The Trail Blazers avoided their first four-game losing streak of the season by trouncing the Suns on Thursday. Portland may have temporarily snapped out of a early-season malaise, but newcomer Seth Curry is still searching for his stride. With CJ McCollum out of action, Curry stepped into the starting lineup to record a meager three points against Phoenix. The former Mavericks guard is averaging career-lows in several key areas to start the year. So, how can the Blazers get their offseason acquisition on track?
Eliminate the Midrange Game
Curry is shooting an abysmal 28.9 percent on his 2-point field goals through 21 games. He is attempting 2.1 midrange shots per game, and 1.4 of those attempts are coming on pull-up attempts. Those pull-up shots account for a considerable chunk of Curry’s overall attempts, and they have been a complete disaster. He is converting just 26.7 percent of those specific shots. After reaching the quarter-mark of the season, it is clear that Curry should drop those attempts from his arsenal.
Instead, the Blazers need to emphasize Curry’s role as a catch-and-shoot operator from beyond the arc. Once again, the sample size is small, but his three-point shooting from catch-and-shoot opportunities are effective. Curry is averaging 1.4 catch-and-shoot attempts per game from distance, and he converting those looks at a rate of 56.7 percent.
Spacing the floor with Curry plays to his strengths, and works to the second unit’s benefit. When healthy, Portland relies on Evan Turner to be the offensive catalyst. The Blazers can mitigate Turner’s lack of outside shooting by putting competent shooters on the perimeter.
This should be a no-brainer moving forward, and this isn’t a case of Curry being rushed to create for himself late in the shot clock. Less than 15 percent of his attempts occur with fewer than 7 seconds left on the shot clock. Meaning that Curry is executing those troublesome attempts when other, more effective, scoring avenues still exist.
Curry’s struggles to start the year may go beyond the scope of his current workload. After missing the entire 2017-18 season, it is reasonable to assume that his road back to 100 percent will take time. The length of his contract, and Portland’s current arc combine to create a poor environment for patience.
If Curry’s current level of production persists, Portland could pursue other options internally and externally. Wade Baldwin IV, Anfernee Simons and Gary Trent Jr. represent options on the current roster. If the Blazers aren’t convinced that one of their youngsters is ready to fulfill a significant role, they could explore the midseason market for trade and buy-out candidates.
—Steve / @SteveDHoops / BEdgeSteve@gmail.com