In 2009, Stephen Curry still had plenty of doubters. A junior at Davidson, he had proven himself a great college player but not many people were sold on him as an NBA player (we’ll get back to that in a minute).
People around North Carolina had some idea. Curry and Davidson had nearly upset Duke and UNC prior to this 2009 game which Duke won 79-67. Curry had 29 points, eight rebounds and six assists.
The year before though Duke narrowly escaped Davidson, largely thanks to Gerald Henderson, and Curry made his big-stage debut against Kansas in the Elite Eight, with the Wildcats losing by just two.
When he left Davidson after his junior year, a lot of people doubted he could make it in the NBA, as did a lot of NBA teams. You make arguments for Blake Griffin, who went first to the Los Angeles Clippers, and James Harden, who went third to Oklahoma City.
But Memphis took Hasheem Thabeet at #2, Sacramento took Tyreke Evans at #4, and Minnesota took Ricky Rubio at #5 and Jonny Flynn at #6 before Golden State picked Curry with the seventh pick. Minnesota had three point guards to choose from and picked wrong twice.
Henderson went to Charlotte with the #12 pick.
Okay, back to what we said above. One guy who got it early was Jay Bilas. Someone called in on a pre-draft radio show and expressed doubts about Curry. Bilas paused and said...”you do understand that he’s exceptionally smart, don’t you?”
And he was right about that because look how well Curry has taken relatively modest athletic gifts (by NBA standards) and outworked and outsmarted almost every other player in the NBA.