Oscar Robertson says Steph Curry shoots so well because modern NBA defenses are trash

Oscar Robertson has his own ideas on how to stop Steph Curry.

Al Behrman/AP

Defending Steph Curry is a bit like navigating rain without an umbrella.

There are conflicting theories on the best way to do this—walk…run…stay home and just pray it stops soon. But no matter how you slice it, you’re going to get wet.

Barring an act of the hardwood heavens, the Golden State Warriors guard is going to splash at least a handful of buckets on you. It’s an inevitability, and you can only hope to mitigate the damage.

Most NBA minds that have watched Curry morph into a human GameShark code over the last several years have accepted this reality—”that Curry is doing things on the basketball court that literally no one else can or will attempt to do.

But…there are still a few holdouts on Curry’s inevitability. Or rather, there are some chicken-or-the-egg types who maintain that the rarified air Curry is currently soaring through is only accessible thanks to crappy defense being played in modern basketball.

Such is the opinion of NBA Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson.

Robertson went on The Mike & Mike Show on Thursday and laid down a scathing indictment of NBA defensive strategy when the subject of Curry arose. According to NJ.com’s Randy Miller, Robertson believes stopping Curry is simple—”just go out there and guard him farther from the basket, ya dumb jamokes.

"If I’ve got a guy who’s great shooting the ball outside, don’t you want to extend your defense out a little bit?" Robertson said. "I just don’t think coaches today in basketball understand the game of basketball. They don’t know anything about defenses. They don’t know what people are doing on the court.  They talk about analytical basketball and stuff like this."

Ah, yes…Analytical Basketball—the great millennial bogeyman, sweeping in on the wings of an Excel sheet and spiriting away the soul of good ol’ fashioned, peach-basket dadsketball in the dead of night. It started with the three-point line and now these kids are Euro-stompin’ and wearing socks on their arms.

Indeed, the landscape of basketball has changed drastically since the pre-three-point-line days of the ’60s and ’70s, when Robertson played for the Cincinnati Royals and Milwaukee Bucks. But the fundamentals of defense haven’t changed, according to Robertson. Curry is good, he says, but he’s good because coaches these days don’t get basketball.

Oscar. My man. With all due respect, a counterpoint (via SB Nation):

That’s Curry hitting a shot from near the half court line. He had a defender right in front of him, because NBA coaches do understand that you need to have a body on this man when he’s 50 feet from the basket. But it didn’t matter, because often, Curry doesn’t make sense as a quantity within the game.

Teams meet Curry at three-quarters court, harass him with physical guards and double team him high. And sometimes it works (see: Matthew Dellavedova living inside Curry’s jersey for the first two games of the 2015 NBA Finals). More often, however, pressuring Curry ends in him driving the lane for a floater or dishing to a wide open man on the wing. Not a great alternative.

Sometimes it doesn’t come down to fundamentals. Sometimes it comes down to an unstoppable force cutting apart moveable objects. Sometimes Curry just Curry’s you.


Dan is on Twitter. You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself Curry’d.