When the Philadelphia 76ers traded for Seth Curry, it may have seemed insignificant. But he has already been a perfect fit on his new team.
Philadelphia stars Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are known for an aversion towards shooting from distance. The floor spacing will always be a little bit wonky if Simmons does not become more open to shooting. But the addition of Curry has given the Sixers a more modern feel to their offense.
Curry has already done a good job at spreading the floor as more than half of his field-goal attempts have come from beyond the arc. The guard is an elite enough shooter that defenders have to pay serious attention to him when he steps beyond the perimeter.
In fact, many may not realize that among all players who have taken at least 1,000 shots from long range during their career, Curry’s three-point percentage (44.5 percent) ranks second-best of all-time.
Meanwhile, since Simmons has come into the league, per PBPStats.com, he has the second-most assists to three-pointers among all players in the NBA. But when including the playoffs and not including looks from the corner, he has recorded 202 more of these assists than any other player in the league.
Seth Curry says he and Ben Simmons are a “perfect match” on the court together. Simmons is obviously a terrific passer and having a guy like Curry knock down shots is going to make life easier on the floor. #Sixers
— Ky Carlin (@Ky_Carlin) November 25, 2020
Before the season began, because of his prowess from beyond the arc and because of how well Simmons is able to find his sharpshooting teammates, Curry appropriately predicted that the two would be a perfect match.
This seems to be getting through considering that during his first year as head coach for this team, the rotations for Doc Rivers suggest that Philadelphia will depend on Curry on these opportunities. Through their first six games, the two-man lineup of Curry and Simmons has been the second-most used duo for the Sixers.
Due to the amount of gravity that both Embiid and Simmons create, opposing defenders have been nowhere near Curry when he lines up on the perimeter.
Every Raptors defender is looking at Embiid here.
He handles the extra pressure well and makes a good pass on time to find Seth Curry for a huge 3-pointer. pic.twitter.com/TOYnwVpHJ8
— Tom West (@TomWestNBA) December 30, 2020
According to NBA.com, the sharpshooter has had 19 attempts from three-point range in which the nearest defender was not within six feet. That means that a third of his total attempts this season have been wide-open three-pointers. He has hit connected on ten of these opportunities, which ranks fifth-best in the Eastern Conference.
His role in their offense has been defined fairly clearly during the short time he has had with his new team in Philadelphia.
When he gets the ball, he has been expected to react quickly before the defender is able to close out. More than 80 percent of his three-point attempts (28) thus far have occurred within just two seconds of him receiving the ball. It has worked out, too, considering Curry is 15-for-24 (62.5 percent) on three-pointers after no dribbles in 2020-21.
After six games, per PBP Stats, the Sixers are shooting 43.0 percent when Curry is on the floor and just 25.9 percent when he has been on the bench.
Why did the Sixers target Seth Curry? Of 108 players who took at least 150 catch-and-shoot jumpers, Curry was the most efficient, and that's a consistent year-over-year trend.
— Derek Bodner (@DerekBodnerNBA) December 4, 2020
One of the biggest differences has been his shot selection considering his frequency taking midrange attempts (30 percent) is the lowest rate of his career, per Cleaning the Glass.
This should come as little to no surprise considering he was signed by 76ers executive Daryl Morey, whose offensive philosophy during his tenure with the Hoston Rockets was that midrange shots should be a last resort.
Overall, his scoring has been an incredibly valuable addition to his team. He has averaged 1.31 points per possession, per Synergy, which currently ranks 95th percentile among all NBA players.
Seth Curry no-look to Simmons 👀 pic.twitter.com/SCdpwynMVt
— NBA TV (@NBATV) January 3, 2021
Throughout his career, Curry has been known for his shooting but has never established much of a reputation as a playmaker. But as he told reporters, he is looking more comfortable in his role as a secondary ballhandler (via Sixers Wire):
“I’ve been getting a lot more pick-and-roll plays with Jo and some dribble handoffs with Ben, even Tobias some time, so everybody’s touching the ball. Everybody’s a threat, obviously, guys are gonna close out on me at the 3-point line so I got to be able to do a lot of different things. I got to be able to put the ball on the floor.”
He has been in the position to record 6.2 potential assists per game thus far, per NBA.com, and has converted for a career-best 4.0 assists per game. This suggests that teammates have scored on 64.5 percent of opportunities in which he has put them in the position to get the ball in the basket.
For comparison, that rate has not been above 52 percent during any of his previous three seasons in the league. If the guys around him are hitting, he could have a much more impressive rate as a distributor as well.
While the way he has played may not be sustainable for an entire season, this seems like the best role he has ever had since turning pro. So long as he stays healthy, it is easy to see this continuing to become a career year for Curry.