The court was Stephen Curry's on New Year's Eve against the Philadelphia 76ers. Monta Ellis was attending his grandmother's funeral in Mississippi, and Curry was set to be the main scorer for the Warriors.
Curry finished with 21 points on 9 of 15 shooting and looked less like a go-to player and more of someone attempting to be just that. David Lee would be the one to shoot the ball 24 times in that game. Naturally, the Warriors were run out of their own gym by a 76ers squad that seemed to have it all figured out.
But Curry is not a go-to scorer, and it was wrong to put him in that situation and surround him with that much hype. We can date that back to the Warriors drafting him.
Yes, the loss of Ellis in that game hurts, which is the case whenever a team loses their majority scorer for a game, but many expected more than forced shots and awkward turnovers from Curry when the lights were shining on him.
For that reason, it is time we retire any idea of Curry becoming what many thought he could be in the NBA, which was a lights-out shooter that could potentially lead a team. That worked for him at Davidson College. On the Warriors, that role is Ellis' and Curry is just his wingman.
If the 23-year-old wants to take the next step in the NBA, he will need to accept the role of the second option and play like such.
Far too often, we see Curry forcing shots and having the ball in his hands for way too long. His name and the reputation that comes with it may suggest he should have the ball in his hands, but his style of play that translated in the NBA suggests something totally different.
Curry's role should be off the ball and less of the man with the ball in his hands. We all know he can shoot like not many other players in this league, but it is he and coach Mark Jackson's responsibility to set him up to succeed and utilize that skill in the NBA. He can play point guard well, but his game is more suited to a Richard Hamilton-style of play, and it would not take much to develop him into such a player.
Less time with the ball in his hands, but the same amount of shots per game.
For the Warriors to succeed this season, Ellis needs the ball in his hands because good things happen when it does. Curry is not at that level yet.
Meanwhile, let him play the role we know he can play: Maker of shots.
Adding in ball-handling duties and a leader of the team will hopefully come with experience, but right now he does not have it. So why does it appear like it is being forced on him?
The Warriors need to accentuate Curry's skills and abilities, and only then will this team play winning basketball.