I began responding to a post by Aperacer on Tuesday’s blog entry about Stephen Curry, but the response got so long, I decided to write it as a follow-up entry, instead.

Here’s the response from Aperacer:

In a way Curry had two seasons last year. The first was a disfunctional time with Jackson, rookie mistakes and distrusting team mates. The second half, with Jackson gone and Monte warming up we began too see who he really could be. I know March and April may not be true indications of this coming year but in February his stats were 21.5, 5.3 and 7.3. So add in the extra experience on Team USA + David Lee and I would think 22pts-4rebs-10ast is realistic.

Here is my response:

In February, Curry averaged 39.5 minutes per game. I expect the coaching staff to play the starters fewer minutes this coming season. That month, Curry averaged 17.5 shots per game. I don’t think he takes that many when he’s sharing the ball with not just Ellis but also Lee. I suppose it is possible Curry averages 22 points, but the evidence doesn’t support it. I agree that Curry will probably average about four rebounds.

Where I disagree the most is that Curry will average 10 or more assists per game. Curry averaged 5.9 assists as a rookie. His highest average in a month was 8.1 (April). During his entire rookie season, Curry had only nine games with double-digit assist totals. How does he go from that to averaging 10 in one season? It doesn’t make sense.

In the past nine seasons, only five players have averaged more than 10 assists in a season: Steve Nash, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Jason Kidd and Andre Miller. The biggest difference between those players and Curry is that each of those players dominates the ball in their team offense. Curry doesn’t. He shares the ball with Ellis.

Unless Ellis completely defers to Curry this season, I don’t think Curry has enough control of the offense to average 10 assists per game. Each of the players mentioned in the previous paragraph have much higher assist percentages (the number of a team’s field goals on which an individual player assists) than Curry because they dominate the offense more than Curry is allowed to with the Warriors. Curry assisted on 24 percent of the Warriors’ total field goals last season. Nash’s assist percentage was 50.9, Paul’s was 45.4, Williams’ was 44.5, Kidd’s was 44.0 the last time he averaged 10 assists per game (2007-08 season) and the year Miller averaged more than 10 (2001-02 season), his assist percentage was 49.8. Curry, again, was at 24 percent last season. As long as he shares the court with Ellis, who likes to have the ball in his hands, it is unlikely Curry will get his assist percentage up high enough to average 10 or more assists per game.

Aperacer cites the Team USA experience + playing with David Lee as reason Curry will average 10 assists. The problem with the Team USA reason is Curry isn’t on that team to be a playmaker. He’s there to stretch the defense with his shooting. He had only one assist in the scrimmage in Vegas. I don’t know how that experience is going to make that big a difference in how he runs a team because he won’t be running the show for Team USA.

As far as David Lee goes, Lee averaged 8.5 field goal makes per game last season. Lee’s assisted field goal percentage last season was 64 percent. In other words, 64 percent of Lee’s made field goals came off an assist, which means he had 5.5 assisted field goals per game. Taking into consideration Curry’s assist percentage last season, 24 percent of Lee’s 5.5 assisted field goals is 1.3 field goals. If you calculate it against Lee’s total field goals (8.5), you get 2.04 assists per game. That’s about the kind of increase I see Lee having on Curry’s assist totals, between 1 and 2 assists per game. Add that to his season total and you get between 6.9 and 7.9.

If we look at the top 10 players on the current Warriors roster (which could still change before the season begins) and calculate Curry’s assist percentage against each player’s average field goals and assisted-field-goal-percentage adjusted field goals, it will actually give us a pretty good indication of Curry’s assists per game, or at least what he would have averaged with this roster in his rookie season. The top 10 players on the Warriors roster are:

Starters

PG: Curry (obviously we’ll exclude him from the equation, but include him in the top 10)
SG: Ellis
SF: Dorell Wright
PF: Lee
C: Andris Biedrins

Bench

G: Jannero Pargo
G: Charlie Bell
G/F: Reggie Williams
F: Brandan Wright
C: Dan Gadzuric

Ellis: 9.9 field goals, 3.6 assisted field goals (x36 percent) = 2.4 or 0.8 assisted by Curry (x24 percent)
Wright: 2.7 field goals, 1.9 assisted field goals (x70 percent) = 0.6 or 0.5 assisted by Curry (x24 percent)
Lee: 8.5 field goals, 5.5 assisted field goals (x64 percent) = 2.04 or 1.3 assisted by Curry (x24 percent)
Biedrins: 2.5 field goals, 1.8 assisted field goals (x70 percent) = 0.6 or 0.4 assisted by Curry (x24 percent)
Pargo: 2.1 field goals, 1.2 assisted field goals (x55 percent) = 0.5 or 0.3 assisted by Curry (x24 percent)
Bell: 2.4 field goals, 1.8 assisted field goals (x76 percent) = 0.6 or 0.4 assisted by Curry (x24 percent)
Williams: 5.8 field goals, 2.9 assisted field goals (x51 percent) = 1.4 or 0.7 assisted by Curry (x24 percent)
*Wright: 3.3 field goals, 2.4 assisted field goals (x73 percent) = 0.8 or 0.6 assisted by Curry (x24 percent)
Gadzuric: 1.2 field goals, 0.7 assisted field goals (x54 percent) = 0.28 or 0.16 assisted by Curry (x24 percent)

TOTALS: 9.22 or 5.16 field goals assisted by Curry.

*2008-09 statistics, Wright didn’t play in 2009-10 because of injury

Curry would have averaged between 5.2 assists (low estimate) and 9.2 assists (high estimate) with this roster as a rookie. A number somewhere between those two extremes is probably what we can expect from Curry this coming season as well, barring any major changes to the Warriors’ lineup.

Sources: basketball-reference.com and 82games.com.