With the success of Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors this season, some Kings fans may start bringing up the “what-if” questions. What if Sacramento used their fourth pick in the 2009 NBA Draft to select Curry instead of Tyreke Evans (Curry was drafted seventh by the Warriors)? Would the Kings have a winning season and be in the playoffs? So many questions can arise from this one possibility, but there is only one answer.
That answer is no.
One player does not define the success of the team. Rather, it is a combination of a well-rounded roster, a good coaching staff and an even better general manager.
Both Evans and Curry are extremely talented basketball players, but their success is a product of their environment. Evans and Curry had amazing rookie seasons, and Curry finished just below Evans in votes for the Rookie of the Year Award.
Prior to drafting Evans, the Kings had the worst record that year with only 17 wins and 65 losses. They didn’t really have a standout go-to player, as Kevin Martin was their most productive player in the 2008-2009 season. When Evans arrived in Sacramento, he became that go-to player the Kings needed; his production did not disappoint the fans. With his winning mentality and strong physical build, he was able to score at will. He averaged 20 points, five rebounds and five assists per game that season, a stat line only four other players in history can say they had their rookie season. Evans won the NBA Rookie of the Year award with those numbers.
As for Curry, the Warriors already had two big name players in Ellis and Corey Maggette, so he didn’t have the same opportunity as Evans. However, Curry was still the second-best rookie that year having recorded his first triple-double on February 10, 2010 and career high 42 points on April 14, 2010.
If the Kings drafted Curry, I don’t think he would be as successful as he was with the Warriors and vice versa with Evans. There weren’t enough supporting players in the 2009 Kings roster for Curry to succeed in. Curry is more of a team player that excels with good team chemistry and teamwork. The subpar coaching staff would have probably also hindered Curry’s potential.
Likewise, if Evans were to be drafted by the Warriors, he too would not have succeeded. He was made to be the go-to player on a basketball team and he would not have been that person in Oakland. If Evans played for the Warriors, he would have had to play behind the determined and ball-needy Ellis.
With Ellis gone, Curry is the face of the Warriors, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Evans was the face of the Kings in his rookie season but due to injuries, he has strayed away from that image. However, Evans still can be the face of a franchise if he so chooses to.
The “what-if” questions always arise when one sees when their possible option succeed far more than their actual choice. However, it is unlikely that all the success one fantasizes about would have actually happened. I don’t see the Kings being any more successful with Curry than Evans. It’s not one player that can single- turn a franchise around; the roster, the coaching staff and the main office are the ones who ultimately control the overall success of one player.