Despite shoulder injury to close ’16-17, Mavs’ Seth Curry showed consistency in backcourt

DALLAS — Despite suffering a left shoulder injury that brought his 2016-17 season to an abrupt end, Dallas Mavericks guard Seth Curry was more than pleased with the strides he made during his first campaign with the team.

Signing a reported two-year deal worth approximately $6 million last summer, Curry proceeded to produce a breakout season this year while seeing the most playing time in his young career. The 26-year-old combo guard also showed that he’s capable of playing both positions in the backcourt throughout the season while putting up career-high numbers across the board, averaging 12.8 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.1 steals in 29.0 minutes per outing while starting 42 times during his 70 games. But after being forced to miss the team’s final seven games due to the shoulder injury, the sharpshooter says he will head into the summer concentrating on an offseason of rehabilitation to come back stronger.

“It feel pretty good. I’ve done some rehab over the last couple of weeks to get it better and get it moving into the summer. I mean, (surgery) is a possibility still, but I don’t think that’s necessary at this point. I’ve just been doing rehab, getting it stronger and getting it better, and I’m feeling pretty good right now,” Curry said while giving an update on the injury following the season.

“I’m not sure, to be honest. I’m just taking it day by day,” he added. “The doctors and the trainers test it out, and I’ll go hard throughout the summer and over the next month to see how it feels when it’s getting banged on and stuff like that. I’m not too worried about it. I’m confident that we’ll figure out what the problem is and get it right going into next season.”

Curry, who went untaken in the 2013 draft, played for four different teams (Memphis, Cleveland, Phoenix and Sacramento) during in his first three NBA seasons before finding a home with Dallas. He also upped his scoring average drastically this season after posting 6.3 points per contest in his first 48 career games. However, the 6-foot-2 guard believes that he is now just beginning to scratch the surface of how effective he can be in the Dallas backcourt.

This season, Curry produced 11 games with at least 20 points, leading the team to an 8-3 record in those occasions while shouldering a bulk of the scoring load. He also ranked sixth in the entire NBA in three-point field goal percentage while connecting on 42.5 percent from behind the arc, shooting 48.1 percent from the field in the process. But according to Curry, it was his ability to play both away from the ball and at the point that he’s most proud of while consistently proving to be one of the Mavericks’ top offensive options.

“I feel good. I mean, I learned the system as the season went along, I figured out different ways I could help the team get better, and I just feel like I was consistent, for the most part, throughout the year,” Curry explained. “That was my focus coming into the season. Not just to show flashes of what I could do, but to stay consistent with it and get better over the season. And more importantly, just take the feedback that I got throughout this year and work on it throughout this summer to come back even better.

“I mean, that was new territory for me, obviously, playing a lot of minutes consistently throughout the year. There were some stretches for a couple of weeks where I felt a little tired, but I felt like I got over the hump. I figured out some different routines, and I was able to figure out how to keep my body fresh and get ready for games. That’s just part of my learning experience throughout this year, and I think it’s going to pay off for me in the long run.”

Curry can be credited with leading the Mavericks’ midseason turnaround after sliding into the starting lineup with 12 points, four rebounds and three steals in 24 minutes during a 113-108 win over Phoenix on Jan. 12 in Mexico City. He then saw much more personal success throughout the stretch run of the season, posting a career-high 31 points on 13-of-17 shooting during a 97-84 loss in Minnesota on Feb. 24. Curry also averaged 16.7 points on 53.1 percent shooting and 46.4 percent from three-point range in 11 games during the month of February. But after Mavs coach Rick Carlisle made a late-season lineup change with Curry sliding to point guard in the first unit, the young pro found himself handed more ball-handling responsibilities.

Curry more than held his own during his first outing after the move to point guard on March 23, scoring 23 points, grabbing three rebounds and dishing four assists in a head-to-head matchup with perennial All-Star Chris Paul as the Mavs squeaked out a 97-95 home win over the Los Angeles Clippers. He also averaged 16 points in his final four games at point guard before being shut down for the remainder of the season due to the shoulder injury. That said, Curry could find himself playing both positions in the Dallas backcourt next season after showing that he’s capable of operating in either role.

“I always said I pride myself on being able to play both, and being able to play both well, or whatever the case may be. I like having the ball in my hands and being able to make plays while playing point guard, but I know my skillset is good to space the floor as well and play off the ball, so I’ve always played both. It’s fun for me,” Curry said.

Curry is now expected to be a key piece of the Mavericks’ current youth movement, joining forces with 24-year-old leading scorer Harrison Barnes to help take the torch from 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki. He also hopes to be more comfortable with another year in Carlisle’s system, looking to build on the personal success he saw this season.

Perhaps more importantly, Curry sees the Mavericks’ young contributors growing over the summer to return hungrier next season following a 33-49 campaign. And with the support of the Dallas front office and fans behind him, Curry will set out to lead the Mavericks back to the playoffs.

“It’s a top-notch, first-class organization. Coming into the season, I heard a lot about it and just the way things are run here with the professionalism, and I just really appreciated that throughout the year,” Curry explained. “I mean, it’s about winning. Coach (Carlisle) and [Mavs owner Mark Cuban] do a great job making that first and foremost, making that known, and it was a great experience for me coming into this year. Just seeing the fans and how serious they are about the team is great also. They supported us throughout the year, even though we had rough stretches and things like that, and we obviously appreciate that.

“I feel comfortable. Obviously, I’ve got another year on my deal, but I feel very comfortable here. Hopefully I’m here for a long time. I think we’re excited going forward. Like I said, we showed a lot of things we can build on with young talent. Guys were playing big minutes and playing big moments throughout the season against other great teams and playing well, showing that we can win and not just playing well and just being good. We competed with some of the best teams in the league. And obviously, guys have got to get better going into the offseason. Guys have got to come back and build off the experience they got this year. I think everybody who played and got an opportunity to show what they can do is excited about that.”

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