NBA / Oct 26, 2012 / 3:00 pm

Why A Huge NBA Draft Bust’s New Role Is Better Than You Think

Eddy Curry

Eddy Curry

Eddy Curry wasn’t good enough to be San Antonio’s 15th man, but he will start tonight for his new team, Dallas, in its preseason finale. There’s a good chance when the Mavericks face the Lakers in the season opener on Oct. 30 — exactly one day before the 11th anniversary of his NBA debut — he could start opposite Dwight Howard. If it’s startling to realize Curry could be even a spot NBA starter until Chris Kaman and Brandan Wright return to the Mavericks’ lineup from injury, there are 10 seasons of underwhelming performances to act as evidence. Is it time, however, to realize that Curry may be the man for the (small) job in Dallas?

It’s tempting, but it’s not enough to set the bar so low that barely a hop should wow us when it comes to Curry’s development. Now 29, the former fourth pick is such a draft bust you get the feeling even Adam Morrison gawks at Curry’s bungled career like someone driving around a car crash. On a different day we could debate what constitutes a revival for a former draft bust such as Darko Milicic, Morrison or Curry; what accomplishment is needed to start calling a player serviceable? Is it a maturing leadership role such as the one Keyon Dooling grew into in Boston and Orlando, or could it happen from just hanging around long enough and not giving up, like Kwame Brown?

Instead, we know this in the moment, so it bears discussion rather than Curry’s “legacy” right now: Any role he will play will be small with Mavs’ frontcourt players injured, and it could grow even smaller once they return, but he’s still a good candidate for the job — not simply the only one. This is no dream scenario for GM Donnie Nelson to plug in a player who hasn’t learned any bit of the Mavericks’ system until five days before the regular-season opener, and yet, to dismiss Curry as the worst possible solution isn’t exactly looking at his results in head-to-head matchups against opponents, either. How about looking at what we know he’s done against opponents he could face in the season’s first weeks.

Against Dwight Howard and the Lakers on Oct. 30:

Against Al Jefferson and the Jazz on Oct. 31:

Against Brendan Haywood and the Bobcats on Nov. 3:

Against LaMarcus Aldridge and the Trail Blazers on Nov. 5:

Against rookie Jonas Valanciunas and Andrea Bargnani and the Raptors on Nov. 7:

Against old friend Tyson Chandler and the Knicks on Nov. 9:

In all those matchups he either is close to matching or exceeds his opponents. There are caveats galore here, from who he could actually guard to the smaller sample sizes. And yet, most of those results came in his lean years, and by lean I mean the years he actually ballooned in weight and becoming more of a literal anchor on his team’s roster day by day. Coming off what was reported to be a productive camp in San Antonio, he could be beneficial to rebound and put back buckets on offensive boards. Will he stick in Dallas beyond the return of Rick Carlisle’s starters? That’s up for debate. He’s shown that in stretches he can hang with the players he’ll be facing in the first weeks, and if that’s all Dallas needs of him, for once he might just be the man for the job.

H/t Basketball Reference for stats

What do you think?

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