Until recently, most NBA fans knew Seth Curry as a guy in the stands. During last season’s NBA Finals, viewers regularly saw Seth sitting between his mother and father, cheering his older brother Stephen as the Golden State Warriors captured the NBA championship.
What many fans didn’t know was that Seth had spent much of the year thriving with the Erie (Pennsylvania) Bay Hawks, a team in the NBA’s Development League, where he averaged 23.8 points per game. They didn’t know that the younger Curry had been called up to the NBA three times, only to wind up back in the D-League each time. But Seth refused to be deterred by rejection.
“I’m sticking to the plan,” Seth told STACK during an interview in Erie, a day after he’d returned from a short stint with the Phoenix Suns. “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.”
Good things finally happened this summer. Joining the New Orleans Pelicans’ Las Vegas Summer League team, Curry lit up the competition, averaging 25.3 points per game and leading the league in scoring.
“He made this the Seth Curry show,” said Darren Erman, the Pelicans’ summer league coach. “He’s making plays, too, not just making shots but getting to the rim, finishing. His touch around the basket—I didn’t know he was that good with those floaters and all that. He’s been great.”
The Sacramento Kings took notice and inked Curry to a two-year, $2 million contract. Just like that, Curry went from eating Chick-fil-A in Erie to West Coast millionaire.
Curry’s ascension to the NBA can be attributed to the huge amount of work he puts in behind the scenes and the mental fortitude to keep grinding. The D-League life can wear on players: small city venues; not-exactly-4-star hotel rooms on road trips; and tough schedules (back-to-back games are the norm).
“Travel is tough. Especially when you have so many games in a row like we do,” Curry said. “Preparing for that, you’ve got to take care of your body.”
Curry put himself through workouts before practice to get himself warmed up. One routine included the Bench Press to strengthen his chest and the Single-Leg Decline Leg Press to ensure his legs stay fresh for the duration of the season.
“One of the things I like about Seth is that when he comes in, he comes in and works,” said Sheldon Dunlap, strength and conditioning coach for the Bay Hawks, who trained Curry much of last season. “He stays focused, moves through the workout, gets his blood pressure up and gets everything ready for the day ahead in practice.”
As practice begins, Curry runs through his upcoming opponent’s offensive plays so he knows what to expect on the defensive end. Then he works on his shot, specifically his 3-pointers, which have become his bread and butter. He said, “One of the foundations of my game is the 3-point shot. When you come into the gym every day you have to work on it.”
After practice, Curry stays on the floor and works on shots he may have struggled with during a recent game, or learning how to exploit defensive coverages opposing teams will throw at him. It’s an “arrive early, stay late” work ethic he picked up from his father Del, who had a 16-year career in the NBA.
Curry said. “[My dad] told me, ‘Whatever you want to do, you have to work at that to be the best you can.’ The work ethic of trying to be the best you can be and taking the talents you were blessed with and maximizing them is the biggest thing I learned from my dad.”
Growing up around his father’s practices and games, Curry developed a passion for the game and everything that goes with it. “I loved being around the players and seeing how they worked on their game,” he said. “It helped me in my career. I’ve been able to apply some of the things they did to get better.”
This season, Curry will play a few hours north of his league MVP brother Steph. The two are extremely close, talking or texting with each other almost every day. And although Seth’s support of Steph is more well publicized, Steph was right there to cheer on Seth last year when Seth played in a D-League showcase in Santa Cruz.
“Growing up, I always looked up to my brother,” Seth said. “He 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. To this day we’re good friends and talk all the time.”
Curry will work to become his own man in Sacramento, providing an outside shooting presence and creating space on the floor for All-Star big man DeMarcus Cousins. Curry fully realizes the opportunity before him. He said, “Some people get to the professional level, spend too much time being around the game, they kind of get tired of it. But for me, it’s always fun. Even though it’s a job now and it’s very serious, this is my dream my whole life, to be able to play basketball—and being able to do that is a blessing.”
The Seth Curry Workout
Here’s the workout Curry puts himself through to increase his shoulder, arm and upper-body strength while keeping his legs fresh and strong
Leg Raise Holds
Lie flat on your back with your arms at your sides. Keeping your legs straight and together, lift them six inches off the ground and hold.
Resisted Shoulder Circles
Standing perpendicular to a resistance band, hold your left arm out in front of you and grab the band with your right hand. Move your arm clockwise 360 degrees. That’s one rep.
Sets/Reps: 2×10 each arm
Lie on your side with your scapula against the floor. Move your arm in a 90-degree abducted position so that your hand points directly at the ceiling. Use your other hand to internally force your throwing hand down toward the ground. Repeat on your other side.
Sets/Duration: 2×20-30 seconds each side
Assume an athletic stance with your feet wider than hip-width and your body perpendicular to the cable. Grasp the handle with both hands directly in front of your chest. Extend your arms, keeping your core tight. Flex your arms and return to the starting position with control.
Sets/Reps: 2×10 each side
Single-Arm Cable Rows
Begin in a staggered stance with the leg opposite your throwing arm in back. Pull the cable until your hand is at your chest. Keep your core tight and body balanced. Engage your back on every rep.
Sets/Reps: 3×10 each arm
Balance on one leg, holding a dumbbell in your opposite hand at your hip. With your balancing leg slightly bent and back flat, bend forward at the waist until the dumbbell is just above the floor. Flex your glute to extend your hip and return to the starting position.
Sets/Reps: 3×10 each leg
With dumbbells in each hand and your palms facing in, curl your arms until the dumbbells hit your shoulders. Slowly lower your arms back in to the starting position.
Stand upright with your torso straight and a small inclination forward. Bring your upper arms close to your body and perpendicular to the floor. Using your triceps, bring the bar down until it touches the front of your thighs and your arms are fully extended. After a second hold in the contracted position, bring the bar slowly up to the starting point.
Kneel in front of a cable machine, cross your arms and grasp the opposite handles. Without arching your back, retract your shoulder blades, pull your elbows to the side of your body and straighten and externally rotate your arms in a fluid motion so your thumbs point back. Return to the starting position.
Place one foot on the leg press with your toes slightly out. Bend your knee about 20 degrees while lowering the weight. Extend your leg to drive the weight back up. Repeat.
Sets/Reps: 2×10 each leg
Lie flat on the bench with your feet on the ground in front of you. Place your hands on the bar shoulder-width apart and push the bar above your chest. Lower the bar so that it touches the tip of your chest, then press it back up toward the ceiling. Repeat.