If Seth Curry had retired at the end of last season, his legacy would’ve been nothing more than a footnote in NBA history. I can see it now: “Brother of two-time MVP and 3-point shooting savant Steph Curry. Son of 1994 Sixth Man of the Year Dell Curry. Appeared in 48 career NBA games.”
Now, it’s become clear that Seth is destined for something greater. Prior to the season, he signed a two-year, $5.9 million deal with the Dallas Mavericks. It was pennies compared to what proven NBA players earn, but Curry was happy to accept. After all, consider how the first three years of his professional basketball experience had panned out so far:
- Went undrafted in the 2013 NBA Draft
- Started his career with the Santa Cruz Warriors of the NBA D-League
- Signed with the Memphis Grizzlies but was waived on the same day he made his NBA debut
- Went back to the Santa Cruz Warriors
- Signed a 10-day contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers
- Went back to the Santa Cruz Warriors
- Signed with the Orlando Magic in September of 2014 but was waived at the end of training camp
- Joined the Erie BayHawks of the NBA D-League
- Signed a 10-day contract with the Phoenix Suns
- Went back to the Erie BayHawks
- Signed a two-year contract with the Sacramento Kings for the league minimum, opted out after one season
It looks like Curry has finally found a home in Dallas. Team owner Mark Cuban recently told reporters he hopes Curry is a Maverick “forever.” Curry’s averaging 12.8 points, 2.7 assists, 2.6 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game on the season, but he seems to be getting better with each passing month. He averaged 16.7 points per game on 53.1 percent shooting in February, and from the end of February into the beginning of March, he enjoyed an eight-game streak during which he averaged 22 points per game. He’s now draining 3-pointers at a better clip than his big brother Steph.
How did this turnaround come about? How does a man manage to escape the black hole of instability that was Curry’s early career? How does someone stay motivated when he gets cut from a team that posts a 23-59 record? How does a player remain focused when he’s balling in Erie, Pennsylvania and his older brother is winning MVPs and Larry O’Brien Trophies?
Back in early 2015, STACK met up with Curry in Erie to see what life in the D-league was like. Curry shared some prescient comments. Though he hadn’t yet made a name for himself in the NBA, there seemed to be little doubt in his mind that his time would come. “I’m sticking to the plan,” Curry told STACK. “The plan of coming in, working hard and playing better. If I continue to do that, good things are going to happen to me in the future.”
Curry was a lethal scorer during his time in the D-League, twice earning D-League All-Star honors. But he didn’t get caught up with his success at that level. The drive to get to the NBA was always there, and he put in extra work to make it happen. Before or after practices, he worked on whatever he didn’t do well in his last game. Curry also didn’t shy away from the fact that the success Steph was having at the time was motivational fuel. “[Growing up], Steph was better than me at pretty much everything we did—whether it was video games, schoolwork, basketball or whatever. But we always competed. He made me better, and I made him better,” Curry said. “Seeing the success he’s had [in the NBA], it’s definitely motivating for me.”
When asked about the difficulties of making a lasting impression with an NBA team on just a 10-day contract, Curry acknowledged that it wasn’t easy. “I have to jump right in the fire and get used to a team’s system and learn their plays. I might not get in a lot, but when I do, I have to try to help them win. It’s tough to go in there and fit in and earn a spot and earn some playing time, but that’s what you have to do when you’re on a 10-day,” Curry said.
Though Curry had yet to log any meaningful minutes in the NBA when we interviewed him, he promised he would stay true to himself when his opportunity arose. “I try to be as aggressive as I can. Teams are going to call me up for shooting the ball, being aggressive, being a scoring guard. If I go up to the NBA and play different, I don’t think that’s [serving] me or the team well. I play the exact same way—no fear, try to make as many plays as I can,” Curry said.
That’s exactly the attitude that earned Curry his deal with the Dallas Mavericks. Last season with the Kings, Curry rarely got consistent minutes. But late in the season, he finally got a legitimate chance to show his stuff. He began regularly logging 25-plus minutes per game in late March, and he proved his trademark abilities as a scorer could translate to the best basketball league on earth. Over the Kings’ final seven games, Curry averaged 16.4 points per contest. He was aggressive, he played his game and the Mavericks liked what they saw. The rest is history.
If Curry goes on to capture the NBA Most Improved Player Award, he’ll be in very good company. Stars like C.J. McCollum, Jimmy Butler and Paul George have won the award in recent years. But award or not, Curry’s story just goes to show the value of hard work and focused goal-setting.