If basketball is jazz, Seth Curry has hit all the notes so far in his first two preseason games as a Maverick.
Preseason is the key word, of course, but just because these games don’t count in the standings doesn’t mean you should lose sight of what’s at stake for players like Curry during this time of year. The 26-year-old has only 48 NBA appearances under his belt and has played for four different teams. He’s hoping he can become a rotation mainstay for his fifth.
It’s safe to say he’s nailed the audition to this point in the preseason, presented by bedgear, showing flashes as both the point guard and off-guard in the Mavericks’ offense. In 12 third-quarter minutes, Curry jammed to the tune of 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting, a missed off-balance fadeaway to beat the buzzer as perhaps the only blemish on what was otherwise an impressive combination of mechanical soundness and improvisation. It was a performance that would remind you not only of his brother, but also his legendary German teammate, whose longtime personal coach has subscribed to the belief basketball and jazz are not too different.
Those are lofty comparisons to make of any player, to be sure, especially when it’s still only the preseason. But Curry has averaged 16.0 points on 50.0 percent shooting from the field and a blistering 77.8 percent from deep in his two performances so far, leading all scorers Monday night with 20 points in 22 minutes. He’s assumed a scorer’s mentality to this point and is shooting with the confidence you’d expect from someone with those intentions.
“He can get it going quick. I love his aggression,” head coach Rick Carlisle said after the game. “And he’s shown he can play both guard positions, so there’s a lot of positives.”
His outlook this season in Dallas relies much more on his ability to provide that versatility off the bench, similar to what we’ve seen over the years, most recently Raymond Felton last season. Curry and Felton, who’s now with the Clippers, are two very different players, but Felton’s ability to play both guard positions, and even occasionally start at either spot, was a luxury for Carlisle last season as he navigated the grinding regular season. Felton’s grit and moxie were huge components of the team last season, and Curry’s confidence and microwave-like scoring could play an equally large role this season.
“I can handle the ball, play point guard, play with point guards and play the 2, spread the floor for different guys,” Curry said. “When Dirk’s out there, and he’s getting a lot of attention. I think I can help spread the floor for him. I’m just trying to fit in the system and find out where I can get my shots, and keep getting better.”
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) October 4, 2016
Where he can get his shots hasn’t been much of a question so far; the guard has had no problem finding good opportunities for himself. His volume of looks could change once he shares the stage with the No. 6 all-time leading scorer, who still figures to remain the focal point of the offense. Nowitzki hasn’t taken the floor yet this preseason, but Carlisle said before Monday’s game that the German will indeed play at some point. There are still five contests to go before the regular season begins, so the team still has time to figure out all of those dynamics. It’s hard to believe, however, the two scorers will find it difficult to play in tune with one another.
For as exciting as Curry has been to this point offensively, much of what Carlisle has talked about so far this preseason has been directed toward the defensive side of the ball. That’s been a work in progress for the 26-year-old throughout his career, but Carlisle said as the guard continues to add muscle in the weight room, he should become a much more effective defender. Curry, too, has said he’s focused on improving on that end. After all, he’s competing for minutes in part with Wesley Matthews, Justin Anderson, and Devin Harris, three players with positive defensive reputations. The Mavericks are going to rely on the defense more this season than many others in memory, so Curry must perform on that end, too.
That said, if he continues to play within the system and the light stays green, he’s going to find his minutes might be just a bit easier to come by. A basketball team is an orchestra, but Curry’s solos have soared above the ensemble in the early weeks of what could be a breakthrough season for the young guard.