The Seth Curry Injury Changed the Season for the Mavericks

DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 6: Seth Curry /

Seth Curry being hurt didn’t mean much to the national media, but his absence was felt throughout the organization this season.

For the past couple of months, there’s one question that anyone associated with the Mavericks has been asked repeatedly…

Why are the Mavericks so bad this year?

Seriously, from distant family members back home to the occasional NBA fan on Twitter, this is something that I have been asked a plethora of times over the course of the season.

Back at the first part of the season, I was a guest on the Hardwood Knocks podcast (NBA Math’s official podcast) and a radio show in Memphis before the Mavs played the Grizzlies.

Each of those interviews, I got the same question: Why do the Mavericks have the record they have this year?

You never want to point towards an injury as an excuse, but the press release on October 7, 2017 changed everything for the Mavericks.

Back in the summer of 2016, the Mavericks jumped at the opportunity to take a flyer on Seth Curry, the younger brother of Stephen Curry. Curry had just came off a season with the Sacramento Kings where he showed flashes of finally taking the next step in his career.

Signing a two-year, $6 million deal, it was a chance for Curry to take the leap and prove his long-term value in the league.

After a year of averaging over 12 points a game and shooting over 42% from behind the arc, Curry has a solid first year in Dallas before hitting an offseason where he would get a new running mate in the back court.

This set the stage for a big second year in Dallas…a contract year.

After the Mavericks acquired their center of the future (as they thought at the time) in Nerlens Noel at the trade deadline last February, the starting lineup looked to be set with Noel and Nowitzki up front, Barnes and Matthews on the wing and Dennis Smith Jr. at point.

Seth Curry, despite starting 42 games in the 2016-17 season, was headed towards the 6th man role.

Except Rick Carlisle had other plans.

On media day (September 20th) in Dallas, Carlisle announced that Nerlens Noel would be coming off the bench and Dirk Nowitzki would be moving to center. Thus moving Seth Curry into the starting lineup.

Dennis Smith Jr. had his running mate for his rookie season in the back court.

“I think we can be a big time back court in the NBA,” Smith Jr. said when I asked him about teaming up with Curry back in training camp.

“He is a really good player and I don’t think he gets enough credit for how good he is. A lot of people sleep on him, but everybody sees it every day here. So I think we can be a really good dynamic back court,” Smith Jr. said.

The Mavericks, and their new rookie starting point guard, would operate over the next two weeks after media day with Seth Curry as their starting shooting guard. This included all of training camp and even a few preseason games.

Then, on October 7th, the Mavericks sent out a press release with the following:

"“The Dallas Mavericks announced today that guard Seth Curry will be out after being diagnosed with a stress reaction of his left tibia. No timetable has been set for his return and he will be reevaluated weekly.”"

News trickled to the fan base, but it didn’t really have a “serious” vibe early on. The term “stress reaction” was interesting, but many thought he could be available for the beginning of the regular season.

When Curry was asked about it a few days later on October 9th, he said “a week, week and a half. See how it progresses from there. Not really an exact timeframe.”

Suddenly, the Mavericks had to abandon everything they had been planning for before media day even took place. All the time they spent in training camp getting Smith Jr. acclimated with Curry by his side was now thrown out the door. The gameplan had to be changed.

Yogi Ferrell was coming off a nice rookie season in Dallas, but he isn’t Seth Curry. Ferrell would be the perfect backup point guard in the league and suddenly, the six-foot guard was being thrusted into the starting shooting guard spot.

The season opener came and still no Seth Curry.

November 9th came and Rick Carlisle updated us with a “nothing is imminent” line on Curry’s recovery. Christmas came and still no Curry. Worry on Curry’s status for the rest of the season was beginning to spread.

January 27th came and Carlisle announced that Curry would be out another month.

Then, on February 6th, the bad news was confirmed.

Yes, the season is pretty much a wrap for the Mavericks, but it’s just the cherry on top of the biggest “what if” of the season and a rough contract year for Curry himself.

Ferrell hasn’t been bad this season, but the fifth starter has been a rotating door all season. Devin Harris, Nerlens Noel, Maxi Kleber, and Dwight Powell have all found themselves in that fifth starting spot this year in addition to Ferrell.

Would the Mavericks have made the playoffs if Curry was healthy all year? Maybe not, but they would have definitely been better than what they are now and the organization would have had a better look at the long-term pairing of Curry and Smith Jr. in the back court.

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Now, the organization and Curry enters an offseason of unknown.

For Curry, he enters unrestricted free agency at the age of 27 coming off sitting out an entire season due to injury. In what he expected to be a breakout season in a contract year, now Curry is an unknown heading into a market where very few teams have a significant amount of cap space.

For the Mavericks, they have to figure out if they want to bring Curry back and how much they would be willing to pay to bring him back. My guess would be that both sides try to run it back for one more, prove-it type season where Curry makes anywhere from $5-7 million.

To put it simple, the Mavericks had high hopes for Seth Curry this season and he was going to be an integral part of the offense. He was supposed to be Smith Jr.’s “Robin” in the back court and when you take your starting shooting guard out of the equation for a whole season, things are going to be a little different.

Is the injury to Curry THE reason the Mavericks have 17 wins on February 6th?

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It’s not the only reason, but I do believe it is the reason that holds the most weight and the first reason I bring up when I get asked that question.