Draft notes: Curry ready to lead
Stephen Curry has preference to play for Bobcats, Wizards, Kings or Knicks
College vets Sam Young, Taj Gibson may fall in draft because of lack of upside
Stephen Curry says he is ready for the transition. The instant-offense machine from Davidson with the quick release, experience and maturity has been working to convince NBA teams that he is capable of being a point guard who gets others involved rather than merely a scoring star. Only the entire lottery depends on the outcome, with Curry a possibility as soon as No. 3 to the Thunder, a lineup able to absorb a 6-foot-3 combo guard as a defensive liability because the primary point, Russell Westbrook, is heading for years as a candidate for the All-Defensive team.
Curry already stated a preference for the Bobcats (hometown team), Wizards (he has worked out a lot in Washington in preparation for the draft), and Kings and Knicks (style of play, immediate roster opportunities). Wherever he goes -- the Wizards appear out of the mix now after agreeing to trade the No. 5 pick to Minnesota -- there will be a running analysis on whether a player who spent his college career as the clear No. 1 option can bridge the success when he is also counted on to be a distributor. It's not just the position labeling, either: Curry was the point guard at Davidson in 2008-09, but also averaged about nine more shots a game than any teammate.
"There are a lot of critics out there that are going to say I only can score. 'What's he going to do if doesn't get as many shots as he did in college?' and things like that," Curry said Sunday after a workout in Sacramento. But for the guys who scouted me all year, they know that I can do both [guard positions]. ... I really think I can translate that into being a playmaker on the next level."
Curry has studied the best of the point guards even though he hasn't patterned his game after any of them.
"I'm a fan of the NBA, and depending on what game it is, I'll watch a player like, for instance, Chauncey Billups," Curry said. "I'll watch him possession after possession. I won't follow the ball. I just watch him and what he does. And the next day I'll watch Chris Paul and how he uses ball screens. Or Steve Nash, how he runs the break. So it's not one guy I follow. I watch the game and I try to learn from every game I watch. ... It's learning the details and little things of how they see the floor and where they are and how they position themselves and why they're such good players."
It's no certainty that the Kings will take Ricky Rubio at No. 4 on Thursday even if Rubio lasts that long. Point guard is an obvious need, and many teams have the 18-year-old from Spain as the top prospect at the position and the second-best overall after Clippers-bound power forward Blake Griffin, but Sacramento is giving serious looks to Jrue Holiday, Jonny Flynn and Tyreke Evans. It's a talent thing as well as the uncertainty of Rubio's legal web to renegotiate the buyout of his Spanish contract. Rubio had a solo workout with the Kings on Monday, but unlike most every other session with prospects, the media were prohibited from any glimpse at the light drills, per instructions from agent Dan Fegan.
Fate smiled on Jeff Teague. He was scheduled to be the shooting guard at Wake Forest and only took over the point because incumbent Ishmael Smith broke his foot in September and could not practice until November. It became the opening for Teague to turn into a national star -- and, in the real draft impact, it enabled him to gain important experience at point guard. At 6-1, the position change was his only way to make it in the NBA. The unexpected turn of events ensured he would log major minutes there before heading to the pros.
Sam Young may be about to pay for being experienced. The Pittsburgh small forward is athletic and aggressive and made noticeable improvements in college, but he's also 24. As much as teams might appreciate the maturity level, they also want someone with more years to develop and stick, especially if they spend a first-round pick to get him. The same goes for USC's Taj Gibson (who turns 24 the day before the draft), although Gibson has the additional burden of being a 214-pound power forward. Young is expected to go in the second half of the first round or early in the second, Gibson late in the first to midway through the second.
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