Warriors select Curry with seventh pick
AP Sports Writer
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – The Golden State Warriors don’t expect Stephen Curry to upstage Monta Ellis – not now anyway.
They expect both high-octane guards to complement each other in coach Don Nelson’s up-tempo offensive scheme.
The Warriors selected Curry with the No. 7 pick in the NBA draft Thursday, adding a pure shooter to the mix for a youthful franchise committed to returning to the playoffs in the powerful Western Conference.
“He’s a guy who’s going to fit in quite nicely with the style of play here,” said new Golden State general manager Larry Riley, who was pleasantly surprised Curry hadn’t already been chosen. “I was concerned at one time that we might not be able to get him. I thought he might go ahead of us but as the draft turned out, it came to our favor.”
Riley had been closely tracking Curry for two years as someone the Warriors would like to draft. The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Davidson star and All-American led the nation in scoring at 28.6 points per game and will join a backcourt with Ellis and Stephen Jackson.
“With the backcourt Golden State has and the way they play up-tempo – getting up and down the floor – a high-octane offense is a style I’ve played in growing up,” Curry said on a conference call from New York. “I’m no stranger to putting the ball up and getting up and down the floor.”
Curry was to head West and be formally introduced by the Warriors on Friday.
Riley had indicated he would choose the most talented player still available – and Curry is someone he said would have a great chance to contribute as a rookie.
“I think Stephen Curry’s going to play for us as a rookie,” Riley said. “I don’t know exactly how soon but I definitely think he’s going to be a contributor to this team as a rookie. It might be December, it might be January. It depends how quickly he adjusts.”
The Warriors completed a trade to send guard Jamal Crawford to the Atlanta Hawks earlier Thursday. There was already speculation the Warriors might turn around and trade Curry to the Phoenix Suns in return for forward Amare Stoudemire.
Riley wouldn’t touch on possible deals in the works.
“I’m operating as though Stephen Curry is a Golden State Warrior,” Riley said. “We’re in contact with a lot of teams and have been throughout this draft. We’ve been extremely busy and at this stage I’ll have no comment on potential trades or anything that involves movement in the future. I will tell you that we would seek to improve our ballclub throughout this summer by whatever means.”
Shortly after being drafted, Curry passed a television and noticed reports linking him to a possible swap.
“I just talked to Larry Riley and he didn’t mention it, so I don’t know where I fit in with those talks,” Curry said. “Right now I see myself as a Warrior. Hopefully I go to sleep as a Warrior and that will stay the same.”
Curry’s team lost in the second round of the NIT to Saint Mary’s. He then announced he would forgo his senior season to turn pro. The explosive guard led the Wildcats to the NCAA regional finals as a sophomore in 2008 before losing to eventual national champion Kansas, 59-57.
Curry set an NCAA single-season record with 162 3-pointers during that 2007-08 season.
Nelson and Riley have projected Ellis as their starting point guard heading into training camp and recently paid him a friendly visit in Memphis, though Ellis also can play the off-guard spot. Riley said Ellis is willing to play either position, telling his bosses, “I just want to play.”
Same goes for Curry.
“I’m a versatile player and can do both,” he said. “I have a lot of experience playing both so I don’t think it would hurt to have two combo guards in the backcourt with Stephen Jackson. I think that’s a very dangerous lineup if you ask me. We’ll have to see where the team needs me.”
Riley emphasized the team’s need to improve its passing, cut down on turnovers and play better defense. Curry is a reliable ballhandler who makes good decisions and Riley believes he could help minimize the mistakes.
“It does not mean he’s been drafted to take over this ballclub as our point guard of the future,” Riley said. “It does mean he will play a lot of minutes for us.”
Curry is the son of Dell Curry, who spent 16 years in the NBA with five teams, 10 of those with the Charlotte Hornets.
The Warriors have reached the playoffs only once since 1994, ending a 12-year postseason drought in 2006-07 with a run to the second round. They missed the playoffs in 2008 despite 48 wins – the first 48-win NBA team not to make the playoffs.
The Warriors didn’t have a second-round pick Thursday.