SANTA CRUZ — You could tell how rough a shooting night Seth Curry had by the way his brother reacted. Having missed six straight 3-pointers, the younger Curry finally got one to go at the 4:16 mark of the third quarter.
Stephen Curry, the Golden State Warriors star, jumped out of his seat and tossed a t-shirt high in the air in celebration, posing with his arms spread as if he’d released a dove into the clouds.
“I’m sure it was pretty funny,” Seth Curry said.
Despite just 3 of 14 attempts, it was not a lost night for the rookie out of Duke. He’s not in the D-League to shoot.
The bigger deal was his 11 assists and two turnovers in 35 minutes as the Santa Cruz Warriors handed the visiting Austin Toros a 117-103 loss.
He looked in control handling the ball against pressure. He was more decisive and assertive running the pick-and-roll. A known gunner, who had 36 points in the season-opener, he appeared just as willing to set up his teammates.
“I feel very comfortable,” Curry said. “If you watch the first three games we played, I think I looked pretty good — getting my teammates involved and scoring at the same time. I felt good handling the ball and everything like that. It feels natural. Obviously, with more reps I’ll get much better. But I feel comfortable.”
Curry’s ability to make the NBA his home is likely tied to his ability to play point guard at the next level. At 6-foot-2, and not an exceptional athlete, defending off guards would be a tall order. But he inherited the family gene from his father, Dell Curry, the former NBA vet known for his sharp-shooting. And pairing an outside stroke with some point guard skills has been a formula proven to work by his older brother.
But for Seth Curry, it’s taking something else: patience.
He certainly needs more than his cult followers in the Bay Area. The final horn hadn’t even sounded on his career before Golden State fans began clamoring for the brothers to be united. Since back-up point guard Toney Douglas went down with an injury, and Golden State has looked desperate for a point guard, Warriors fans have taken to Twitter to lobby for the call-up of Curry.
Yeah, he sees the tweets. He feels the love. Judging by the grin spreading across his face when asked, he likes it, too.
But Curry said his best hope is not to focus on what should have been, or what could be. It’s a distraction.
“You obviously want to be up there. You’re watching games, thinking you can play on that level,” he said. “But I’m just going out and playing basketball. Playing the same way I would if I was in the league. It’s pretty easy for me to put it all behind.”
Golden State would have to cut someone to make room for Curry. But first he has to show some things to warrant cutting one of the current investments on the end of the bench.
Curry needs to work on his body, improving his strength and quickness. He’s got to hone is skill as a scorer so he can be effective against varying defenses. If he wants to play for the Warriors, he’s got to become adept at running the pick-and-roll. And, as is the case for most players coming from college, he needs to get better on defense.
His older brother sees him accepting the challenge.
“My brother is ultra competitive,” Stephen Curry said. “As a younger brother, he had to be like that because I would never let him win.”
Patience is no problem for Curry. It’s been the virtue that has got him through the last seven months.
It’s been a long road to Santa Cruz. Off-season surgery in April killed his chances of impressing a team enough to get drafted. Not healthy enough to play in summer league, he had to scurry for a training camp invite. In the end, he got one (from Golden State). It was that or going to play in Barcelona.
At the bottom of a crowded depth chart, Curry saw limited action in practices and preseason games. One of the last cuts from the pro club, the Santa Cruz option went from a fall-back plan to his new home.
He said he likes it in Santa Cruz. It isn’t your stereotypical D-League atmosphere at Kaiser Arena. It feels much more like a college game, and the loud, packed house seems to love Curry. But while he is hoping it’s just a pit stop, he said embracing the opportunity is what’s best.
“I’ve just got to go out and focus on playing the same way I would (in the NBA),” Seth Curry said. “Just be aggressive. I can’t go out there thinking I’ve got to kill just to show everybody, prove everybody wrong. I just have to go out there, stay calm and play. I think I can do a good job of that. I’m definitely not where I want to be.”