Big O: The Key for Stopping Curry? Defense.
Oscar Robertson is one of the all-time greats of basketball and now we can’t listen to a word he says, because he has lost his mind. In a recent interview with Mike & Mike, the Big O said about Curry, “If I’ve got a guy who’s great shooting the ball outside, don’t you want to extend your defense out a little bit?” the 77-year-old Big O said during a phone interview, “I just don’t think coaches today in basketball understand the game of basketball. They don’t know anything about defenses. They don’t know what people are doing on the court. They talk about analytical basketball and stuff like that.” When asked if Curry was the greatest shooter he had seen, he suggested that Curry’s success was a product of the current state of the NBA’s poor defense. He then suggested Adrian Smith’s name as someone he viewed as a great shooter.
Couple of things to prove just how in tune the Big O is with the current NBA and how mediocre Steph Curry really is.
First, if anyone would be an expert about great defense, it would be the Big O. In the 1961-62 season when Oscar averaged a triple-double, the NBA team scoring average was 118.8 points per game compared to this season’s average of 102.1 (with a 3 point line). The defenses were way better in the 60’s when his Cincinnati Royals gave up a meager 121.3 point per game. The Royals were a great example of really getting into guys “if someone took an outside shot and made it.” We should look to this 60’s style defense as a model of how to stop pretty good shooters like Steph Curry. I’m sure that’s what the Big O did in practice when old Adrian Smith started to heat up from outside. Afterall, Adrian was a real dead-eye from long range. He shot a red hot 43.0% from the floor over his career and shot an unbelievable 46.4% in a single season. In Smith’s final year of his career, the ABA had just introduced the 3 point-line and Smith shot an amazing 18.2% on 2-of-11. He was simply unstoppable from deep! Curry was a pedestrian 12-of-16 from three in his last game. Maybe one day he’ll be able to really sink ’em from deep like Smith, a real pro.
Red Auerbach, a great coach of yesteryear, was right. “Basketball is like war in that offensive weapons are developed first, and it always takes a while for the defense to catch up.” One thing is certain, the NBA-world has never seen an offensive weapon like Steph Curry (unless of course you count the likes of Adrian Smith) and the only question is how long it will take modern defenses of the NBA to learn how to really “D him up” by picking him up at half or three-quarter court the way that only the Big O and players in the 60’s knew how to do it.