- Stephen Curry was drafted 7th overall in the 2009 NBA draft by the Golden State Warriors.
- The 2009 NBA draft took place on June 25, 2009 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
- Six players were drafted ahead of Stephen Curry: Blake Griffin, Hasheem Thabeet, James Harden, Tyreke Evans, Ricky Rubio, and Jonny Flynn.
- Curry was drafted after finishing his junior season playing college basketball for Davidson College.
- Many teams doubted Curry due to his small size and questionable defensive ability coming out of college.
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Stephen Curry’s meteoric rise to superstardom and his reputation as one of the greatest shooters in NBA history make it hard to believe there was a time when his potential was doubted. Curry’s selection in the 2009 NBA draft marked the beginning of his professional basketball journey, one filled with championships, records, and accolades. But when and how did it all start for Steph Curry?
This article will take a comprehensive look back at Stephen Curry’s entrance into the NBA through the 2009 draft. It will examine the build-up and circumstances leading to his selection by the Golden State Warriors with the 7th overall pick. The context surrounding the draft, the teams and players involved, and the initial reactions to Curry’s pick will be thoroughly analyzed. Additionally, the article will evaluate how perceptions of Curry have changed since his rookie year.
Understanding the details of when Stephen Curry was drafted provides perspective on his development into a transformational player. The information presented here aims to give fans and readers a deeper appreciation of Curry’s origins and the early days of his NBA career. Whether a longtime fan or someone newly introduced to Curry, this glimpse into his rookie beginnings will be an intriguing and enlightening read.
When Did the 2009 NBA Draft Take Place?
The 2009 NBA draft, in which Stephen Curry was selected, occurred on June 25, 2009. It was held at the WaMu Theatre at Madison Square Garden in New York City, which has hosted the event annually since 2001.
The draft consisted of two rounds, allowing teams to select a combined total of 60 players. Blake Griffin from Oklahoma was picked 1st overall by the Los Angeles Clippers. Hasheem Thabeet from Connecticut went 2nd to the Memphis Grizzlies, while James Harden from Arizona State was chosen 3rd by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The first round included 30 picks, starting with Griffin at #1 and ending with Omri Casspi from Israel taken by the Sacramento Kings at #23. The remaining 27 selections were made in the second round, concluding with Robert Dozier from Memphis picked 60th by the Miami Heat.
Stephen Curry heard his name called during the first round when the Golden State Warriors used the 7th overall choice to make him the newest member of their team.
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What Pick Was Stephen Curry in the 2009 NBA Draft?
Stephen Curry was selected by the Golden State Warriors with the 7th overall pick in the first round of the 2009 NBA Draft.
The Warriors used their top-10 selection to choose Curry out of Davidson College in North Carolina. He had developed into a standout player over his three collegiate seasons from 2006 to 2009.
Curry was taken after Blake Griffin, Hasheem Thabeet, James Harden, Tyreke Evans, Ricky Rubio, and Jonny Flynn. Griffin, Thabeet, Harden, and Evans were all drafted out of American universities. Ricky Rubio came from Spain to play professionally at age 14 before entering the draft from DKV Joventut. Jonny Flynn had starred for Syracuse University for two years before going pro.
Many draft experts projected Curry as a late lottery or mid-first round pick before the Warriors took him at #7. He had faced doubts regarding his small size for the NBA and questions about his defensive skills. However, Golden State saw immense potential in his versatile offensive game and dead-eye shooting ability.
What Led to Stephen Curry Entering the 2009 NBA Draft?
Several key factors during Stephen Curry’s amateur career paved the way for him to declare for the 2009 NBA Draft:
- Stellar college success at Davidson College: Curry played for Davidson from 2006 to 2009, setting the all-time scoring record and leading the school to the NCAA Elite 8 in 2008. His rise to stardom put him firmly on the radar of NBA teams.
- National attention and awards: Curry won the prestigious John R. Wooden Award in 2009 after being named NCAA Player of the Year by multiple outlets. This high recognition made him a coveted prospect.
- Strong junior season: Curry averaged 28.6 points, 5.6 assists, and 2.5 steals during 2008-2009, further boosting his draft stock. He scored over 30 points 14 times.
- Lack of eligibility: After three years at Davidson, Curry had no college eligibility left. This prompted him to make the jump to the NBA rather than returning for a final season.
- Feedback from NBA experts: Reports indicated Curry received word he would be a high draft selection, likely in the top 10 picks. This reassured him it was the right time to go pro.
Based on his phenomenal amateur career and draft projections, Curry decided to capitalize on the opportunity and declared for the 2009 NBA Draft on March 23, 2009.
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What Made Stephen Curry a Sought-After Player in 2009?
Although some questioned his viability in the NBA, various attributes made Stephen Curry a highly sought-after prospect heading into the 2009 draft:
- Elite shooting ability: Curry established himself as one of the top pure shooters in college hoops, with NBA range from 3-point territory. His quick release and accuracy were clearly translatable skills.
- Scoring instincts: He demonstrated a natural ability to get buckets, with excellent body control around the rim and a great feel for creating space from defenders. Curry averaged over 26 points his last two college seasons.
- Ballhandling and playmaking: As a point guard, Curry exhibited advanced handles and court vision that could potentially translate to good distribution skills at the NBA level.
- Clutch factor: Curry took over games at Davidson, hitting pivotal shots and proving incredibly productive in high-leverage moments. His crunch-time abilities were hard to ignore.
- High basketball IQ: Seen as an intelligent and instinctive player, Curry showed the ability to read defenses and make smart decisions on the floor beyond his years.
- Character and work ethic: Known as a high-character competitor, Curry’s commitment to honing his craft through tireless work ethic was also attractive to NBA franchises.
These strengths convinced the Warriors and other teams that Curry’s talent outweighed any perceived limitations.
What Concerns Existed Around Steph Curry Ahead of the 2009 NBA Draft?
Although enticing, Stephen Curry’s prospects of transitioning smoothly into the NBA came with some notable concerns that gave teams pause leading up to the 2009 draft:
- Small size: At 6’3″ and 185 pounds out of college, Curry had a slender build that raised doubts about his durability and ability to physically match up at the pro level.
- Defense: Curry was not known as a good defender at Davidson. His mediocre lateral quickness and lack of strength raised questions about his defensive potential in the NBA.
- Overreliance on shooting: Some evaluators felt Curry’s shot selection was suspect and that he too heavily depended on outside shooting rather than diversifying his offensive arsenal.
- Competition level: Having played in the Southern Conference, Curry faced doubts about whether he could replicate his college production against tougher defenses night after night in the NBA.
- Passing ability: As primarily a score-first guard, Curry’s capacity to effectively run an NBA offense and distribute the ball was unclear to some prior to the draft.
- Turnovers: Curry’s high turnover rate in college was a red flag for teams looking for someone to value possessions and make good decisions with the ball.
These areas of concern made some hesitate to draft Curry very high in 2009 until the Warriors took the gamble.
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How Did the Warriors Make the Decision to Draft Steph Curry 7th Overall?
The Warriors approached the 2009 draft aiming to find a franchise cornerstone player. With the #7 pick, they lucked into the opportunity to select Stephen Curry:
- Pre-draft workouts impressed: Curry’s shooting and ballhandling during workouts convinced the Warriors he could successfully make the leap to the NBA.
- Fit with personnel: The Warriors saw Curry fitting perfectly alongside recent acquisition Monta Ellis in their backcourt. They formed an undersized but dynamic duo.
- Decline of other prospects: Rubio not entering the draft and underwhelming workouts by Jonny Flynn and Jordan Hill cleared the way for Curry to rise on the Warriors’ draft board.
- Taking the best player available: With no glaring positional needs in 2009, Golden State opted to simply draft Curry as the most talented player left.
- Rookie potential: The Warriors believed Curry could contribute meaningful minutes immediately as a rookie rather than being a project.
- Leader and culture fit: Scouts praised Curry’s character and work ethic as being exactly what the rebuilding Warriors required to change their losing culture.
Based on both skill and intangibles, the Warriors saw Curry as the ideal selection and didn’t hesitate to make him their newest star player.
How Did Draft Experts Grade the Warriors Selection of Steph Curry in 2009?
The Warriors’ choice to draft Stephen Curry 7th overall in 2009 drew mixed reactions from draft analysts at the time:
- Reach or perfect fit? Some called Curry a reach at #7 and a questionable fit paired with Monta Ellis, while others called his fit perfect and praised the pick.
- Defensive concerns: Many experts cited Curry’s defensive weaknesses as a red flag and worried how he’d hold up in the NBA.
- Upside doubted: There was skepticism that Curry’s ceiling wasn’t high enough to warrant such a high selection given his physical limitations.
- Should have traded down: Some analysts suggested the Warriors could have traded down and still landed Curry later in the lottery while acquiring other assets.
- Liked the scoring potential: Experts universally praised Curry’s offensive game, range, and scoring ability. Most saw him as one of the draft’s premier shooters.
- Intangibles valued: His basketball IQ, competitiveness, and work ethic were cited as strengths by evaluators despite his other question marks.
The polarization on Curry as a prospect was reflected in the mixed analyses of the Warriors’ selection immediately after the 2009 draft.
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How Did Steph Curry’s Early Career Vindicate Him as the 7th Overall Pick?
After initial doubts, Stephen Curry’s early career quickly vindicated the Warriors’ choice to draft him 7th overall:
- Historic rookie year: Curry averaged 17.5 points and 5.9 assists per game his rookie season on his way to finishing 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting.
- ** Member of All-Rookie First Team:** His fantastic first year lead to Curry being named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team.
- NBA’s Most Improved Player in 2014-2015: Curry validated his upside by winning Most Improved honors after averaging 24 points and 8.5 assists per game.
- Rise to elite PG status: He established himself as one of the NBA’s premier point guards within his first few seasons.
- Led playoff runs: Curry spearheaded playoff appearances and upset wins for the Warriors beginning in 2012-2013.
- Scoring champion in 2015-2016: His evolution into a ruthless scorer culminated in Curry’s first scoring title, averaging 30.1 points per game.
- Back-to-back MVPs in 2014-2015 & 2015-2016: Winning unanimous MVP honors validated Curry as one of the NBA’s truly elite players.
Curry rapidly ascended from questionable pick to bonafide superstar, proving he was well worth the #7 selection by Golden State.
How Has Perception of the 2009 Draft Changed Given Steph Curry’s Success?
With the benefit of hindsight, Stephen Curry’s success has changed perceptions of other players and teams involved in the 2009 NBA Draft:
- Minnesota missed out: The Timberwolves drafting Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn before Curry at #5 and #6 is now seen as a catastrophic mistake.
- Warriors got franchise star: Curry blossoming into a perennial All-Star and franchise centerpiece validated the Warriors’ selection despite doubts at the time.
- Still a stacked draft: Blake Griffin and James Harden developing into stars has meant the 2009 draft is still regarded as having a highly talented top half.
- Darko over Melo no longer worst pick: The Clippers taking Michael Olowokandi #1 over Vince Carter in 1998 was long considered the worst draft pick until Curry fell to #7.
- Other top picks forgotton: Hasheem Thabeet (#2) and Jonny Flynn (#6) had short, nondescript NBA careers after being taken ahead of Curry.
Curry’s meteoric rise has cemented the perception that passing on him in the 2009 draft was a monumental error of judgement by other lottery teams.
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Over a decade later, the reality that Stephen Curry slipped to the Warriors at #7 overall in 2009 remains hard to fathom. Yet that’s precisely what happened at the NBA Draft in New York City that June. Golden State saw past doubts about Curry’s game being too one-dimensional and gambled that his shooting and intangibles could translate to stardom. Their faith was rewarded with one of the biggest draft steals in NBA history. Curry evolved from questionable pick to all-time great player right before our eyes, forever changing the arc and perceptions of the 2009 draft class.