It's not easy to ruffle Stephen Curry.
The cherub-faced and profoundly polished Warriors' draft pick has put into practice what he learned from his father, who played 16 NBA seasons, and his mother, who became a private school administrator. But ask Curry about his spindly size, and some of that cool seems to disappear.
Curry says lack of size hasn't slowed him down yet on court 07.10.09
"I've heard all my life that I'm too small to play, but it hasn't stopped me yet," Curry said. "I'm confident the Warriors are going to help me get bigger and stronger, and I'm confident in my abilities.
"I guess that's about it on that."
Really, that's just the foundation. So far, Curry has quelled doubts regarding his smallish frame at every level, but he must do it one more time to live up to lofty predictions and the Warriors' need for a franchise-transformer.
Curry is 6-foot-3 and 181 pounds, which is slight by NBA standards but is newsworthy when paired with the fact that he'll be playing alongside similar-sized Monta Ellis.
"He's not real big, not real bulky, so if he can add some strength it's going to help him a great deal," general manager Larry Riley said. "He'll get bumped around a little bit, and there will be some people who will try to post him up a little bit and try to take advantage of him.
"He needs some strength and needs some conditioning, but I don't see that as a problem. It's just a matter of how fast can he get stronger."
If history repeats itself, Curry will bulk up in a hurry - or at least find a way to assuage the potential problem. He added weight while pouring in points during a high school career that left him as the leading scorer in Charlotte Christian School history.
Davidson coach Bob McKillop was about the only one who recognized that.
"I was flabbergasted how quickly (Curry) took to coaching, how smart he was and how he was able to put coaching into action," McKillop said. "He could make something a habit after hearing how we wanted it done one time.
"I knew he would be something special."
Special, as in the school's all-time leader in points. He also drove the school's first Elite Eight appearance in nearly 40 years and then was the nation's top scorer (28.6 points a game) last year.
For McKillop, Curry's play had a much-deeper meaning.
"I'm mystified by the cookie-cutter mentality that exists out there," McKillop said. "You shouldn't measure strength outside the skin all of the time."
Curry "is the defensive back who reads a quarterback's eyes, the centerfielder who gets a great jump off the bat and the guard who sees a play develop before it happens."
Years after Curry was overlooked by all but about three colleges in the country, McKillop's opinion has become popular. ESPN broadcaster Dick Vitale predicted that Curry would be the 2009-10 Rookie of the Year, Bobby Knight called him the best passer in college basketball and Ryan Blake, the assistant director of NBA scouting, said Curry could become a premier point guard.
"Curry is going to be a star in the NBA," Vitale said.
"He's often ahead of the cutter in what he is supposed to be thinking," Knight said.
"He sees a play develop two or three steps ahead of time," Blake said. "He has such a quick release to his shot, but he's equally quick with his passes and his ability to read a play."
How that all translates into the Warriors' success or failure in a new, tough situation will be seen. Curry, however, looks like the right guy upon whom to bet.
He's already quieted high school jeers of "Daddy can't help you now," referring to his NBA dad, Dell. And, after nine first-half turnovers in his first collegiate game, he turned the tide and led a comeback win over Eastern Michigan and torched Michigan for 32 points the next night.
And he's said all of the right things about being with Golden State instead of the New York Knicks, who wanted to take Curry at No. 8, one spot after the Warriors picked him.
"He was drafted higher than me, took a college team further than me and is better than me at golf, so if he felt like he had to live up to something, I'd say he's done pretty well," Dell Curry said.
"He has such assimilation to him, such capacity to live in the moment," McKillop said.
"The New York thing got a little out of hand, and in some ways that kind of dulled some excitement when I was drafted by Golden State," Stephen Curry said. "But the systems are very similar and I'm excited to be here."
Being with the Warriors could have a variety of meanings because their franchise face is Ellis - a player who at 6-3 and 180 pounds is similar in size to Curry - and they're loaded with combo guards. Riley has tried to clear the confusion, saying "We drafted a point guard" and "This does not mean (Curry is) the point guard of the future, but it can mean that he's going to play an awful lot of minutes and have an impact on our future."
Of course, Curry's play will have the ultimate say. He starts his career with the Warriors' summer-league team today.
"I'm here to learn and willing to take criticism," Curry said. "I know what I can do well and will go out there and do it, and I'll leave the rest to work itself out."
Height/weight: 6-foot-3/181 pounds
Drafted: 2009, 7th overall, by Warriors; entered draft after junior year of college
College: Davidson University
Did you know?
-- Led the nation in scoring with 28.6 points per game in 2008-09 en route to consensus All-America honors.
-- Father, Dell, was a star at Virginia Tech and went on to enjoy 16 seasons in the NBA for five different teams, including a 10-year career with Charlotte.
-- Brother, Seth, led all Division I freshman in scoring with 20.2 points a game at Liberty in 2008-09. He then transferred to Duke.
E-mail Rusty Simmons at email@example.com.
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