LAS VEGAS -- Two years ago, Gilbert Arenas told me he could tell if a player was going to be a superstar just by saying his name.
"Look at some of [the] names," Arenas said. "Kobe Bryant. Tiger Woods. Anything with Michael in it. It's like if you have a name like that, you're automatically a star. O.J. Mayo, the kid hasn't played one minute [in the NBA], but you already know he's going to be great."
As I watched Warriors rookie Stephen Curry play here over the last few days at the NBA Summer League, Arenas' words came back to me. Curry's name isn't exactly melodic, and it doesn't tell me he's going to be great -- but everything else about him does.
Watching him play, I get that feeling, and I just know he's going to become an impressive player. It's his lean frame that's bound to pop with muscles in the next few years; his fluid shooting stroke; his never-ruffled demeanor that's exemplified by the way he chews on his mouth guard during breaks in the action (recalling the way Brett Favre toyed with his mouthpiece between plays). It's the whole package, one that begs observers to believe this 21-year-old, baby-faced guard is a future star in the making.
Curry has struggled with his shooting in Vegas, but he did score 16 points against the Rockets in his debut, collect 29 against fellow lottery pick Tyreke Evans and the Kings in his second game and chip in 23 against Detroit. Against Sacramento, Curry displayed the great confidence he inherited from another great shooter, his father, Dell, by rebounding from a two-point (on 0-for-8 shooting) first half to drop 27 in the second.
"I've gone through slumps before," Curry said. "They are nothing new to me. I always feel like I am going to turn it around."
When Curry feels that confidence, so too do those watching him.
"He's a guy that doesn't worry about the stat sheet," Warriors assistant coach Keith Smart said. "His dad was a lot like that. At Davidson, there were games when he couldn't buy a bucket. But I've noticed that he's a guy that always thinks his next shot is going in."
If Curry gets up to speed quickly in the the regular season (Smart believes his learning curve "is going to be drastically shorter than people think"), the Warriors have the makings of an explosive backcourt. Monta Ellis is already established as a premier scorer. He was reportedly unhappy the Warriors drafted a point guard, but if he and Curry find a way to mesh, the duo will have the ability to average 30-35 points per game next season. The Warriors have made no secret of their desire to win games based on their offense. With Curry and Ellis lighting it up, they just might be able to do that.
• Knicks president Donnie Walsh told SI.com that he asked Eddy Curry about playing in the summer league, but the veteran center didn't feel he was in basketball shape yet after missing most of last season. Curry, who practiced with the Knicks last week before leaving Las Vegas on Monday, has dropped close to 30 pounds in the last two months to slim down to 328 pounds.
"I think he feels like he has to lose another 20 [pounds] to be able to play," Walsh said.
Walsh added he was pleased with the way Curry looked after struggling with weight and conditioning problems last season.
"I think he has progressed a great deal," Walsh said. "He worked out with us and he looked really light on his feet. It's not a specific weight he has to get to. When he loses fat and gets muscle, he's going to lose weight but not as quickly as everyone might want him to. His [good] weight should be when he can go out there and keep up with our pace."
• Former Nets and Warriors point guard guard Marcus Williams, last seen being waived by Golden State in March, has been impressing scouts while playing on Memphis' summer league club. Williams set a summer league record with 17 assists in the Grizzlies' opener and scored 16 points in Tuesday's victory against New York. Williams looks noticeably slimmer after dropping 10 pounds (he came to Las Vegas at 212) while playing in Puerto Rico last spring. Williams feels he has a legitimate shot at making the team as a backup to Mike Conley.
"I've been working out a lot," Williams said. "I had to get my rhythm back and tighten everything up. I feel a little quicker."