Over the next few weeks, we’ll be profiling every player currently on the Sixers’ roster ahead of training camp, which begins on September 28.
Contract status: Under contract for two years, $16.74 million (in other words, one of the best deals in the NBA)
Last year’s draft day Seth Curry trade was a brilliant move to help get Daryl Morey’s tenure in Philly underway. The Sixers dealt a second-round pick and Josh Richardson (whose tendencies to hesitate as a shooter and over dribble made him an awkward fit) for Curry, one of the NBA’s best shooters who could fit seamlessly with the team’s stars. It looked like a home run trade right away for the Sixers, and as time went by that only became more clear.
It didn’t take long for Curry to tick all the boxes the Sixers wanted him to. He added elite shooting (including a touch of much-needed ability off movement and off the bounce), some complementary ball-handling and playmaking, and quickly developed fluid chemistry with Joel Embiid in dribble hand-offs and their two-man game. Curry finished the season averaging 12.5 points and 2.7 assists per game, burying 45 percent of his three-pointers with an excellent true shooting percentage of 60.7.
The one main challenge Curry faced in his first year as a Sixer was a battle with COVID-19. He tested positive on January 7 and missed seven games, and shared later in the year that getting his energy and fitness back to where it used to be took some time. While Curry can occasionally hesitate to launch as many triples as he should do anyway, his spell with COVID clearly had an impact on his energy levels and how able he was to hunt for more shots.
“Some days I feel good, some days I’m just sluggish,” Curry explained in early February. “... Every day, I feel a little bit different. It’s a work in progress trying to up my routine and... up my workouts off the floor to try to get back in game shape. But I think every night I learned where I am at as far as game experience. Every time I get on the floor for a game, I feel like I learned more about my body and what I miss.”
As the season wound down, though, Curry started heating up, being more aggressive, and launching threes at a higher rate. Then when the playoffs came, he went on a sensational offensive run.
Curry exploded. He averaged 18.8 points per game, shot 57.8 percent from the floor and hit a ridiculous 50.6 percent of his threes on 6.8 attempts a night. Nearly 20 points per game with a 72.7 true shooting percentage? You can hardly ask for more than that. Curry was as aggressive as he needed to be, provided a bit more punch off the dribble, shot the lights out, and helped keep the Sixers’ offense alive at times. Two standout 30-plus-point games highlighted his efforts.
The one downside to Curry’s playoff performance was his defense in the second round against Atlanta. Specifically how Kevin Huerter went at Curry as the series progressed, targeting him in more one-on-one and post-up situations. As many good things as Curry does, and as much as he’ll compete to the best of his ability defensively, this is just unavoidable against certain teams — like squads with as much firepower and wing talent as the Hawks. Plus, Danny Green’s absence hurt the Sixers, taking away a solid defender with much more size and length to compete on the ball than Curry.
But overall, Curry deserves nothing but high praise for how he stepped up.
Season outlook: Like many players on the team, Seth Curry’s future could be impacted by the inevitable Ben Simmons trade. While Curry should be someone the team is keeping (they shouldn’t need to add much value to Simmons in a trade any time soon if they’re aren’t landing a star, and Curry is a great fit on a great contract), his role could change. If the Sixers acquire a new starting point guard and lose a load of size and defense (for example, let’s say they add Collin Sexton), it’s hard to start Curry. Especially in the playoffs when top offenses will have no trouble targeting such a small backcourt.
In this scenario, moving someone like Matisse Thybulle into the starting lineup makes more sense (with the spacing concern of Thybulle + Simmons also being removed), while Curry can still play plenty of minutes and add offensive punch to various lineups from a sixth-man-type role.
Ultimately, whatever happens with a Simmons trade and Curry’s potential to start or come off the bench, the sharpshooter can be relied upon to give the Sixers what they need from him. Curry is one of the best value players in the entire league at just over $8 million a year, with the ability to provide a lot of offensive value and complement any roster the Sixers assemble.