ESPN’s David Thorpe puts Warriors rookie point guard Stephen Curry on his list of rookies on the rise in his latest Rookie Watch. Read the article here. You might need Insider to read the article.

Here’s what Thorpe wrote about Curry:

Most draft experts considered Curry to be the best shooter in the class, and he’s certainly lived up to the hype recently. His 5-for-8 from 3 to help beat the Bulls on Martin Luther King Day pushed his monthly 3-point percentage to 58 percent (18 of 31). Almost as impressive is Curry’s assist rate, which hovers around 24 even though he isn’t the Warriors’ primary ball handler. A month ago, it seemed unlikely that he would make the Rookie Challenge during All-Star Weekend. But now, if he fails to make it, the game will not be as good. He is a very deserving candidate.

It’s funny that at the beginning of the season, so many were worried about Curry’s shot when he was shooting under 35 percent during preseason. It didn’t make much sense at the time because Curry was such an electric scorer and long-distance gunner in college. It stood to reason that part of his game would translate to the NBA. Here’s what I wrote about it back in October:

Curry was a fantastic shooter and scorer at Davidson. But since he started playing against NBA (or semi-NBA) talent, he’s been horrific. He shot 32 percent in the Vegas Summer League. Prior to Thursday’s game, he was shooting about 34 percent in preseason games. That’s not good. But Don Nelson had an interesting quote following tonight’s game about Curry’s shooting. “All the concerns I had have been eliminated, and the one thing that I didn’t worry at all about was the shooting stroke. So he hasn’t been able to shoot the ball. But he’s one of the best shooters in college basketball for as long as he played at Davidson. We assume that’s just going to come around.” Good point. Curry was fantastically fun to watch when he was in college. He could create his shot against anybody and he had range beyond the NBA 3-point line. So, Nelson is probably right. Give Curry the minutes and he’ll probably find his shooting stroke.

For the season, Thorpe has Curry ranked fifth overall in his rookie rankings, behind Sacramento’s Tyreke Evans, Milwaukee’s Brandon Jennings, San Antonio’s DeJuan Blair and Oklahoma City’s James Harden. I would rank Curry second behind Evans. Blair and Harden don’t play enough to rank higher than Curry. And unlike Jennings, who hasn’t been able to match his fantastic start to the season (check out his month-to-month stats here), Curry has improved each month. He averaged 9.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.3 steals in November. In December, he improved his scoring (13.5), rebounding (4.4) and steals (2.3), but his assists went down (3.7). He has been particularly impressive in January, putting up 17.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.9 steals while shooting 51 percent from the field and 58 percent from distance.

I think it’s safe to say that Curry is a keeper.

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