Behind the Scenes: The Secret of Drafting Stephen Curry

“With the seventh pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, the Golden State Warriors select Stephen Curry of Davidson”, beamed then NBA commissioner David Stern.

Golden State is coming off its first NBA championship in 40 years and Steph Curry is marked as “the best in the world”. In fact, crowds from opposing teams chant “MVP! MVP! MVP!” when Curry approaches the free throw line. Drake even raps about the guy.

But things weren’t always this good for the Warriors or Curry.

Leading up to the 2009 NBA Draft, Steph was a major question mark. Recruiting reports didn’t help. In fact, many were negative:

“Stephen’s explosiveness and athleticism are below standard.” “He’s not a great finisher around the basket. He needs to considerably improve as a ball handler…Stephen must develop as a point guard to make it in the league.”

As investors, we’re always on the hunt for the “next big thing”. And so naturally, we wondered — given the research on Curry, what was it that compelled the Warriors to draft him? What did they see that the market was missing?

To answer this question, we turned to accomplished venture capitalist, Mike Maples, Jr. of Floodgate. Recently, Maples wrote in a blog post entitled “Finding Billion Dollar Secrets” that in order to “do something legendary…you [must] obsessively pursue insights that defy conventional wisdom.” From an investor perspective, this means uncovering opportunities that are “secrets” — those ideas that are non-consensus and right. Maples goes on to say that when you realize that most people think alike, you begin to open yourself up to non-conventional opportunities and gain a competitive advantage. Some of these opportunities are comprised of unique insights and a treasure trove of secrets.

So now that the Warriors identified Curry as their target, they had to wait. Drafting seventh, that meant watching five teams (Minnesota had two picks) choose players other than Curry. The herd mentality didn’t apply here. With the first pick, the Los Angeles Clippers drafted power forward Blake Griffin. Memphis had the second pick and selected center Hasheem Thabeet. Oklahoma City took James Harden third. Sacramento was now on the clock. They drafted Tyreke Evans with the fourth pick. Minnesota had the next two picks. With the fifth pick, the Timberwolves took point guard Ricky Rubio. For their sixth pick, the T-wolves selected another point guard in Jonny Flynn. Two point guards? Back to back? Is the Warrior Front Office feeling a twinge of doubt? Remember, the Warriors had uncovered a secret. To cash in on that secret, they needed a great deal of conviction. It didn’t matter that Minnesota had drafted not one, but two point guards before Curry. Non-consensus and right, would lead the Warriors to the promise land.

Maples closes by saying that “Not many [people] are willing to be unconventional enough to achieve a legendary breakthrough.” Winners must have iron stomachs.

With unconventional thinking, the Warriors found themselves making an investment in Steph Curry — a then secret that is now just beginning to reap tremendous benefit.

Actions speak louder than words.

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