What if Stephen Curry was a Knick?

Feb 7, 2015; New York, NY, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) talks to Spike Lee before the start of game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 7, 2015; New York, NY, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) talks to Spike Lee before the start of game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports /

Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors are visiting the New York Knicks in the historic Madison Square Garden. With the 8th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, the Knicks wanted to select Curry, but the Warriors took him right before. What would have happened if they didn’t?

Stephen Curry loves the big stage.

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When the lights are brightest, no.30 steps up in breathtaking fashion. No arena in North American sports is like Madison Square Garden, the mecca of basketball. And Curry seems to always do something spectacular on the Knicks’ home floor. It can be argued that his 54 point performance in MSG four years ago was his breakout performance that put him on the national radar.

He almost had the opportunity to do it everyday.

Prior to the 2009 Draft, Curry’s father, Dell Curry, and his agent, Jeff Austin, did not allow the Davidson Wildcat workout for the Warriors. In fact, they didn’t allow Curry to work out for several teams. They had their hearts set on the Kicks, who sat one spot below the Warriors at eight.

Austin told then-Warriors General Manager Larry Riley, “I like you a lot and respect you a lot, but don’t take Steph. This is not the right place for him.” Riley, who saw Curry play in person at Davidson, didn’t need a pre-draft workout. He was sold. And even with the pleading and the separation, Riley took the guy he wanted after the Minnesota Timberwolves took two point guards before him.

And the rest is history.

But what if the Warriors decided that Curry’s camp’s reservations were enough to overlook him for Jordan Hill or DeMar Derozan? Steph Curry is the hottest show on the planet and that would only grow if he was in the Big Apple. But would Curry have reached elite status as a member of the Knicks? Maybe not.

Assuming Carmelo Anthony still forces his way out of Denver to his hometown Knicks, then Curry would probably have had a hard time blossoming into the superstar we know him to be. Already an All-Star, Anthony has been the leader for the Knicks from day one. One of the league’s top scorers for years, it would be very difficult for a score-first point guard to thrive. Similar to Curry’s struggles with Monta Ellis in Golden State, Anthony was supposed to be the savior for the Knicks and everything ran through him.

Even if Curry was handed the keys to the team, the Knicks haven’t been able to add pieces to complement their star. Many of their draft picks and free agent signings have not panned out. Part of Curry’s success can be attributed to the healthy, stable environment Joe Lacob and Bob Myers have built around the star. Draft picks like Klay Thompson and Draymond Green and signings like Andre Iguodala have helped elevate Curry. The Knicks have had short term success with players like Landry Fields, Jeremy Lin, and Amar’e Stoudemire, but they have failed to build continuity with a strong core.

Furthermore, the New York media can make a good player sound great. Anthony was presented as being on the same level as LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. Lin was the best point guard for a couple of weeks. And Latvian sensation Kristaps Porzingis is being hailed as the next Dirk Nowitzki. So Curry’s brand would probably be bigger (as hard as it is to believe) and his stardom would have been apparent earlier.

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But the people of New York want results now.

And Curry’s growth has required patience. His ankle injuries are well-documented. Lacob and the whole Warriors organization stuck with their vision, even during the hardest times. They didn’t abandon Curry. They allowed him to get healthy and work through the growing pains that come along with handing a young player a franchise. While the rewards of a market like New York are great, it’s possible that the fans and media would not have chosen to stick by Curry.

In reality, there’s no way to truly predict what would have happened. I think it’s reasonable to assume Curry would not be the MVP that he is right now. The Warriors have created a successful situation, meant to elevate Curry. In New York, he would not have been the face of the franchise like he is in Golden State.

Curry’s agent told Riley that Golden State wasn’t the right place for him. Ironically, it’s become abundantly clear that it was the perfect place for him.