Spacing. Over the past few years, variations of that word were employed constantly when discussing the Sixers woes on the offensive end of the floor. This team doesn’t have enough spacing. Too many bodies are clogging the paint and there’s simply no space. More shooters are required to space the floor.
We’ve heard virtually none of that chatter this season as the Sixers found a rhythm on offense that complimented their already elite defense. The result has been a steady stream of wins and a team that has its eyes firmly set on a championship. Even the temporary loss of their MVP candidate Joel Embiid hasn’t stopped the Sixers from winning six of their last seven games.
Deadly sniper Seth Curry is the primary reason the Sixers have managed to achieve the spacing they so needed on offense. We’ll dive into Curry’s numbers this season and the way his mere presence impacts the Sixers offense below.
Curry by the Numbers
Before we get into the season statistics of Seth Curry, it’s important to note that he is a historically great shooter. While his brother Steph Curry is regarded as the consensus best shooter of all time, Seth Curry actually has the second highest career three-point percentage at 44.1%, trailing only Steve Kerr (45.4%). The Sixers knew they were receiving otherworldly shooting when they exchanged the more defensive-oriented Josh Richardson for Curry in a trade with the Mavericks over the off-season.
As a Sixer this season, Curry has averaged more playing time (29.6 minutes a game) than he has at any point in his career. As a result, he is posting career high averages in both points per game (12.9) and assists per game (2.9). With Curry, it’s all about the long range. This season he is attempting 4.7 threes per contest and hitting 43.2% of them. He’s always been a terrific free throw shooter, but he’s even managed to hike up his percentage in that category this season. His 91.8% from the charity stripe has been good for 8th in the entire league (ironically Josh Richardson is actually fifth in the league in this category).
Arguably more important than his long-range sharpshooting outlined above, is the resultant spacing that his presence on the court provides for the Sixers offense. An open three point shot from Seth Curry is analytically akin to a layup when you factor in the amount of points generated. As a result, defenders can’t shade off him to help double-team players like Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, who both routinely abuse individual defenders in the paint. This was an element sorely missed last season, as Josh Richardson couldn’t shake a shooting slump the entire year and opposing teams were happy to give him an open outside shot.
In certain lineups the Sixers even feature a trio of three-point snipers (Seth Curry, Tobias Harris, Danny Green) alongside Simmons and Embiid. Provided all three are hitting their shots, which is admittedly a tough ask, this lineup is an absolute matchup nightmare as opposing teams will be unable to send double-teams toward Embiid from anywhere but Simmons, who has consistently displayed how effective he can be as an off-ball cutter.
Curry’s impact on the Sixers offensive spacing has shown that Simmons may not need to develop an outside shot for this team to thrive. Seth Curry is currently day-to-day as he nurses a left ankle sprain but the Sixers will be counting on his red-hot shooting moving forward.