According to the New York Post, “Isiah Thomas believes he’ll ultimately be judged by the development of Knicks center Eddy Curry next season.” The Knicks owner, James Dolan, has given Isiah one year to fix the Knicks and if this quote is to be believed, we can now see that the odds are not in Isiah’s favors.
Eddy Curry entered the NBA directly from high school. Had he gone to college for four seasons then Curry would have just completed his rookie season in The Association. But Curry did not follow this route, and he has now played five seasons.
What have we seen from Curry the past five seasons? Curry can definitely score. For his career he has averaged more than one point per two minutes played. And if all that mattered was scoring, Curry would be thought of as at least a future star.
But there is more to the game than scoring. Teams win because they elicit more points from their possessions than their opponent. To utilize possessions efficiently, and to prevent your opponent from doing likewise, a team has to do more than focus on scoring. Rebounds and turnovers matter. And these are two dimensions of the game where Curry does not excel.
The average NBA center will turn the ball over once every 17.3 minutes played. In Curry’s career had has turned the ball over once every 11.8 minutes. So Curry, more often than we should expect, ends a possession for his team without a score.
Beyond turnovers, Curry also has problems rebounding. The average center will capture one rebound every 3.9 minutes played. In Curry’s career he has averaged one rebound every 4.6 minutes. As we note in the book, the lack of rebounding makes it harder to end an opponent’s possession without the opponent scoring, and extend a team’s possession after a missed shot.
If we put the positives and negatives of Curry together, what do we see? For an answer look HERE. When we look at Curry’s Wins Produced per 48 minutes (WP48) and his Wins Produced across his career, we can see that Curry’s weaknesses have more than cancelled out his positives. Curry’s turnovers and lack of rebounding hurt whatever team that employs him at center.
Now it is possible that Isiah will find some magical words to change the tendencies we see in Curry’s game. Perhaps he can get Curry to focus more on rebounding. Perhaps he can get Curry to stop turning the ball over. Of course, other coaches – like Larry Brown — have no doubt tried and clearly failed. Isiah has one year to prove he can do something Brown and the other couldn’t do. But as the data suggests, if Isiah is pinning his hopes on Curry, the betting line is that Curry has a new coach this time next year.