I have previously showed my enthusiasm for the current Golden State backcourt of Stephen Curry & Monta Ellis and do firmly believe that they can be very successful given the right team philosophy, players and coaches. I wrote a post about this when Nellie was still here. But a lot of people/analysts insist it just cannot work in the long term.
I believe most people will agree that Stephen Curry is better suited to play the Point Guard position and Monta Ellis is better suited at the Shooting Guard spot. That isn't to say that they can't play the reverse but so far, the way the backcourt has been set has been the most optimal lineup. Previously, many people have blasted Monta after Baron Davis left for not being a good PG and looking more like a Scoring Guard. Monta's assists dipped slightly and people compared him to Gilbert Arenas for being a black hole. That was fair to critique since Monta he wasn't used to playing PG all the time which is why the GS Warriors ended up drafting Stephen Curry who seemed to have more potential at playing PG.
I don't know what to make of Stephen Curry in his third NBA season. He has had brilliant flashes but he took such a huge leap forward his rookie year that since then, his steps forward haven't been as spectacular. Yes, he is still young and is learning probably the toughest position in the NBA. Being compared to Steve Nash should be an honor but also discouraging because should he not reach that level then people might see him as not living up to his potential. It should also be noted that Steve Nash took several NBA seasons before he started averaging about 7+ APG.
With this in mind, us Golden State fans have had a dilemma ever since drafting Curry; to either build around Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry or trade one of them. It seems like most people have decided Monta should leave. But I disagree now more than ever.
The need to trade one of these players is most definitely now and here is why. For a while now Stephen Curry has been considered our most valuable trade asset because his potential as a PG is believed to be better than Monta's. As such he was considered in the Chris Paul trade, Rajon Rondo trade and even now in J.A. Adande's article including a Russel Westbrook trade. However and unfortunately, as we have seen this season and last, Stephen Curry, through no fault of his own, simply cannot stay on the court this year. He is turning into the next Andrew Bynum in that he is great when on the court, but never on the court due to his injuries. Seeing Curry injure his ankle today, on his own, against the San Antonio Spurs just emphasized the need to do something fast.
Essentially, Stephen Curry's stock is dropping every time he re-injures his right ankle, 2 times in 6 games this season while Monta's stock is rising.
Monta is currently playing excellent basketball. He showed he could carry the Warriors without Stephen Curry against the New York Knicks, Curry couldn't against the Philadelphia 76ers which shows resolve in Monta's game. Today, against the Spurs we saw them both play well together, but Monta by himself almost beat the Spurs in the end. He is averaging 8.5 APG this early season, is the 2nd highest non-PG player in assists per game after LeBron James and has shown he is clutch player. He can play PG but is most effective playing as an off-ball SG. Scouts have definitely noticed this. The question is whether Monta can keep this up not only all season but also while in his prime. Well, we shouldn't wait.
When selling stocks, you want to sell when high and if your stock is dropping uncontrollably, then sell quickly to minimize your losses.
Stephen Curry's right ankle seems unlikely to ever heal fully; he can sit out a couple games and likely have it re-injured later again or he can sit out for many games to come back later with our playoff goals out of reach again. He had surgery on the right ankle this longer than usual off-season but to no avail. The front office cannot build around a player who is going to have the same lingering injury seemingly for his career, they simply cannot. The lesser of the two evils (Curry's right ankle or inefficient Point Guard Monta) to play the PG spot for the GS Dubs is Monta Ellis, he may not be as good in the PG spot as Curry but at least he can stay on the court (unless of course he decides to ride a moped again).
There have been many potential trade scenarios for Monta Ellis but here are some for Stephen Curry. Monta's contract is easier to trade because it is larger and thus more creative options. Curry is in the second to last year of his rookie contract which is difficult because when healthy, he is worth more than the $3+ million he makes this year.
Assuming Monta moves to play PG, here are just a few that don't seem completely unrealistic to me, you will all have to decide that.
Westbrook and Durant seem to be clashing a bit. Westbrook's defense will improve our perimeter D and we will still have an explosive backcourt. Curry's much better shooting and deference to Durant helps OKC overall and spreads the floor.
Not good enough? J.A. Adande's take:
Hawks have been looking real good so far, but prior to the season have been looking for new life potentially in a roster shakeup. Hawks have been looking for a PG for a while, though Jeff Teague has been stepping up. With Andris Biedrins as a Hawk, it moves Al Horford to his natural PF position. Warriors get a much needed athletic boost to their front line.
Kind of a gamble but Turner is a legit shooting guard with size, who just needs time. I believe Steph Curry would be an upgrade over Jrue Holiday. Evan Turner and Klay Thompson = Warriors set at the SG spot for a decade.
Probably wouldn't happen for a variety of reasons (divisional rivals). Curry on the Kings would make Tyreke move to a much more natural SG position. Tyreke has been struggling to produce his rookie 20-5-5 numbers. Warriors get a huge, talented, potential-full, giant immature baby with Rasheed Wallace like skills. I'm sure he would love the bay.
Ryan Anderson is an emerging spread the floor PF, plays like Al Harrington but a slightly better rebounder and has potential. He would force bigs to commit to him at the 3 pt line meaning better driving lanes for Monta. He has been ballin so far. Daniel Orton would be a throw in. Stephen Curry is a better shooter than Jameer Nelson and probably a craftier passer.
I believe Toronto would do this trade though I don't know why. DeRozan would be able to keep up with Monta Ellis on the break and is a good finisher around the rim.
Monta Ellis and Eric Gordon?? I don't know if it would even work but it just looks good. The Hornets, I believe need a PG more so than a SG since they have plenty of big men who could become pick n roll bigs. Eric Gordon is as tall as Monta but plays much better defense, one could potentially trade Monta later on for a pure PG.
Big men always take longer to develop than other players. The Spurs have always drafted well and find diamonds in the rough as we've seen with Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. They regard Splitter highly and Tony Parker isn't going to be there much longer especially if Tim Duncan retires.
Again, it may seem as if I'm looking to trade Curry for anything but its not true. I have written other posts stating how a Curry-Ellis backcourt could work and I prefer having this elite backcourt than any of the trades started. But this constant injury to Curry is frustrating and we have to base things off of facts and in the best interest of the organization. Something has to be done before the value of our two best players goes down. I'm hoping Nike does come through with a shoe that will help stabilize Curry's right foot soon. One can only hope.