The NBA has fallen in love with the three-pointer in recent years, and a huge part of that is the rise of Stephen Curry.
Shooting a high volume of three-pointers in a myriad of different ways—spot-up, off the dribble, off screens, and more—breaks defenses if you hit them at efficient rates.
In a recent article on ESPN, Kevin Pelton predicts that the NBA will soon see an influx of Stephen Curry “clones” that will try to replicate his success. Trae Young of the University of Oklahoma will be the first.
A familiar style
Trae Young isn’t the best athlete. But the way he finds shots from long range is so similar to Curry in his Davidson days. He can pass and take opponents off the dribble as well. Like Steph did, he might have trouble finishing at the basket and on defense in his first years in the NBA. But his multi-faceted offensive game will make him a top pick in a loaded draft class.
Young used to watch every Golden State Warriors game on tape, scrutinizing every Curry possession. He’s probably a better prospect than Steph was in 2009. But still, becoming the next Steph is an almost impossible feat.
At first glance, young athletes might think it relatively easy to model their games after Stephen Curry. He’s not seven feet tall, he’s not a leaper or sprinter, and he’s built his NBA game on one supreme ability.
But of course, he’s the best shooter of all time, able to pull up off the dribble better than anybody in the history of the world. He’s also an elite ballhandler, a fantastic finisher in the lane due to precise balance and touch, and a great passer. Not only has Steph worked so hard to get this far, he’s been gifted with superior athleticism in ways that are harder to discern.
There are already a bunch of point guards that play like Steph in the league. Damian Lillard and Kyrie Irving stand out as scoring lead guards that have built their offensive game around their shooting. They don’t have quite the range and gravity as Curry, but the blueprint is there.
On the other hand, there are bunch of prospects who were compared to Curry that have not made it in the league. Most notably, college basketball star Jimmer Fredette was just too weak of a ballhandler, passer, and defender to stay in the NBA, despite being a phenomenal shooter.
Trae Young won’t be the only one. Hundreds of high schoolers around the country are determined to break defenses the way Steph does. They’ll study him like the previous generation studied Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, and the one before that studied Michael Jordan.
It’s one thing to see your franchise player win games, it’s another to see him live on as part of the younger generation. It’s a testament to how much Curry has changed the game, and how much respect young players give him.