about stopping the ball, controlling the ball, making the (pponents handling the) ball be less efficient,” Karl said. “Right now, I think we’re trying to outscore people way, way too much.”
Curry can score, averaging 42.3 percent from three-point range. But if he wants regular minutes, he realizes it will only happen by making an impact on defense.
“I think early in the regular season, I saw when I got on the court, I wasn’t touching the ball a lot,” Curry said. “I had to figure out how I was going to make an impact when I wasn’t playing point and bringing the ball up the court.”
Stopping the ball, instead of shooting it, is a good place to start.