To be as good as the Golden State Warriors have been over the past 3-4 years, at some point, lady luck has to play a role in some of the decisions that have made the Warriors the best team in the NBA today.
Even though this past season hasn’t been as lucky, the Warriors have still been extremely lucky with injuries, especially Steph Curry’s ankles. Not only that, in hindsight, Golden State better be thanking their lucky stars that Dwight Howard didn’t sign with the team back in the summer of 2013 when he left the Lakers for the Houston Rockets.
But the luckiest break the Dubs have had during their rise to NBA dominance. Being able to draft Steph Curry back in 2009.
Curry, who lit up the college basketball world playing for lowly Davidson college in ’08, somehow fell into the Warriors’ laps at seventh in the 2009 NBA draft, with the Minnesota Timberwolves having two chances at drafting Curry with a need at point guard, but opting to select both Ricky Rubio and Johnny Flynn instead.
According to the New York Times’ Harvey Araton however, Curry was not keen on the idea of playing for Golden State before the draft.
For [Donnie] Walsh, the most painful part of the episode is that leading into the draft, Curry wanted no part of the Warriors and, assuming he was not going to be drafted higher, pointed to the Knicks as his preferred landing site. Curry refused to so much as visit or work out for the Warriors.
Austin was sympathetic and told Walsh he was trying everything he could to get Curry to New York.
“[Larry] Riley calls me and says, ‘Can I watch a workout?’ ” Austin said. “I said, ‘No, you can’t.’ He says, ‘Can I talk to him?’ I said, ‘No, you can’t.’ I tell him that Stephen wants to be in New York. Stay away from him.
From Indianapolis, Walsh can only wonder, wistfully, how Curry might have changed the course of recent Knicks history.
“Every time I see him play, I think of it,” he said. “He was the guy I was really looking for, and his agent kept telling me he wanted to be in New York. So it just broke my heart when we didn’t get him because I knew we had missed out on something special.”
In a telephone interview, Curry’s father, Dell, who played 16 NBA seasons as a sweet-shooting guard, said: “The Warriors had some questionable characters on their team, the Knicks really needed a point guard, and we felt that Stephen would fit perfectly with a coach like Mike D’Antoni, playing that fast, up-and-down style. He loved the idea of playing at Madison Square Garden.”
“He’d get the ball in the backcourt, and boom, he was gone,” Walsh said by telephone from Indianapolis. “It wasn’t just his quickness; he saw everything. I’m sitting there thinking, ‘We’ve got D’Antoni coaching our team, and this kid would fit perfectly.’ ”
On top of the fact that Steph refused to even work out for Golden State, once Curry was drafted and attended training camp for the Warriors, then-Golden State star Monta Ellis was extremely cynical about playing alongside Curry, citing the team wouldn’t win with Curry.
However, on the first day of training camp, Monta Ellis famously had this to say about playing with Steph, “Us together? No… Can’t. We just can’t… Just can’t… They (Warriors management and Nelson) say we can? Yeah. If they say it. But we can’t. I just want to win. That’s not going to win that way.”
So when you think about it, the only reason the Warriors have three NBA titles in the past four years is partly that they drafted Steph Curry, even though he explicitly told them not to. Goes to show that sometimes, you need to go for it, even if everyone else is telling you different.