Q&A: Seth Curry on his breakout season, Ben Simmons, his long-term future and more

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Philadelphia 76ers guard Seth Curry is in the midst of a breakout campaign and is the only player with a 50/40/90 shooting split currently this season.

In addition, Curry ranks fourth in three-point percentage (.465) and told HoopsHype he has his eyes on participating in the NBA three-point contest at All-Star Weekend.

Curry spoke with HoopsHype over the phone and discussed what has led to his breakout season, his NBA journey behind the scenes to get here, how the absence of Ben Simmons is viewed in the locker room, Philadelphia’s chances to compete in the East, and his long-term future.

Have you felt underrated as a player coming up the ranks in college and coming into the NBA?

Curry: I wasn’t recruited highly. I wasn’t drafted. It took me a long time to get to this point, so I was a little underrecruited and undervalued. At every level I’ve played at, I felt like I’ve had to earn my way, and I did it with production.

In your first two seasons, you got a cup of coffee in the NBA before signing with Sacramento. Did you contemplate going overseas during that time?

Curry: I did. When I went undrafted, I kind of set aside a plan to go the 10-day route, the G League route, or the non-guaranteed deals the first two years. If I didn’t get a guaranteed deal after my first two seasons, I knew I had the option to go overseas and probably make a lot of money and play over there. I gave myself a two-year window to try to stick in the NBA and get a guaranteed deal. Luckily, that last Summer League before that two-year window was up, I signed a guaranteed deal in Sacramento.

Was there a point where you doubted if you’d stick in the NBA early in your career?

Curry: I didn’t doubt myself. I doubted whether I’d get an opportunity or not. I knew playing in the G League and measuring myself up against the people in my draft class that I was as good if not better than a lot of the guys drafted in that first round I was playing against in the G League. I knew if I got an opportunity to play in the league and show what I could do at that level, I would stick and have an NBA career. If I had any doubts, it wasn’t myself. It was the opportunity because the hardest thing to do as an undrafted player is to get a chance to play and show that you actually can play and show the stuff you’re doing in the G League can translate over to the NBA.

Did anything change when you went to Dallas that allowed you to cement yourself as an NBA player?

Curry: I got more of an opportunity to play and got lucky. I knew the second half of the year in Sacramento when I got to play a good amount of games, and I had a consistent stretch of good play that I was an NBA player. When I got to Dallas, I got lucky with some injuries on the team, and I was able to play a lot of minutes as soon as I got there. Coach (Rick) Carlisle was a great offensive mind and a great coach who put me in good situations to do what I’m best at as far as scoring, playing with the ball in my hands in pick-and-roll (action), and playing without the ball. It was a good fit for me.

What’s it been like for you in Philly during your time here?

Curry: It’s been good. I’ve gotten more of an opportunity to start full-time and play with other great players on a contending team that fits my abilities as far as being a two-guard who can play with the ball in my hands in pick-and-roll and space the floor for guys like Joel (Embiid), last year Ben (Simmons), and Tobias (Harris). It’s a good opportunity for me. They kind of really need what I do specifically, so it’s been a great role for me, and I’ve been able to take advantage of it.

What’s led to your breakout season and your shooting numbers so far without Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid out at times?

Curry: I think I’m a pretty versatile player. I can catch and shoot, stretch the floor, play off guys who draw a lot of attention like Joel and Ben. When those guys are out, I feel like I can play in the pick-and-roll. My mind-range game is pretty good. I think I can put the ball on the floor and score. I just pride myself on being able to do a lot of different things offensively and taking good shots.

What goals did you have for yourself this season? Any accolades or participating in the three-point contest?

Curry: I don’t have any individual goals for statistics. I want to be efficient and shoot the ball at a high clip. You brought up the three-point contest. I feel like I’ve got to add one of those to the mantel to be a part of the (Curry) family. Hopefully, I can get one of those before my career is over. Steph (Curry) already has two of them. If I get the invite, I’m going to go to as many as possible, so I can add one to the trophy case.

How’ve you guys weathered the storm without Embiid and Simmons at times so far?

Curry: The way we played earlier in the season was good basketball. We shared the ball and have guys who can score all up and down our roster. Lately, we haven’t really been weathering the storm at all. We kind of got worn down with the Covid situation and the injuries. The competition has picked up a bit. We’ve got to get back to the way we were playing earlier in the season with moving the ball and getting good shots as a team and get guys back in the process.

Without Ben Simmons, what are the expectations you and the team have this season?

Curry: I feel like we have enough to compete with anybody in the league. I think we showed that early in the season. Having a guy like Joel out there and the complimentary pieces we have with the attention he draws and us on the defensive end, it’s good enough to be a contender in this league. We’ve just got to get better as the season goes along and figure out who we are with what we have on the team. We should be able to compete with anybody.

How’s it been dealing with the Ben Simmons situation for you and the team in the locker room?

Ben Simmons
Ben Simmons

Curry: Honestly, it’s been pretty normal. He hasn’t really been around the team at all, so it’s not like it’s been a distraction or anything. It’s kind of like he’s been out and not here. We know who we have on our team to start the season. Obviously, if he comes back, we’re going to integrate him. He’s been part of the team for a long time, so it shouldn’t be that hard.

What’s your view on not having Simmons so far this season?

Curry: It’s unfortunate. I just view it as like a guy who got a long injury. I focus on who we have on the team, who comes to practice every day, who’s at shootaround, and how we’re preparing for the games. It’s unfortunate he’s not with us because he’s obviously a big part of the team and a great player who can help us win even more, but everybody has their own situation in this league. It’s a business. I know he’s going through some stuff, just like teams go through stuff throughout the season. He deals with the consequences of the stuff he does with the fines or whatever it is. It goes both ways.

Have you spoken to Simmons personally?

Curry: Not much. I spoke to him a couple of times this summer, but he’s been kind of doing his own thing and trying to get himself right.

Individually, has this been what you thought your NBA experience would be?

Curry: It’s been ups and downs. The only thing that’s held me back since I’ve gotten the opportunity to play is injuries. I missed a whole year my second year in Dallas with the stress fracture in my leg as I was really hitting my stride. That was a tough part. Since I’ve been in the league, I’ve shown who I am as a player anytime I step on the floor, for the most part. I feel like it’s been a different journey as far as being undrafted and earning my way a little bit slower, but I’m appreciative of every opportunity and just trying to get better and have a long career.

Was there a certain moment where you appreciated it more, or was there a turning point where you found your NBA niche?

Curry: I’ve been appreciative of every opportunity. The Dallas situation was great for my career. After missing that whole year, I think going to Portland was a big step in my career because that organization really gave me a great opportunity and trusted me that I could help take them to another level. I started off slow as I was getting back into my rhythm after missing a whole year. They stuck with me, and we were able to make it to the Western Conference Finals, and it prepared my career even more. Being around those guys, that veteran team, and guys like Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.

What’s Doc Rivers been like behind the scenes for you as a coach and person?

Curry: He’s been great. He’s had a tough job with everything going on here the past two years. For me, personally, he’s been great. He trusts his players and gives them a lot of freedom. He knew my game more than a lot of other coaches around the league as far as knowing I’m more than just a spot-up shooter and a spacer. He put the ball in my hands a little bit more last year in the playoffs. That’s another area where I was able to elevate my game last year and coming into this year.

Do you feel you’ve found a home and Philly, and have you thought about your long-term future?

Curry: I hope so, but I thought I’d be in Dallas for a long time, too, so you never know. It’s a crazy business. Things change fast. As a player, you want to be somewhere for a long time. It’s been a great fit. I love the energy in Philly. We’ll see what happens.

MORE: Podcast: Ben Simmons trade talks, Joel Embiid’s return timetable and more 76ers updates

You can follow Michael Scotto on Twitter: @MikeAScotto

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