Dunleavy recalls how Steph evolved after first time playing him originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area
Mike Dunleavy Jr. knew what kind of player Steph Curry was going to be after their first matchup against one another in the NBA.
On the latest episode of the “Dubs Talk” podcast, the Warriors general manager reminisced about facing off against the two-time NBA MVP in Curry’s rookie year and how he knew the point guard was destined to be a star.
“I was playing for the Pacers — I had been traded there from the Warriors a couple years prior — and you know, Steph was a lottery pick and I remember his rookie year, coming into Indiana, [Don Nelson] was the coach, some of the guys I played with and you can tell he was just finding his way,” Dunleavy recalled to NBC Sports Bay Area’s Monte Poole and Dalton Johnson.
Dunleavy said how Curry entered the league, at least in terms of his physical stature, left much to be desired, especially now that the young guard was going to be playing against the biggest and best players in the world nightly.
“And I think when you come in the league as a skilled player and you rely less on your size, your length, your athleticism, it takes some time to adjust,” the Warriors GM said. “So he was going through that adjustment period.”
In their first meeting on Nov. 30, 2009, Golden State beat Indiana 126-107. However, Dunleavy won the individual battle, scoring 22 points and grabbing three rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench, while Curry had seven points, four assists, three steals and two rebounds in 20 minutes of action.
Despite Curry’s less-than-stellar performance, Dunleavy knew the guard was on his way to stardom, once he was fully healthy.
“And then a couple years later, play him again because of injuries and what have you and you’re like, ‘Man, this guy has figured it out,’ ” Dunleavy concluded.
Since his injury plagued-2012 season, Curry has averaged 26.4 points, 6.7 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.6 steals in 34.5 minutes per game. He’s also been a nine-time All-Star, nine-time All-NBA selection, four-time NBA champion, two-time NBA MVP, an NBA Finals MVP and is a member of the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team.
Curry also has had memorable individual performances, such as his 54-point outburst at Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks in 2013 along with breaking the record for most 3-pointers made in NBA history.
Part of Curry’s ascension to superstardom has to do with his incredible commitment to getting better every season, as evidenced by his workout routine. As such, the Warriors always will be a championship contender so long as Curry is healthy.
With Curry having turned 35, it’s fair to question how long he will continue to play at an elite level.
Still, Warriors fans can take solace in the fact they have been able to watch Curry blossom, just like Dunleavy did when they first faced off all those years ago.