James Worthy Thinks Stephen Curry Would Have Defensive Problems In The 80s

Mary Raleigh
18/10/2023

The Lakers legend believes Steph Curry would have struggled in the 80s.

Stephen Curry is widely recognized as one of the greatest scorers in the history of basketball. However, according to Los Angeles Lakers legend, James Worthy, the defensive challenges he might have encountered had he played in Worthy’s era are worth considering.

During an interview for the “All The Smoke” podcast, Worthy shared his perspective:

“The way Steph could shoot, the way he moves without the ball, I think he could survive. To have to guard Magic on the other end… We’re putting a lineup where he’s got to guard me or Magic, so I think the defensive issue would be a little different. We’d put him in a situation where he’d have to guard somebody.”

Without a doubt, Curry’s defensive experience would have been markedly distinct in the 1980s. During that era, the game had a different pace and physicality, with post-up plays and isolation basketball taking center stage. Defending against more prominent, post-oriented players would have been an arduous task, and help defense was not as readily available as it is in today’s fast-paced, team-oriented game.

The idea of Curry facing Magic Johnson on one end and defending against a player of Worthy’s caliber on the other certainly stirs the imagination. It raises questions about how he would have adapted, how his defensive skills might have evolved, and whether his offensive genius would have compensated for potential shortcomings on the other end of the floor.

Stephen Curry would have no chance of defending 6’9″ Magic Johnson, who would destroy him in the post. Also, he would have no chance in pick and roll against Larry Bird or James Worthy. All these old-school players would try to find a way to beat Curry and exploit him in the defense.

On the other side, when we talk about the offense, point guards like Isiah Thomas and Dennis Johnson would hunt Stephen Curry all over the court and it would be tough for him to hit all those three-point shots he did in today’s NBA. In the 80s, it was a slow-paced game, where big men had advantages, and where defenses were brutal, Curry would be in trouble to show his greatness like he did in the 2010s.

Curry’s Defensive Dilemma in the ’80s

Stephen Curry would face considerable challenges defending against the 6’9″ Magic Johnson, whose post moves and versatility could pose a significant threat. Furthermore, the prospect of guarding Larry Bird or James Worthy in pick-and-roll situations would test Curry’s defensive capabilities, as these old-school players would be relentless in their efforts to exploit any vulnerabilities.

Conversely, when evaluating Curry’s offensive performance in this hypothetical scenario, it becomes evident that tenacious point guards like Isiah Thomas and Dennis Johnson would relentlessly hound him across the court. In the ’80s, a basketball era characterized by a slower pace and rugged defenses, Curry’s prowess in sinking three-pointers—so characteristic of today’s NBA—might be notably challenged. The game’s dynamics, favoring big men, would require Curry to adapt and demonstrate his greatness in a different context, distinct from the high-scoring 2010s.

James Worthy’s Versatility in Today’s NBA

The conversation about players from past eras making their mark in today’s NBA is a recurrent topic in basketball discourse. While some argue that the stars of yesteryears might struggle in the current landscape, there’s also a counter-debate about whether certain legends of the past could seamlessly transition into the modern game.

James Worthy, a standout from a bygone era, emerges as a prime candidate for success in today’s NBA. Possessing an enviable athletic ability, characterized by his dunking prowess and capacity to run in transition, Worthy’s two-way game, particularly his role as a sturdy perimeter defender, aligns seamlessly with the requirements of contemporary basketball.

Worthy’s 12-season tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers was marked by consistent excellence. In the regular season, he averaged 17.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 3.0 assists over 926 games. He earned the distinction of representing his team in seven NBA All-Star games, clinched one Finals MVP award, and contributed significantly to three NBA championship victories. His enduring legacy was officially recognized with his induction into the Hall of Fame in 2003.

Steph Curry’s Timeless Offensive Prowess

In the realm of basketball, few debates are as definitive as Stephen Curry’s status as the greatest shooter in the history of the NBA. His extraordinary shooting range, accompanied by an unmatched ball-handling skill set, has not only revolutionized the way the game is played but also redefined the expectations for a point guard.

While there’s no doubt about Curry’s offensive brilliance, the question of how he would have fared in a different era, particularly with regard to defense, continues to intrigue basketball enthusiasts. The past did pose unique defensive challenges, with physical play and isolation basketball prevalent, but Curry’s offensive ingenuity might have outweighed those hurdles.Over his 14-year career with the Golden State Warriors, Curry has delivered consistent excellence. His remarkable averages of 24.6 points, 6.5 assists, and 4.7 rebounds in 882 regular-season games have solidified his status as a game-changing force. Furthermore, he boasts nine NBA All-Star selections, two MVP awards, one Finals MVP honor, and has secured four NBA championships.

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