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DaveO

Stephen Curry (1988-), Deadeye Point Guard for the Golden State Warriors (2009-) and 2014-2015 NBA MVP

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Stephen Curry:  His unique version:  Float Like a Butterfly Sting Like a Bee

Stephen Curry has surprisingly risen to the very upper echelon's of professional basketball.  Last year he led his team, the Golden State Warriors to a tremendous regular season record and an NBA championship.  He was the league MVP.  His play epitomizes the changing nature of the pro game of basketball-> more outside in than inside out.

His ascendancy is surprising.  While he was a relatively high draft choice, he had been a very slight shooting guard from a small school.  He only played point guard in his last year of college so he was not an accomplished ball handler.  His father, though, was a noted NBA sharpshooter before him.

Curry's improvement is spectacular.  He is clearly one of the premier, most important, most valuable players in professional basketball at the moment.

With all that Curry is extraordinarily fun to watch.  He really seems to float, not run.  Its as if his feet and coordinated  extraordinary ball control are moving in a different dimension but all in sync and only he knows where he and the ball are going.  On top of that he has the deadliest outside shot, with a quick release.  He is dangerous.

And to top it off, he is a "dancing celebrating athlete in his prime".   Watch him play and dance.   Entirely different but reminiscent of Mohammed Ali in his fighting, floating, stinging prime.

"Best of Steph Curry's Incredible Start" on espn.go.com

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Right now Stephen Curry is  providing viewers with one of the more transcendent sports experiences of recent times.  He is playing better than he did last season when he was NBA MVP and led his team, the Golden State Warriors to the NBA championship, with truly one of the more dominant seasons in NBA history, both regular season and playoffs.

Derrick Rose, a recent NBA MVP and when healthy and extraordinarily talented point guard said this:

On Friday, Rose did what many are doing these days, marveling at the exploits of Curry, whose 34.2 points-per-game average led runner-up James Harden by a whopping 5.4 points.

"He's amazing, man," Rose said. "He's playing great basketball. If anything, he pushes not only me but the whole league to work on their game (with) the way he has been working, the way he has focused and how consistent he has been playing."


Read more here:  "Derrick Rose Says Stephen Curry 'Pushes the Whole League to Work on Their Game'" on slamonline.com

and Steve Nash, a former 2 time NBA MVP, and someone slated to go into the Hall of Fame as one of the greatest gaurds ever responded in this manner in a question and answer:

-Q: So Curry could be a transformative figure maybe the way Bird and Magic brought in that level of passing, then Jordan with above the rim, then maybe you and Jason Kidd with a different kind of point-guard play? Do you see this happening now?

-NASH: It's the evolution of the game. We're seeing someone"¦ I hate to put myself in this statement, but he's taken what I did to another level.

I mean, the ability to find openings, to shoot going right or left, off one leg, either side of the rim, with the range, the variety"¦ he's doing things I never did.

The game's evolving"¦ and it's a beautiful thing because it's about skill and dedication, commitment and inspiring a whole generation.

It's awesome to see. And think it'll be fascinating to see what the next evolution will be because of Steph.

Curry's play is changing the game of basketball, similar to how someone like Magic changed the game:  At least for right now.

Here is a video from one of the games at the beginning of this season.  They have only played about 15% of the season to date  but Curry's play is hitting a new level:

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Curry's play is changing the game of basketball, similar to how someone like Magic changed the game:  At least for right now.  

These are wonderful posts, Dave. Curry really has changed the game, hasn't he? The question remains - is it him, because he's so exceptional, or is it a new style of play that he just happens to be pioneering? Is there any more room for bang-em-up centers and power forwards, like the Memphis Grizzlies have in Marc Gasol and Zack Randolph? I think yes, and it makes things interesting. Then again, I remember when the Houston Rockets got The Twin Towers with Ralph Sampson and Hakeem Olajuwon, and thought they'd never lose another game!

One thing's for sure, Curry - in my eyes - is a very likable champion. Such a polite young gentleman without any chip on his shoulder - oh, I'm sure he's as driven as anyone, but he comes across as a really nice guy, and that means a lot to me.

The greatest long-distance shooter in history off the dribble? I can't think of anyone else.

Man, the interview with Steve Kerr was interesting, hypothetically pitting the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls against the 2014-2015 Golden State Warriors. As I write this, the Warriors are 15-0! I love bar debates such as this, and I suspect you do, too. I certainly have no answer to this question.

"Steve Kerr Q&A: 2015-2016 Warriors vs. 1995-1996 Bulls" by Draymond Green on espn.go.com

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Of course good questions.  Who knows?

Has he changed the game?   Will there be a lot of Curry's after him?  Who knows?   There have not been a lot of Magic Johnsons, or possibly any that come close.   First there was Chamberlain and then later Shaq.  Have there been others of that type???  Not really, though currently it appears Demarcus Cousins is the closest thing, at least in my read.   I always marveled at Charles Barkley's play, even as he just misses out as being among the very best of the best.  There has never been anyone else like him in his prime.

OTOH, it would seem that Curry's skills depend less on raw size and more on work work work, which is replicable.  So time will tell.

Big dominating centers???   They won't disappear.  Demarcus Cousins is doing a great job as a virtually unstoppable unguardable big man.  If he stays healthy and relatively trouble free he could be great for years.  Andre Drummond is crushing it right now, starting this year.  We'll see how he evolves.   Both of those guys are tall and big and strong.  We'll see if they keep improving.  The two big rookie centers who were drafted for this year are both having stellar initial entrees into the league.  We'll see how they develop and evolve.

Centers can't go away in basketball.  They are too tall and too close to the basket.   ;)

Curry is likable to you and I.  But lets face it, its a function of upbringing and opportunity.  Curry had the advantage of well off parents, a middle class or upper middle class or well off up bringing and a four year college education  (in part because he wasn't great enough to leave college early for the NBA draft)

So many basketball players don't have those advantages.  Think Alan Iverson.  Hugely controversial, but also hugely popular in certain demographics and really probably the toughest great pro pound for pound...and the toughest by a huge degree.  Iverson is highly admired in various demographics.

Curry:  Best long distance shooter off the dribble???   That is where I liked Nash's insights.  Nash was really talented in that regard, and Curry is besting Nash visually, on a scoring basis by a lot, and as much as Nash had huge positive impact on his teams (especially Phoenix), Curry seems to have more impact.

Curry's shooting is remarkable.  When you watch him on a large screen the ball rotation out of his hand is always true.  He has impeccable follow through.  He releases the ball so quickly and effortlessly.  That is remarkable.  He is hitting long distance shots while moving to right or left or backwards like nobody else.  Also remarkable.  There is nobody else doing it like him.  He is right now in a class of his own.

When he floats to either right, left or backwards and unleashes a shot that hits, it reminds me of Ali when he was at his undefeated best and before he was forced to stop boxing.  Curry is revolutionizing the game and doing it while seemingly floating.  Its transformative.

Finally Curry method of offense is enormously helpful to the Warriors.  He draws defenders so far out that it completely opens up the court for teammates and spreads the defense where somebody is left unguarded.  Curry is effecting assists that Power forward/Point Forward Draymond Green is making.  Curry draws the defense out beyond the 3 point circle.  Green, who is quicker and more versatile than bigger men covering him rotates to the top of the key and gets a pass from Curry.  At that point the defense is flummoxed.  Green can convert, drive, or pass, and with that is one of the assist leaders in the game right now.  Its an amazing outside/in game from a ridiculous deep distance.  The opposition can't defend it right now.

BTW:  Here is a neat little article about the Warriors and Curry and how well they are doing.  It features graphs and statistics and neat little diagrams in explaining just how Curry and the Warriors are eating up the league  It has an awful lot to do with being great on the perimeter, both in attacking it and defending it.

I see Curry as the Mohammed Ali of basketball....floating, stinging and approaching the game differently than anyone before him.  Its amazing to watch.

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Curry:  Best long distance shooter off the dribble???   That is where I liked Nash's insights.  Nash was really talented in that regard, and Curry is besting Nash visually, on a scoring basis by a lot, and as much as Nash had huge positive impact on his teams (especially Phoenix), Curry seems to have more impact.

Curry's shooting is remarkable.  When you watch him on a large screen the ball rotation out of his hand is always true.  He has impeccable follow through.  He releases the ball so quickly and effortlessly.  That is remarkable.  He is hitting long distance shots while moving to right or left or backwards like nobody else.  Also remarkable.  There is nobody else doing it like him.  He is right now in a class of his own.

When he floats to either right, left or backwards and unleashes a shot that hits, it reminds me of Ali when he was at his undefeated best and before he was forced to stop boxing.  Curry is revolutionizing the game and doing it while seemingly floating.  Its transformative.

I agree with everything you say - here's another point to ponder:

Curry is *so* precise that I wonder if he's also introducing another, not-yet-discussed, aspect to the game: that of a short career.

To play at such a level of precision is to demand coordination and quickness at such an extraordinarily high level that it cannot possibly be extended over a long career, when the human body creeps into the 30s, or in the case of Abdul-Jabbar, into the 40s. Curry isn't doing anything to *hurt* himself, like Nadal in tennis (that poor man is going to have one hell of a case of shoulder arthritis when he's older because of the way he follows through on his forehand); but almost like a female gymnast, I wonder if the peak for this level of precision and fitness is about a five-year window, simply because human anatomy doesn't retain these levels for much longer than that. I watch Bird shoot threes, and I watch Curry shoot threes, and Curry is light years more effective because he gets them off *so quickly*. Note also that Bird's career 3-point percentage was .376, and as of this writing, Curry's is .440, so it isn't just the quick release.

Curry also seems to get his shots off from a *much* lower point, so maybe he's simply pioneering a new/old style of shooting long (recall the two-handed set shot). To put in a plug for my high school, I think he uses a variation of the highly influential Buzzy Braman method of shooting (Braman was Springbrook High School, class of 1972, and led them to a Maryland AA State Championship at Cole Field House (AA was the largest division at the time)). I've mentioned a variation of this here before.

Also, Curry has *never* averaged over 24 ppg in his career, so maybe he's just been on fire this year, and will cool off as the season goes on.

Time will tell.

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The NYTimes and members of a San Fran Ballet troop discuss similarities with Stephen Curry

I didn't want to overdo this but the NY Times just put out a story discussing the similarities between Stephen Curry and Ballet.  Its not just that Curry is playing so well, he is impacting his team to a new all-time winning record for the start of a season...its that his style of play is so "different" and somewhat revolutionary.

Whether Curry's play reminds one of Mohammed Ali in his dancing prancing punching prime   or of the moves and efforts of ballet...Curry is playing the game of basketball differently than anyone else.  Its worthwhile to at least see his highlights.

Highlights???   This isn't even one of his best games, in fact the highlights title features both Curry and an NBA rookie 19 year old guard, Emanuel Mudiay.  Its simply interesting to contrast their styles.  One other point of note:  Watch some Curry 3 pointers versus those of other players.  In most or many cases other players are shooting the 3 pointers after catch and shoot;  Someone else is setting them up.   With Curry he is creating his own and boogying around to generate space to get off the shot:

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Some of the detail behind Curry's great outside shot:  quickness of release, repetitive shooting motion, height of the shot, etc:

On top of all that Curry creates his own 3 pt shot and shoots it more accurately than anyone else:   Statistics as to volume and accuracy from last year's 5 most prolific shooters of 3 pt shots wherein they created the shot on their own, (ie  it was not a function of an assist or a catch and shoot:

, but out of 11 guys who attempted at least 150 of those shots, he's the most accurate.

Most Made Off-the-Dribble 3-Pointers in 2014-15
1. Stephen Curry, 147 (43 percent)
2. James Harden, 110 (36 percent)
3. Damian Lillard, 103 (33 percent)
4. Chris Paul, 90 (40 percent)
5. Lou Williams, 88 (31 percent)

Its a very individual, clearly well practiced shot.  Its quickness and release while he is jumping gives it the appearance of a push shot/jump shot.  Watch it on a large screen and its remarkable how true the rotation of the ball is in the air.  The follow through and finger tip release have to be the result of endless and endless practice...and in Curry's case it works.

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 here's another point to ponder:

Curry is *so* precise that I wonder if he's also introducing another, not-yet-discussed, aspect to the game: that of a short career.

To play at such a level of precision is to demand coordination and quickness at such an extraordinarily high level that it cannot possibly be extended over a long career, when the human body creeps into the 30s, or in the case of Abdul-Jabbar, into the 40s. Curry isn't doing anything to *hurt* himself, like Nadal in tennis (that poor man is going to have one hell of a case of shoulder arthritis when he's older because of the way he follows through on his forehand); but almost like a female gymnast, I wonder if the peak for this level of precision and fitness is about a five-year window, simply because human anatomy doesn't retain these levels for much longer than that. I watch Bird shoot threes, and I watch Curry shoot threes, and Curry is light years more effective because he gets them off *so quickly*. Note also that Bird's career 3-point percentage was .376, and as of this writing, Curry's is .440, so it isn't just the quick release.

Curry also seems to get his shots off from a *much* lower point,

Also, Curry has *never* averaged over 24 ppg in his career, so maybe he's just been on fire this year, and will cool off as the season goes on.

Time will tell.

Shortness of career??   I can't speak to that as a function of preciseness, but it does bring to mind an old Bullet,  John Williams.  Williams was a very talented basketball player.  Unfortunately he "ate" himself out of the league.  I guess he liked food better than basketball.    I watched him.  He was very skilled.  I guess that great weight slowed him down...ugh.   BTW:  if you never saw him here is a little news story about the struggles with weight of the talented John Williams

I believe big men/centers often have longer careers than smaller players/guards as the demands of being so quick both wear down a player, and you lose quickness a lot faster than losing height.

Meanwhile if you want to see a graphic demonstration of deterioration look at the charts in this 538 article about Kobe Bryant.  Ten years ago he was the best player in the game(possibly the best player not named Lebron--or maybe the best).  The chart for 2005-06 is telling.   Look at the chart for his shot effectiveness this season.  Putrid.  He is among the worst players.

10 years ago Kobe was 27...at a prime.  Now the chart demonstrates how much he has deteriorated.  This year Kobe Bryant could be the least effective starter in the league.

Ultimately age always wins.   But as to Curry??  I guess we'll watch and see.

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I watch Bird shoot threes, and I watch Curry shoot threes, and Curry is light years more effective because he gets them off *so quickly*. Note also that Bird's career 3-point percentage was .376, and as of this writing, Curry's is .440, so it isn't just the quick release.

Curry also seems to get his shots off from a *much* lower point, so maybe he's simply pioneering a new/old style of shooting long (recall the two-handed set shot). To put in a plug for my high school, I think he uses a variation of the highly influential Buzzy Braman method of shooting (Braman was Springbrook High School, class of 1972, and led them to a Maryland AA State Championship at Cole Field House (AA was the largest division at the time)). I've mentioned a variation of this here before.

Also, Curry has *never* averaged over 24 ppg in his career, so maybe he's just been on fire this year, and will cool off as the season goes on..

Curry's jumpshot is something to look at, as his shooting percentage from a deep distance is so high, and he is shooting a lot of them; more this year than last year.   I'm not sure if Curry is more effective than Bird because he is getting them off so quickly.  I suspect both Bird and Curry rarely see or saw their shots blocked.  OTOH, there is no dispute, Curry's percentage of success is far higher.

Curry's shot IS different from most others.  I checked out a bunch of players on youtube, including Jordan, Kobe, Ray Allen, Bird, and a few others.  Jordan and Kobe are at the peak of athleticism and had what appeared to me to be very similar styles.  One thing about Ray Allen, and Bird (two of the legendarily best long distance shooters), along with Kobe and Jordan, is that they all released their shots from a much higher point than Curry.  That part is very very different.

Per reading about him, one person that influenced Curry at a very very young age was his father, (Dell Curry, a noted NBA 3PT/long distance shooting expert)  His father got young Curry to release his shot from a higher point!!!!!    Imagine that!  

I'd read/heard about Buzzy Braman.  But really there are a lot of "shot doctors" around.  Some suggest very similar methods.  Who knows how Steph Curry developed his shot, other than we know he was around a lot of NBA players for a period because of his dad.  He had exposure to experts.

In returning to the videos virtually all the known great shooters (that I reviewed) release the ball from a higher point than does Curry.  Since he is releasing it earlier, that might account for the "quickness factor".  Per some data from 538 his release is about 0.1 of a second faster than the average in the NBA.  Maybe its because its being released from a lower point.   One other difference with Curry is that he seems to release the shot from a lower point in his jump.  He is still rising while shooting.  In most cases the other referenced shooters release their  shots virtually at the top of their jumps... or still going up but virtually at the peak.

He shoots with a tremendous amount of immediate arc...so even if he is releasing from a lower point, it rises quickly (to avoid being blocked).

With all that commentary on style, its his ability to float around the three point line, go left or right, or interestingly step back and get off a shot.  That is where he is very different from anyone before him.  I think ultimately its the fact that regardless of point of shot one develops incredible consistency, balance and tremendous feel of ball and follow through to be excellent.  That is what all the shooters say, anyway.

He is shooting these balls at an unprecedented rate, he is connecting at an extraordinarily high percentage and dramatically different from anyone else before him, he is creating his own shot.

As to his scoring average I think we'll see it evolve over the year.  If teams put extra defense on him, I'm sure he'll start passing off more.  The Warriors have a lot of great shooters.  I taped and watched a review of his last game.  Utah was all over him for 3 quarters.  He kept passing off.  The game was close.  In the final quarter he kept shooting anyway with all that defensive effort...and damned if he wasn't hitting and helped win a close game.

He is playing beautifully and  is doing it markedly different than anyone else.  All this excellence really reminds me of the revolutionary heavyweight Mohammed Ali at his peak...dancing, floating, and stinging with jabs, and so dramatically different than the big punching vastly slower palookas he pummeled.   Of course a group of San Francisco ballet dancers found Curry's style similar to their athleticism at their best.  He is performing very well.  Encore Encore!!!!!!!!!

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On 12/1/2015 at 6:21 PM, DaveO said:

I'd read/heard about Buzzy Braman.  But really there are a lot of "shot doctors" around.  

A long time ago, perhaps back around 1990, my brother (a pediatrician in Jacksonville, FL), who was a truly outstanding shooter - mainly due to his friendships with Ed Peterson, Buzzy Braman, Brian Magid, and Craig Esherick (my brother was also the trainer for Springbrook's basketball team, and could shoot the *lights* out of long set-shots - he, in turn, influenced me). Anyway, Rocky (my brother) told me about a time he went to a carnival (yes, a *carnival*) in Jacksonville, FL, and there was a booth there where a participant could pay something (I'm guessing $10), and if they could sink more free throws in 10 attempts than the "guy" they had shooting, they'd win something ridiculous - I can't remember what the prize was, but it was enough to entice *all* the Jacksonville high school players to shoot against this short, dumpy, white guy. Rocky said he stood there and watched this for about 30 minutes, and what he witnessed was this: the challengers would shoot 10 free throws, and complete their turn. The guy from the carnival would then step up, and shoot *only the amount* required to tie the challenger - for example, if some cocky All-State stud came up and sank 9-out-of-10 free throws, the carnival guy would then come up, and shoot 9 balls, making all 9, and then stop, because the rules were that you had to *beat* him. Rocky said he saw this time-after-time-after-time, and there wasn't a single missed shot after 30 minutes (I'm guessing the time because my memory has faded, but that sounds about right).

Rocky went up to the man during a lull, and asked him (I'm translating here), "WTF?!" And the short, white, dumpy, farmer explained the situation. There were no tricks - no narrow rims, no short or long baskets - everything was full-on regulation. This farmer guy, who was probably in his 40s at the time, with a beer gut, explained that this is just something he can do. My brother probed more. But there wasn't any additional information to be mined - "It's just something that I can do," the man said. His name was Ted St. Martin, and believe it or not, he's from Jacksonville, Florida, and holds the *world record* for Most Consecutive Free Throws at 5,221. You can read that ten times and see it's not a typo. You can Google Ted St. Martin, and you'll see that it's absolutely true.

Sports-wise, this is one of the craziest things I've ever heard in my life. Ted St. Martin's website is here [Editor's note: As of Jun, 2018, "sharpshooterfreethrows.com" has expired, and appears to be owned by scammers, so don't go there]. Notice that his follow-through looks a *lot* like Buzzy Braman's - there really *is* a science behind shooting, and at the end of the day, I suspect it becomes a game of getting it locked into your "muscle memory," and turning your mind off in pressure situations. If there's any interest, I may have my brother chime in here since he actually witnessed it.

Incidentally, I personally once heard Morgan Wooten give a lecture about shooting. During it, he said that if you go up to a basketball rim - up close - you can see that it's possible to drop *two basketballs* through at the same time. Yes, the rim, is *twice* the width of a basketball. Although I had several takeaways from that lecture, that was the one that stuck the most - that really is a *huge* margin for error.

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Great posts and thanks Don for even including me in the same breath as these other guys who are some of the greatest pure shooters in the history of basketball but relatively unknown. I watched Buzzy at his camp one summer and he had a lot of great tips for even seasoned professionals. His tryout for the 76ers as a shooting coach where he made something like 248 of 251 3 pointers in front of the team while giving a lecture.... with the guys going crazy yelling and falling out while he did it sounds like BS but its real and he got the job as shooting coach on the spot! Later he tried with limited success to help Shaq with his free throw shooting working for the Orlando Magic.  I have one small "two cents" to throw in about shooting based on my own personal experience trying to analyze how to shoot long distance more easily.  Most jump shooters are using their arm (or arms if their technique isnt right) to get power in the shot at the height of their jump.... and its not a bad thing because what good is it to be accurate if you get your shot blocked back in your face? However, the earlier you release the ball, the more you can use your LEGS to get distance on the ball and so you can shoot a hell of a lot farther out then a high release using more arm. So if you are just shooting around with no one on you or in a game wide open, its much easier to use a lower release and BEND YOUR KNEES to get more free power on the shot. If you dont believe me, try it and see. I figured this out on my own and it does work... experiment with shooting flat footed with no knee bend or try shooting from a chair for zero leg assistance and see what I mean. You still need proper technique when shooting ( for a right hander, left hand helps support the ball only and thumb never turns towards the basket on the shot... as per Buzzy..... or you are tossing in a variable that doesnt need to be there and can only hurt you. So to me, most long shooting breaks down because you are straining to get enough distance and it messes up your natural shooting form.  Its easier to maintain your form with a deep knee bend and lower release and hence be more accurate from farther out. Curry has combined this with extreme quickness and his little darting move IN then BACK before he releases the ball, catching the defenders going the wrong way while hes shooting. He also doesnt wait to see how they respond to his move, he just does it and shoots assuming they will not keep up, which they usually dont. As Morgan Wooten said...."The "actor" wins, the "reactor" loses!"

This only works well over the long haul if they are afraid you might drive past them, since if they are not afraid of that they just stay in your face and you cant ever get any shots off at all. One final basketball observation ...... even though Wooten gave that actor/reactor tip to help your offense, Ive had a lot of success on defense using that by making the first moves as far as intercepting passes or stealing the ball and it can drive people nuts (or make you look bad depending on the situation!) .  Last statement..... Wooten also said..... "The first time you get the ball on offense, drive to the basket. It will open up your outside shot for the rest of the day."   great advice..... kind of like ripping the ball down the alley in doubles tennis first service return of the day!

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As Morgan Wooten said...."The "actor" wins, the "reactor" loses!" ... This only works well over the long haul if they are afraid you might drive past them, since if they are not afraid of that they just stay in your face and you cant ever get any shots off at all. One final basketball observation ...... even though Wooten gave that actor/reactor tip to help your offense, Ive had a lot of success on defense using that by making the first moves as far as intercepting passes or stealing the ball and it can drive people nuts (or make you look bad depending on the situation!) .  Last statement..... Wooten also said..... "The first time you get the ball on offense, drive to the basket. It will open up your outside shot for the rest of the day."   great advice..... kind of like ripping the ball down the alley in doubles tennis first service return of the day!   

It must be pointed out that this is coming from one of the founders of the legendary Jacksonville, FL, men's basketball team: "Old, White, and Tired."

And it should also be noted that NiceDocter is quite possibly the best pure shooter I've ever personally known outside of the initial group I named: Peterson, Braman, Magid, and Esherick (all of whom, especially Magid and Esherick, respecting him, not just for his shooting, but also for being the best duckpin bowler in White Oak during his day (long-since surpassed by his ex-peer and my own ex-captain, Eddie Darling, whom I can't recognize outside of his Paint Branch High School letter jacket for Cross-Country), and also for being the #10-ranked tennis player in Florida in the Men's 40-and-Over Division (Twin Farms tennis-ladder match with Stan Fagan long-since forgotten, and dismissed as a "warm-up" for his future career).

I guess that unbelievably floored grass-and-dirt basketball court we had in the back yard growing up served its purpose. You left when I was 12, but I ended up becoming a 90% FT shooter myself.

So, NiceDocter, settle an argument: Was Sammy's Villa better than Ledo's?

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Incidentally, I personally once heard Morgan Wooten give a lecture about shooting. During it, he said that if you go up to a basketball rim - up close - you can see that it's possible to drop *two basketballs* through at the same time. Yes, the rim, is *twice* the width of a basketball. Although I had several takeaways from that lecture, that was the one that stuck the most - that really is a *huge* margin for error.

It's also not quite true - a regulation basketball hoop is 18" diameter clear, while an NBA regulation ball is 9.39" diameter and an NCAA regulation ball is 9.39-9.55" diameter. But the lecture probably wouldn't have been as good or memorable if he'd said "it's possible to drop 1.91 basketballs through at the same time".

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It's also not quite true - a regulation basketball hoop is 18" diameter clear, while an NBA regulation ball is 9.39" diameter and an NCAA regulation ball is 9.39-9.55" diameter. But the lecture probably wouldn't have been as good or memorable if he'd said "it's possible to drop 1.91 basketballs through at the same time".

Interesting - maybe he meant you can put two balls in the hoop and have them sit in there rather than drop through - this was a *long* time ago, so I probably just forgot his words.

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On 12/1/2015 at 8:20 PM, DonRocks said:

A long time ago, perhaps back around 1990, my brother (a pediatrician in Jacksonville, FL), who was a truly outstanding shooter - mainly due to his friendships with Ed Peterson, Buzzy Braman, Brian Magid, and Craig Esherick (my brother was also the trainer for Springbrook's basketball team, and could shoot the *lights* out of long set-shots - he, in turn, influenced me). Anyway, Rocky (my brother) told me about a time he went to a carnival (yes, a *carnival*) in Jacksonville, FL, and there was a booth there where a participant could pay something (I'm guessing $10), and if they could sink more free throws in 10 attempts than the "guy" they had shooting, they'd win something ridiculous - I can't remember what the prize was, but it was enough to entice *all* the Jacksonville high school players to shoot against this short, dumpy, white guy. Rocky said he stood there and watched this for about 30 minutes, and what he witnessed was this: the challengers would shoot 10 free throws, and complete their turn. The guy from the carnival would then step up, and shoot *only the amount* required to tie the challenger - for example, if some cocky All-State stud came up and sank 9-out-of-10 free throws, the carnival guy would then come up, and shoot 9 balls, making all 9, and then stop, because the rules were that you had to *beat* him. Rocky said he saw this time-after-time-after-time, and there wasn't a single missed shot after 30 minutes (I'm guessing the time because my memory has faded, but that sounds about right).

Rocky went up to the man during a lull, and asked him (I'm translating here), "WTF?!" And the short, white, dumpy, farmer explained the situation. There were no tricks - no narrow rims, no short or long baskets - everything was full-on regulation. This farmer guy, who was probably in his 40s at the time, with a beer gut, explained that this is just something he can do. My brother probed more. But there wasn't any additional information to be mined - "It's just something that I can do," the man said. His name was Ted St. Martin, and believe it or not, he's from Jacksonville Florida, and holds the *world record* for Most Consecutive Free Throws at 5,221. You can read that ten times and see it's not a typo. You can Google Ted St. Martin, and you'll see that it's absolutely true.

Sports-wise, this is one of the craziest things I've ever heard in my life. Ted St. Martin's website is here [Editor's note: As of Jun, 2018, "sharpshooterfreethrows.com" has expired, and appears to be owned by scammers, so don't go there]. Notice that his follow-through looks a *lot* like Buzzy Braman's - there really *is* a science behind shooting, and at the end of the day, I suspect it becomes a game of getting it locked into your "muscle memory," and turning your mind off in pressure situations. If there's any interest, I may have my brother chime in here since he actually witnessed it.

Incidentally, I personally once heard Morgan Wooten give a lecture about shooting. During it, he said that if you go up to a basketball rim - up close - you can see that it's possible to drop *two basketballs* through at the same time. Yes, the rim, is *twice* the width of a basketball. Although I had several takeaways from that lecture, that was the one that stuck the most - that really is a *huge* margin for error.

The Ted St Martin "thing" is very amazing.  He has a remarkable skill.

I recall Brian Magid by name with a reputation as a remarkable shooter.  He went to the biggest of the big leads at U Maryland and really didn't do it.  Actually there are a fair number of players of that ilk.  They come out of high school, go up a level and its usually that they don't have the mobility to showcase that skill.  Then take it to the next level.  A recent example is Jimmer Fredette, great standup outside shooter and a great scorer in college.  He can't make it in the pros...at least so far.  The other side of the coin is JJ Redick from Duke a great college outside shooter who struggled in the pros, has adjusted and is now productive in the pros as an outside shooter with additional skills.

Curry is playing at a whole different level than all these guys.  He, like many, has a great outside shot.  He is now an excellent ball handler, dribbler and a passer, and he really didn't start working on those skills till his last year in college.   As your brother referenced he is a strong driver and scorer in the paint, a skill he has improved upon over the years.  That is a skill that means defenders have to lay off him somewhat.

Curry has simply taken these skills to another level.  He has added, what your brother described as a "darting move", that step back thing to get off an even longer long shot.  I don't see anyone else even approaching that little trick.  Its one of those moves that takes the game to a new and different level.

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"Stephen Curry's Bombs Are Too Good To Be True (I Mean, They Have To Be, Right?)" by Benjamin Morris on fivethirtyeight.com

I've been thinking about Curry a fair amount, and I believe he's caught the entire NBA off-guard (no pun intended). Nobody has figured out how to cover him ... yet. I suspect people are being paid full-time salaries to try and figure out how to stop him, and it's going to take the league awhile to react, but I believe they will react, at least to some degree - the questions are: when, and will it work? One thing I'm skeptical about is that Curry has been superhuman over only one-quarter of a season, and that's not going to make his career; if he can keep it up over the long term? That's a pretty scary thought, but I also think it's a big if. Maybe he *will* be that once-in-a-generation athlete that disrupts everything, and forces sport-wide change.

I don't mean to keep bringing up tennis, but the serve-and-volley game essentially no longer exists, and it all started with carbon racket technology and Ivan Lendl; now, it's gotten even more pronounced with Luxilon strings and robots like Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Maybe Curry has "invented" a new way of shooting - perhaps he's the Dick Fosbury of NBA shooters.

Because of this possibility, it's worth watching the ESPN Sport Science video in that article - I would have thought that, like with most (all?) other players, Curry increases shot distance with more knee bend, but (despite my brother's sound advice up above), that's not the case; Curry does it all in his forearm and wrist.

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"Stephen Curry's Bombs Are Too Good To Be True (I Mean, They Have To Be, Right?)" by Benjamin Morris on fivethirtyeight.com

I've been thinking about Curry a fair amount,

Me too.   (been thinking how to frame another Curry post) ;)

Nobody has figured out how to cover him ... yet. I suspect people are being paid full-time salaries to try and figure out how to stop him, and it's going to take the league awhile to react, but I believe they will react, at least to some degree - the questions are: when, and will it work? 

Its always difficult to defend great scorers.  Basically you can't.  Its why they are great scorers.   But the coaches and the assistants are working on this full time.  One traditional way is to double team him and force the other players to beat you.  Another way is to double and overcover the other players and force the "scorer" to beat you alone, hopefully he'll have an off day.  I've seen clips of both efforts.  In either case in general, the goal with great scorers is to slow them down, make it more difficult, etc.  They really can't be completely stopped (they do have some bad games though).

So far the problem is that Curry really hasn't had a terrible game yet, and alternatively his teammates are playing great so neither defense has worked.  In their last game, Klay Thompson the other guard and another noted outside shooter was hotter than hot.  Curry cut back his shooting during the game and fed Thompson more.  The Warriors had a huge lead, Curry didn't have a ton of points,  but in the last quarter Indiana, (a good team) made a great run.  Then Curry went on fire for a few moments in the last quarter and the Warriors clinched it.  And then to go back to your point, Don....nobody "stopped" Curry in that game.  He emphasized feeding and assists rather than scoring.

A lot of it is implementation, talent on the other side, and teamwork.  Some of that develops over the season, or over more than one season with a corp group of teammates that get better in unison over time.

Right now the "core" Warrior team is playing incredible, virtually at a pace that no other team has ever matched.  The core is not the starting five, which includes a center, but the "small ball five" they completely relied upon as the dominant group last year against the Cavs in the NBA finals.    Here are some incredible stats highlighting the small ball five from the Warriors as shown in a variable chart for "plus/minus" performance for the NBA this season to date.   You can adjust the chart in different ways (total plus/minus, plus minus per game, etc).   That small ball five from the Warriors dominates everyone else.  Curry and Draymond Green are the keys.

So its trying to cover Curry, but also deal with the entire team.   No other team has done it yet.

One thing I'm skeptical about is that Curry has been superhuman over only one-quarter of a season, and that's not going to make his career; if he can keep it up over the long term? That's a pretty scary thought, but I also think it's a big if. Maybe he *will* be that once-in-a-generation athlete that disrupts everything, and forces sport-wide change.

Who can know about the "career" thing?   Injuries can shorten it.  He could "lose it" quickly as you have hypothesized.  We won't know for sure for a couple of years.

Now this "once in a generation" thing.  Don: Did you reference this last season and this season?   My gut has been to say no as his physique isn't extraordinary, and I'd think there are lots of others who "could" combine great shooting, ball handling, and team awareness if they work at it....and evidently he has really worked at it.

But here is a different opinion.  Its from Rick Barry.  Barry knows his basketball and scoring and the Warriors.  Barry was honored as among the top 50 NBA players of all time, and was ranked 23 by Bill Simmons in the Book of Basketball....and Barry was  a controversial player  But Barry knows basketball.  He led the NCAA's,  the ABA and the NBA in scoring and is the only one to do so.  He led an underdog Warriors to a huge upset 4-0 sweep against the heavily favored Washington Bullets in 1975.  He had 4 sons who played in the NBA, and has coached and commentated.   (and my cousin was one of several players covering him in a high school game, dramatically holding him to under 50 points, but over 40) :rolleyes:

Here are Barry's comments on Curry the "anomaly" and he made them just a few days ago.  So if you do suggest that Curry is a "one of a kind" Rick Barry is in the same camp.

Meanwhile Shaq had different "funnier cuter" comments about Curry  watch this video from ESPN.  Its short and its the comments at the end that put a different Shaquian perspective on Curry

I enjoy watching Curry also and like the rest of the world that follows basketball and the NBA I'm just trying to figure it all out.  Right now Curry and the Warriors are playing so amazing the game is transcending the small world of basketball.

(Caveat-->  Tomorrow on Friday the Warriors play a good Celtics team.  Its possible that two of the Warriors "small ball five" might sit out.  Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson are both injured.  Could be a great opportunity to stop the Warriors and stop Curry!!!! B) )

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Now this "once in a generation" thing.  Don: Did you reference this last season and this season?   My gut has been to say no as his physique isn't extraordinary, and I'd think there are lots of others who "could" combine great shooting, ball handling, and team awareness if they work at it....and evidently he has really worked at it.

No way - all I said last season was this. That's why I'm still skeptical that he can keep up this torrid pace over the long-haul - even for *him* it's unprecedented.

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No way - all I said last season was this. That's why I'm still skeptical that he can keep up this torrid pace over the long-haul - even for *him* it's unprecedented.

Sorry, my mistake.  Wrong impression.   Meanwhile I don't believe I've ever seen your question about maintaining that level of play, excepting of course for age, illness, or injury.  Off the top of my head I can't pinpoint former BB players that have suffered that way. (OTOH, if advanced skills come from endless practice, and one stops practicing, one loses it.).

But like you I find Curry to be fascinating, worth watching and worthy of "endless" analysis.  Evidently so do many others.

Meanwhile here is a "stretch" of an analogy for a great small ball team pulled from the deep past; the Championship NY Knicks from 1970 and '73.  They started Willis Reed at center at 6' 9 or 10".  A center yes, but a short one, and one who scored a lot with jump shots.  The big forward was Debusschere at 6'6" and the small forward Bradley at 6'5".   In '70 the guards were Frazier and Barnett and in '73 the guards were Frazier and Earl the Pearl.   In '73 the main big main back up was Jerry Lucas at 6'8".

Everyone could pass and pass well.  Debusschere and Lucas were outside shooters.  The team was famous for movement.  They were champs for two years and strong competitors during the years in between.  This was before the 3 pt line, but it was a strong team with a heavy emphasis on the outside game.  Nobody on the team was a "Curry" but their stars had different kinds of deadly skills.

One other comment, Don:  I reread your references to ultimately losing these skills.  I agree with the comments to the extent that there is a difference between a player in their 20's and in their 30's.  At some point in their 30's athletic skills diminish.  That is a fact.   Exactly when is different for every player.  BTW:  Lebron James is 30, he is in his thirteenth season, has already played more games than Larry Bird; more regular season and more playoff games.   There is a lot of wear and tear on his body.  At some point his athletic skill level will start to drop.  Could be this year, could be in five years.  Father time ultimately beats everyone.

...and then to Curry's improvement over time:  The second half of this article references how much Curry has improved while shooting close to the basket.  In a couple of years he has improved from one of the least effective to one of the most effective.   He is working hard, improving, and elevating his skills.  This latest enhancement enables Curry to score more often while driving.

Whooo. Boy.  If he is great from outside and great while driving, you can't cover him close...cause he'll drive by you to score.  You can't give him room, b/c he is the deadliest shot from afar.  .....and that is why the other teams are struggling and the coaches can't come up with an answer.

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Defensive Experts Discuss how to Stop Stephen Curry

Don:  You may like this:  The experts speak to how they'd defend Curry!!

"Stephen Curry's Bombs Are Too Good To Be True (I Mean, They Have To Be, Right?)" by Benjamin Morris on fivethirtyeight.com

I've been thinking about Curry a fair amount, and I believe he's caught the entire NBA off-guard (no pun intended). Nobody has figured out how to cover him ... yet. I suspect people are being paid full-time salaries to try and figure out how to stop him, and it's going to take the league awhile to react, but I believe they will react, at least to some degree - the questions are: when, and will it work?

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Defensive Experts Discuss how to Stop Stephen Curry

Don:  You may like this:  The experts speak to how they'd defend Curry!!

I did! Some takeaways:

* All three of these guys "suffer" from Athletic Pride - you just *know* they all think they'd have a chance of holding Curry down; yet, it's pretty clear they all respect him, too.

* The game was way more physical back in their "era" (about twenty years ago), so Cooper's comments resonated the most with me - but how much would the refs allow them?

* The only player in NBA history with a better career 3-point shooting percentage than Curry is his coach (!), Steve Kerr.

* I'm not sure how to interpret Billups saying, "and one." I can think of several possibilities, and none of them are very satisfying.

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I did! Some takeaways:

* All three of these guys "suffer" from Athletic Pride - you just *know* they all think they'd have a chance of holding Curry down; yet, it's pretty clear they all respect him, too.

* The game was way more physical back in their "era" (about twenty years ago), so Cooper's comments resonated the most with me - but how much would the refs allow them?

* The only player in NBA history with a better career 3-point shooting percentage than Curry is his coach (!), Steve Kerr.

* I'm not sure how to interpret Billups saying, "and one." I can think of several possibilities, and none of them are very satisfying.

Bruce Bowen and Michael Cooper were both legendary and among the best defenders in their eras.  They are excellent sources.  Chauncy Billups played excellent defense, but he was also a scorer, passer/assist man and a big team leader.  He understands defense from the individual and all around team perspective.

The game was far more physical in the 80's and 90's and into the earlier years of this century (when Bowen and Billups played and they experienced the changes).   Steve Kerr, Curry's coach and Michael Jordan's teammate, who is the person with the closest "eye" to who would win in the hypothetical match between the '96 Bulls and this version of the Warriors, referenced those differences in his entertaining discussion.  He also played with 3 people acknowledged as among the greatest defenders ever on that team; Jordan, Pippen and psycho Dennis Rodman.   He also knows that he couldn't stop Curry or Thompson.

As to physicality from that period there were the famous Jordan Rules of the early 90's.  It was harsh

Finally as to the "and 1" reference, I'm sure Billups was referencing refs giving "ticky tack fouls" on a shot where a player scores, meaning the opportunity for 3 pt or 4 pt play.  Compare that to the fouls in the Jordan Rules video.  They were physically tough draining fouls and it was virtually impossible to score.

In fact the Jordan Rules video is a good context to get a feel for "special defenses", both by an entire team, and the individual(s) covering an unstoppable scorer.

Lastly the video and discussion before the interview with the 3 players was "more analytical"

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...and more on defending Curry.  I watched most of the Warriors Celtics game last night, even as I was distracted a fair bit of it.  I haven't seen most of their games.  Last night was Curry's worst shooting night of the season; 9 out of 27 total field goals including about 1/2 of his 12 or 13 3 pointers.  But he obviously missed a ton of other shots.

Last night the guys Curry was covering really made him work on the defensive end.  They were running all over the court and using plays that had him banging into screens. They were big parts of the Celtic offense.   I think he might have tired out during stretches.  Additionally they worked very hard to stick to him like glue, as best they could.   He still scored a lot, partially as a result of getting fouled a lot and hitting them all.

Its one of the many "strategies" against a scorer.  It sort of worked.  Ultimately in any game after the strategy is set, its about implementation, and in this case the two guys who mostly covered him were inspired and working hard, albeit they fouled him a fair amount.   I bet more teams will try this over the season.

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There's video of Curry coming off a screen and launching a 3-pointer from the top of the key against the Celtics, but I can't find it anymore - Tommy Heinsohn was calling the game, and he immediately said it was one of the best shots he's ever seen. Now that the video has been posted (in the next post), I see I didn't remember the situation correctly - Curry ran from his defender towards the 3-point line, and spun around for a catch-and-shoot that was about as quick a release as I've ever seen.

"Watch: Stephen Curry's Incredible Warmup Session for Golden State Warriors vs. Boston Celtics" by Jay King on masslive.com

The videos are brief, but they tell me one thing: we're not watching some idiot-savant who can count grains of sand in the desert; we're watching someone more akin to Pete Maravich - a gym rat who spent hour-upon-hour when he was young, perfecting his shooting skills, and becoming quite a good ball-handler as well. Curry can't dribble anything even close to Maravich, and he can't pass anything even close to Bird, but he can shoot better than both of them ever could. It's all basically a variation on the same theme: Take your God-given talent, and spend obsessive hours perfecting it.

Curry is the best shooter in history. (*)

Maravich is the best dribbler in history.

Bird is the best passer in history.

Anyone who objects to those statements needs to at least watch the Maravich and Bird videos linked to here before objecting. Yes, there's Curly Neal, Magic Johnson, etc., but I just don't see it.

---

(*) Discussion of Individual Skill Sets continues here.

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