One year and one day ago today, Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors dropped 54 points on the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Tonight the two teams tip off for the first of two meetings this season, and it will unravel pretty much the same way it did on Feb. 27, 2013 — except the Knicks were the winners of that game. They won’t be tonight. The damage Curry inflicts on the Knicks at the Garden tonight, however, will pale in comparison to the tailspin he sent the team into after they failed to draft him in 2009.
With the seventh pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, the Golden State Warriors select Stephen Curry out of Davidson College. When that line was spoken by then NBA Commissioner David Stern, the Knicks were destined to fail. With the very next pick, the Knicks took Arizona big man Jordan Hill. Devastated that Curry was off the board, the Knicks made their first of many failures by drafting Hill over DeMar DeRozan (No. 9 overall), Brandon Jennings (No. 10 overall), Jrue Holiday (No. 17 overall), Ty Lawson (No. 18 overall), Jeff Teague (No. 19 overall) or Darren Collison (No. 21 overall).
Hill never made an impact with the Knicks, playing in just 24 games before being shipped to the Houston Rockets for Tracy McGrady, his expiring contract and Sergio Rodriguez. In the deal, the Knicks also sent the Rockets a 2012 first-round draft pick and the rights to swap 2011 first-round picks.
The trade was in advance of the 2010 offseason where LeBron James was the next Knicks pipe dream. But we know how that ended up. The Knicks, after failing to lure James to New York, brought in Amar’e Stoudemire and Raymond Felton. And it didn’t stop there. The Knicks, still desperate for a trio to match the Miami Heat, traded Wilson Chandler, Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, a 2014 first-round draft pick, cash and additional picks to the Denver Nuggets for Carmelo Anthony. The following season they brought in Tyson Chandler via free agency, and that was made possible by amnestying point guard Chauncey Billups — yet another ill-advised decision by the club.
It’s a devastating thought for Knicks fans that if only Curry had dropped one more spot in the draft, none of this would have happened. Who knows the players they could have drafted with the picks they traded to get McGrady and Anthony to New York. Who knows if James would have come to New York to team up with Curry. It’s a complete hypothetical, but at one point in time, Curry on the Knicks was a very real possibility.
But Curry is a Warrior. And tonight the Knicks will agonize in defeat both on the court and over the thought of everything that could have been had Curry become a Knick.