Warriors PG Stephen Curry Will Have to Pull Out the Handles vs. Clippers Tonight

His junior year of high school, Stephen Curry was given a nickname by the coaches at the Top 100 camp: Samsonite.

Because he comes with handles.

“I’ve always liked handling the ball and been pretty good at it,” Curry said after Saturday’s shootaround. “That’s how I play all the time. I try to be as creative as possible.”

Lately, as teams try harder to stop him, Curry has had to lean heavily on that element of his game. With the steady pressure of the Los Angeles Clippers — especially Chris Paul, who can be a ball-hawk when he wants to — you can expect to see some of Curry’s fancy dribbling tonight.

Curry lit up the Clippers guards for 31 points in Wednesday’s win at Oracle Arena. He dropped 25 in the first half, prompting the Clippers to step up the pressure and double-team Curry.

It’s probably safe to presume the Clippers will employ similar measures from the outset tonight against the Warriors, who are 2-0 against the Clippers this season.

But Warriors coach Mark Jackson said Curry, when healthy, has the skills to prevent teams from taking completely out of his game. One of them is ball-handling, which Jackson said is one of the most underrated parts of Curry’s game.

Jackson, who spent 17 years dribbling through NBA defenses, said he doesn’t view “handles” as being able to do crazy tricks. He considers it that unteachable control of the ball and the skill to manipulate defenses. It’s that innate ability to improvise, dribble instinctively. Intangible qualities you can’t really teach.

“You can get better, but then there is the next level: the gift,”Jackson said. “(Curry) has it. He’s got it all — the ability to lull you to sleep, the ability to change speeds, the ability to handle it with both hands equally as effective. That keeps not only his defender off balance, but all five guys.”

Curry said his lack of exceptional athleticism forced him to get creative with his ball-handling at an early age. His junior year in Davison College, which he spent exclusively at point guard, to prepare for the NBA, really allowed him to master the art of using his shooting ability and his handle to get where he wanted on the floor.

One of the concerns with making Curry the franchise point guard was the question of whether he could get in the lane. Even general manager Bob Myers said he wanted to see more of that from Curry (who Myers signed to a four-year, $44 million extension on Halloween). Curry has gotten noticeably better at getting in the lane.

Unlike Monta Ellis, he doesn’t have the speed to beat people to spot, or the strength of Deron Williams to muscle his way there. Knowing that, many teams put small forward-types on Curry (longer arms to get around, more strength for him to have to get through). Or teams like the Clippers “blitz” Curry (meaning when the he runs a pick-and-roll, they use the big man to cover him until the guard gets around the screen).

That means Curry has to find another way, and that’s when the Samsonite comes out.

“I have a decent first step,” Curry said, “but its not (like) John Wall, Derrick Rose, Ty Lawson, (Chris Paul). I’ve got to get guys leaning a certain way, hopefully, then use my change of speed to get where I want to. Being able to dribble with both hands definitely helps.”

Marcus Thompson

  • Stan

    Tonight’s game has so much anti Warrior mo-jo on it..if the Warriors win,I’m gonna bust a gut laughing. There is just no way the Warriors can win. Impossible.
    And if they do,I’m giving up drinking and start going to church.
    One day.

  • jsl

    Another great read, MT. You’re cooking as well as the Dubs this year!

    Interesting add-on: When Curry was re-habbing the ankle this summer he spent an incredible amount of time working on his dribble, his ball control, his handles . . .as you explain. Some of the short videos coming out of Carolina showed just how nimble he was with the sphere.

    Hope we see a lot of good “handles” of his tonite.

  • Squall

    Samsonite…!? I was way off…

  • Stan

    Yep,jsl, I say the Dr. who did his magic on Curry’s ankle get a team ring..after the NBA Championship. He sure did more then Arnell the announcer for the Giants!

  • Niners in 2012

    I’d prefer he tighten up his dribble. His passing has been tremendouys but most of his turnovers are him getting stripped or picking up the dribble too early and throwing it away.

  • Niners in 2012

    MT2, its time to call out Mark Jackson for the way he handles roadtrips to LA. You know what I’m talking about, these guys need to be more professional.

  • Niners in 2012

    Too. Much. Time. In. L . A .

  • Dave

    At the end of the day, we are only human.

  • Stan

    And why anybody who knows a basketball is round didn’t think the Warriors would -or could-win.

  • Grey Warden

    Worst game of the year by far. They looked slow, played no defense, couldn’t shoot the ball, couldn’t penetrate the lane, couldn’t do this or that, you name it. They should’ve just packed up at halftime and go home.

  • Dave

    Warriors will win the next 3 before Miami.

  • earl monroe

    Finally an admission, I hope this really is a harbinger of things to come

    Steph Curry on his one handed passes that often lead to turnovers:

    “It starts with me handling the ball, not making one-handed passes and trying to thread the needle,” Curry said. “I’m going to try to make plays, but I need to be smart in certain situations. I’ve got to be creative and still try to make plays, but I’ve just got to try to make the right decisions as much as possible.”

  • mvalfan2

    The Clips gave us a butt whipping, but its all good. hard to beat a team on back to back night like that!!!