Six days ago, Golden State Warriors star guard Stephen Curry emphatically announced to the basketball world his greatness with one flick of the wrist. With the score tied at 118, Curry sank a 3-pointer from 32 feet out to lift the Warriors over the Oklahoma City Thunder in overtime with just 0.6 seconds left. Over the years the NBA has had great shooters from Larry Bird to Reggie Miller to Ray Allen, but none may be better than Curry. The three-time All-Star has a lightning quick release and is able to contort his body to get a shot up even in the tiniest of spaces or the oddest of angles. Having a player that can shoot the ball effectively is a win-win for basketball teams. It opens up the offense for other players, and the team is able to score more points leading to more wins.
A great jump shot is difficult to defend because most shooters are able to subconsciously process the right time to shoot, the angle, and the power of the shot. Because there is so much going on in the game, there is no time to consciously process this information. When asked by reporters about the game winning shot on February 27th, “Honestly, I don’t know exactly where I am, so it’s not like I’m calibrating in my head, all right, 38 feet, 37, 36,” he said. “Just literally, you’ve got a sense of–I’ve shot the shot plenty of times, you’re coming across half court and timing up your dribbles, and you want to shoot before the defense goes in. And that was pretty much my only thought.” A good shooter has the ability to shoot over the defense or use a pump fake to get them to jump at the wrong time. When the defender mistimes the jump, they are unable to effectively block shots.
Stephen Curry has arguably the best jump shot the NBA has ever seen. He has a very quick release giving defenses little time to react. His father was another great 3-point shooter in the NBA. And the Warriors have an offense designed for shooters to thrive. Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr, a great 3-point shooter in his own right, has created an offense that effectively uses screens to free up Curry, and his running mate, Klay Thompson, from double teams for wide open 3-point opportunities. The understanding of angles and spacing helps Curry and even Thompson understand how to position themselves to score from any spot on the floor.
Golden State (55-5) is benefiting from Curry’s outstanding efficiency. When defenses have to give extra attention to players like Curry, they are risking leaving other players wide open for easy buckets. Having a good shooter on a basketball team is similar to a key employee of a company–and a successful basketball team like the Warriors parallels a successful company. In both cases, the players work together to create the best shot each possession just as companies work together to maximize business or sales.
There are many parallels between business and sports–and comparing shooting basketballs to making sales is just one of them. Coaches direct the action in sports, and are replaced by their managerial counterparts in offices around the globe. Companies need their star employees to complete tasks and achieve goals, just as star athletes are expected to make winning plays. Whether you play basketball or work in an office, the culture in the locker room or the conference room is very similar for successful organizations. Both companies and teams have players that are hungry to do more. Complacency is a recipe for mediocrity. There needs to be belief and confidence in the team to get the job done, whether it is closing a deal or scoring the game-winning basket. Perhaps most important, however, is leadership. Just as Coach Kerr leads the Warriors to new heights in professional basketball, the world’s most successful companies such as Microsoft and Apple have had great leaders throughout their history to bring them to the forefront of the technology industry.
Curry and the Warriors continue to crush the competition because their leader, Coach Kerr, has put the team in position to utilize the strengths of each of each player–from shooting, to rebounding, to defense. When companies or teams are able to work together, the benefits are maximized. Getting everyone on the same page is the hard part. Once everyone is on the same page and executing an effective, winning strategy, the wins will come. For the Warriors, the wins are coming but the fun is just beginning. Just as his Golden State Warriors are trying to rewrite the history books as they march toward the single-season wins record, Curry is trying to cement his legacy as the greatest shooter of all-time with the flick of his wrist.