NBA Draft

No one in the NBA is quite like Seth Curry, who’s thriving with a simple Sixers action

There are no players in the NBA like Joel Embiid or Seth Curry.

This is practically self-evident with Embiid, a 7-footer with an endless bag of tricks. For Curry, a 31-year-old former G League player who’s built upon an impressive postseason last year, it’s perhaps less obvious.

The above video covers one of the Sixers’ favorite actions, a look that usually begins with Curry making an “Iverson cut,” sprinting wing to wing across a pair of teammates. He’s of course not as athletic, speedy or electrifying as Allen Iverson, but Curry’s quite skilled at the cut that unofficially bears the Sixers legend’s name. 

This basic action — Iverson cut into a side pick-and-roll with Embiid — has accentuated Curry’s strengths as a pull-up shooter and two-man game whiz.

“It’s been great,” Embiid said on Jan. 7 of his two-man game with Curry. “Just reading the defense, whatever the defense gives me, and just finding him. Obviously tonight (against the Spurs) we took it to another level. It was a little easier because their bigs were staying up, so all I really had to do was hold the screen and get him open. 

“There were a few times he actually didn’t take the shot, which he should’ve done. There were a couple of times where I thought instead of taking a long two, he could’ve pulled up for three. So he needs to take those opportunities and keep knocking them down.”


Embiid’s point about long twos not being smart shots is intuitive. Curry is a bit of an exception, though.

According to Cleaning the Glass, 30 percent of Curry’s shots this season have been long mid-range attempts, which ranks in the 100th percentile among combo guards. He’s made 57.9 percent of those shots (91st percentile), an incredible mark for a player who’s taken 3.5 long mid-range looks per game. It’s the best figure of Curry’s career so far, but it’s also not a small sample size fluke. 

Much of that success has come off of Embiid screens and handoffs. Curry’s 50.4 field goal percentage on pull-ups is No. 1 in the NBA, per And that’s mostly because of his long two excellence, since he’s at just 33.3 percent on pull-up threes. While Curry and Embiid aren’t flummoxing defenses with dribble handoffs nearly as often as the Embiid-JJ Redick duo, Curry’s been an elite shooter on those plays this season. He’s made 63.8 percent of his attempts off of handoffs, easily best in the league for players with at least one handoff possession per game.

On that same night when the Curry-Embiid duo was especially in sync, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers began the game by playing with the defense’s expectations. Instead of the left wing-to-right wing Tobias Harris cut the Spurs expected, he sent Harris backdoor once he reached the right elbow. Embiid hit him for a layup. 

“It was a great draw-up and great play — different action to a play that we normally run,” Harris said. “It was good to see how we’re expanding on that play in general. It’s going to open up even more looks going forward.”

Indeed, we later noticed the Sixers using that game-opening action as misdirection to set up Curry and Embiid the next week in Miami for their familiar side pick-and-roll. 

Adding another wrinkle or two likely wouldn’t hurt before (or during) the playoffs, but there’s also nothing wrong with sticking to a simple play that encourages two unique talents to improvise. 

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