Philadelphia 76ers: Can Seth Curry build on his breakout campaign?

Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /

Is there any fan of the Philadelphia 76ers who doesn’t like Seth Curry?

I know that may seem like a weird question to ask, and in a way it is, but since arriving in town as part of one of the most one-sided deals of the Daryl Morey-era, Curry has captured the hearts of Philly fans in a way few other trade targets could even dream of.

Do you want a guard who can shoot 3s at an insane clip? That’s Curry. How about a quality secondary playmaker with a deceptively sweet jumper and a killer shovel pass? Curry does that too. Heck, Curry even has a cool last name, which came in handy when fans scrambled to create a nickname for the Sixers’ wing shooting duo.

Really, the only person who has been negatively impacted by Curry’s arrival in South Philly is Morey himself, as he was fined $75,000 for a “tampering” tweet aimed at Curry’s brother Steph, even if he later claimed he was simply inviting him to a game.

Surely Curry will remain a fan favorite for however long he remains in our fair city, but how much better can his game get with a full offseason in Doc Rivers‘ scheme? Well, if the 2021 NBA playoffs are of any indication, Curry might just have enough room to grow into an even better version of everyone’s favorite shooting guard.

How much better can Seth Curry be for the Philadelphia 76ers in 2021-22?

When Seth Curry arrived in the City of Brotherly Love, he wasn’t viewed as a starting-caliber shooting guard.

Sure, Curry had started games at the NBA level before, 78 of them to be exact, but over his then-six-year tenure in the NBA split over six different teams, he’d never started more than 42 games in a single season and had never started a single playoff game in 22 tries. While Curry still found success coming off the bench, especially during his tenure with the Dallas Mavericks, Dell’s son was primarily viewed as a journeyman sharpshooter who could be justifiably swapped out for Josh Richardson and a second-round pick.

Once Curry put on a Philadelphia 76ers uniform, however, everything changed.

Despite joining a relatively deep backcourt featuring established All-Stars, intriguing prospects on rookie-scale contracts, and everyone’s favorite 2020 feel-good story, Shake Milton, Curry’s role was far from guaranteed when he stepped foot on the tarmac of the Philadelphia International Airport, even if his inclusion was already being pegged as a massive steal.

Paired up with his father in law, Doc Rivers, and his one-time fellow 3 point shooting contestant, Danny Green, Curry quickly emerged as the favorite to start next to Ben Simmons and was able to hold that role for the entirety of the season, starting 57 games during the regular season and 12 more in the playoffs. While Curry didn’t record career-best numbers in his first season in Philly, as almost all of his stats were a few fractions of a percentage worse than his time in Dallas, he was by far the best shooter the Sixers have employed since J.J. Redick in his prime, while providing some additional playmaking that everyone’s other favorite Dukie never quite offered during his time under Brett Brown.

But wait, it gets better.

Once the notably harsher lights of playoff basketball started to cook the court of the Wells Fargo Center, Curry actually elevated his game significantly, putting up an average of 18.8 points in 31.8 minutes of action a night, while hitting an astounding 50.6 percent of his 6.8 3 point shots a game. Granted, Curry did give a good bit of those points back on the defensive end of the court, as he allowed Kevin Huerter to have a career game in the Sixers’ eventual Game 7 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, but the former Grizzly/Cavalier/Sun/King/Maverick/Trail Blazer was unquestionably the team’s second-best offensive player and an indispensable weapon for Rivers’ offense.

If Curry can translate that increased production over a full season of NBA action, he might just surpass his brother as the best Curry in the NBA… okay, maybe that won’t happen, but it would certainly make the Sixers a whole lot better.

Despite conceivably being a dream landing spot for spot-up shooters due to Joel Embiid’s uncanny ability to draw double-teams in the paint, the Sixers haven’t had a shooting guard – or small forward for that matter – average 15-plus points per game over a full season, with Redick averaging 18.1 during that magical 2018-19 NBA season. Even if Curry can just take the same number of shots he attempted during the playoffs, 12.3 from the field and 6.8 from beyond the arc, he should easily clear that hurdle without much issue, assuming his career-efficiency numbers don’t take an incredibly unfortunate nosedive at the tender age of 31.

Considering the difference between the third-highest scoring offense – the Washington Wizards – and the 14th highest scoring offense – your friendly neighborhood Philadelphia 76ers – was only three points, just getting a few more points from Curry a night could be the trick to transform Rivers’ squad from a really good defensive team to one of the most balanced contenders in the Eastern Conference.

With the Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, and newfound rivals the Atlanta Hawks account for 13.4 percent of the team’s game next season, a little extra production out of Curry could play a not-so-insignificant role in who finishes out the 2021-22 season with the best record in the Eastern Conference.

dark. Next. Can Jahlil Okafor actually stick with the Hawks?

Normally, if an NBA player hasn’t become a starter by the time they turn 30, they probably never will. They might still have long and healthy careers, but that milestone, for one reason or another, might just be out of reach. Fortunately, Seth Curry just isn’t a normal NBA shooting guard. With otherworldly 3 point efficiency and a unique path to the starting lineup, Daryl Morey secured the Philadelphia 76ers an absolute diamond in the rough on a bargain-bin contract who could be the key to putting their offense over the top in 2021-22. The only problem? Curry is going to be eligible for a new contract in 2022 and is in line for a massive pay bump moving forward.