Concerning Seth Curry Development Could Ruin the Nets’ Championship Hopes

The past couple of months have been a whirlwind for Brooklyn Nets guard Seth Curry. Aside from being included in the Ben Simmons-James Harden blockbuster trade and moving from Philadelphia to Brooklyn, Curry has also played through consistent ankle issues.

The latter point has risen to the forefront in recent weeks.

As the Nets try to build momentum for the NBA play-in tournament, Curry is having more and more difficulty playing on his banged-up ankle. With Ben Simmons’ status largely unknown and Brooklyn lacking legitimate floor-spacers, the Nets need Curry on the floor.

The veteran guard will try to gut it out. But the way Curry describes playing through pain makes it seem as though he will struggle to stay in a steady rhythm and impact games going forward. That’s terrible news for Brooklyn.

Seth Curry will not have surgery to address the ankle injury

Curry has missed 10 games since the end of January because of a bad ankle. It’s an issue that has popped up numerous times as of late. But the 31-year-old has no plans to shut it down.

Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News reported that Curry will not undergo surgery on his left ankle now or at the end of the season. However, he does hope to stay off it for a month, though he cannot afford to do that now with the Nets trying to build momentum for the playoffs.

The pain hasn’t rendered Curry totally useless.

He scored 17 points on 5-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc and was +20 in a March 26 win over the Miami Heat. He even logged 29 minutes the following night on the second leg of a back-to-back and, despite a poor shooting night, drilled a clutch three-pointer late in Tuesday’s win over the Detroit Pistons.

Still, while Curry is producing for the Nets, his processes are all out of whack.

Curry admitted to the struggles of playing hurt

Brooklyn Nets guard Seth Curry warms up before an NBA game against the Charlotte Hornets in March 2022
Seth Curry warms up before a game between Brooklyn Nets and Charlotte Hornets on March 27, 2022 | Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Although Seth Curry has been active, he doesn’t feel the same as he did before the injury.

Curry acknowledged that in order to manage the stress on his ankle, he hasn’t been able to put in the same amount of effort on the practice court. He also admitted, via the New York Daily News, that he’s rarely playing without pain.

“Yeah, most of the time, yeah, honestly. We’re doing a good job of trying to manage it on off days and getting the proper amount of treatment.”

–Seth Curry on his ankle injury and playing through pain

Curry also said he cannot go through the pregame routine he’s typically accustomed to when fully healthy. That reflects a possible pitfall for the Nets.

The sharpshooter has slotted in for the injured Joe Harris as a guy who spaces the floor and knocks down perimeter jumpers. But an underrated component of Curry’s game is his ability to work around ball screens and pull up for mid-range looks off the dribble. He can attack closeouts and make plays off the bounce, including finding baseline cutters for duck-ins at the rim.

However, Curry doesn’t quite have the same effectiveness considering his current limitations. He’s not as mobile with the ball in his hands and might have a more challenging time getting the proper lift on his bad ankle, especially late in games. Similarly, lateral movement should prove difficult on the defensive end, which isn’t the best considering he’s already a bit of a lackluster defender.

Unfortunately, Brooklyn does not have other options. It needs to keep playing Curry. That also adds to the re-injury risk.

What if the Nets can’t strike a proper balance?

The Nets still demand so much of Curry because they get lackluster production from other backcourt players.

Goran Dragic has been a viable playmaker since signing with Brooklyn in late February. But he’s shooting just 37.8% from the field and 24.4% from beyond the arc. Patty Mills has fallen off a cliff since the All-Star break, hitting on just 28.3 of his three-pointers in the last 10 games.

Brooklyn can’t rely on Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to supply all the scoring and expect overwhelming output on the perimeter. As Nets head coach Steve Nash suggested, the team “really” needs Curry as a catch-and-shoot option and someone who can supply added ball-handling.

But the issue is two-folded.

If Brooklyn limits Curry’s minutes, and it sort of has to, then Mills and Dragic receive more run. That’s not ideal, given how poorly those guys have shot the ball.

Conversely, if the Nets lean on Curry and need him extensively in closing lineups, there’s always the chance he reinjures the bad ankle. Such an outcome is far worse than Curry playing even at around 60%.

Handling Curry’s ankle injury is a brutally tricky balance for the Nets to strike, and it represents yet another hurdle in a season that has likely provided one too many for Brooklyn to overcome.

Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.

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