Shoot for It: With John Beneville ’16 and Alex Lee ’16

by John Beneville and Alex Lee | 11/5/15 6:01pm

What’s good Dartmouth? The “Shoot For It” boys are back in action this week talking about the reigning National Basketball Association’s Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry. In addition to winning regular season MVP, Curry led his team to an NBA Championship, averaging almost 24 points per game, while dishing out more than seven assists and grabbing four rebounds per contest over the course of the season.

Probably the league’s best three-point shooter, Steph Curry is known for his quick release and ability to knock down seemingly impossible shots from range. If there was any question mark before the season started as to whether or not he’d be able to replicate last year’s numbers, there isn’t anymore. Through his first five games this season, Curry has averaged a whopping 35.8 point-per-game shooting with over 57 percent from the field and over 50 percent from beyond the arc. Though it’s only been five games, those numbers are absolutely bonkers. We’ll break it all down in our takes below.

Alex’s Take: Does anyone else remember in March of 2012 when the Golden State Warriors were thinking about trading Steph Curry straight-up for Rajon Rondo? My oh my, how times have changed. As we mentioned, Curry’s numbers this past year and the first several games have been phenomenal, and early into the season, the Golden State Warriors seem even more formidable than they were when they won it all last year.

I think most impressive of all is that Curry looks like a very average guy when he’s not geared up. I’ve seen plenty of people in the Zimmerman Fitness Center that look more athletic than Steph. On the court, however, Stephen Curry has been in complete control. His ability to craftily maneuver and finish against some of the shrewdest, most athletic defenders is very impressive.

He plays for highlights, but it works. Stephen Curry plays basketball like a middle-schooler would play NBA 2K. He has an uncanny way of turning low percentage shots into high percentage shots. From what you’ve read of this column, you probably already know that I disagree with his play style, but I certainly do respect his results.

All this being said and despite the fact that I believe the Warriors to be improved from last year, I disagree with John that the Warriors will come out on top in the West. I think that the Los Angeles Clippers are going to upset the Golden State Warriors.

As I predicted in week five, I strongly believe that the Clippers are going to be a very strong force out of the West this year. Their collapse against the Houston Rockets in the playoffs last year will motivate their efforts, a stark contrast to the title content Warriors.

The physically overwhelming combination of Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan, who are currently in their athletic primes, will be too much for Draymond Green and Festus Ezeli to handle. Let’s not forget that a significantly weakened Cleveland Cavaliers team took these Warriors to game six.

Furthermore, I think that the loss of David Lee will hurt the Warriors more than one might think. Though Lee was not a prominent contributor numbers-wise, he was a staple of the organization that provided leadership on and off the court. I’m not convinced that Curry has matured enough to handle the burden that a great leader must when his team is struggling.

I do not foresee the Warriors advancing to the finals this year.

John’s Take: To say that Steph Curry has started the season well is an understatement. He’s been hotter than a summer fraternity basement during Masters and has made defenders look sillier than the Sun God on any day that’s not Oct. 31. He’s shot three-pointers from ridiculous distances, weaved and bobbed around giant centers to make circus layups and absolutely electrified the Warriors’ Oracle Arena.

I have to say that I wasn’t particularly impressed with Curry’s performance in the 2015 finals. He had some bad stretches and much longer periods of mediocre play, but I think that’s because Curry thrives when he’s having fun. Curry’s at his best when he’s playing at home, saluting the crowd and basking in the glory that comes with making absurd shots and plays on the court. Curry was a little tight in the finals, which is natural for someone that is still young, but the real test this year will be how he does in the playoffs. I don’t think there is any question that the Warriors will be a top team in the West this year, so their whole season is one long preview to their playoff run.

On Monday night, in an absolutely embarrassing game for their opponents, Steph Curry and the Warriors trounced the Grizzlies by 50 points. Yes, that’s right. 50. The Memphis Grizzlies, by the way, have consistently been one of the best defensive teams over the last few years, making the lopsided victory especially impressive. The Warriors will get their losses of course, but I honestly don’t expect to see too many.

I’m confused as to how Alex still picks the Clippers to come out of the West above the Warriors this year. The Warriors have only become better since they won the championship, and I don’t think the same is true for the Clippers.

Although I’m baffled by Alex’s Western Conference rankings, I am flabbergasted by his analysis of Steph Curry. I’m not sure how you can respect someone’s results, which by the way, include an NBA ring and an MVP award, and not respect their play style. To say that he plays basketball like someone playing a video game should be a compliment, not a critique. The man has been lauded as the best three-point shooter of our generation, possibly of all time.

Just because you, or anybody else for that matter, can’t release the ball as quickly and accurately as Steph Curry, doesn’t mean the dude is just chucking up shots. Quite the contrary in fact, it means he has mastered his craft. I cannot believe Alex would be so disrespectful, so blasphemous and so outrageous in his commentary that he would suggest that there are people in the gym more athletic than Steph Curry.

Steph Curry is anything but average, and I look forward to seeing him prove the remaining doubters wrong this season.