Culture of Hoops

Sonny’s Top 50 NBA Players: #3 Stephen Curry

Resume: 23.8 points (6th in league), 4.3 rebounds, 7.7 assists (6th in league), 2.0 steals (4th in league), 286 three pointers made (1st in league, career best, NBA Record), 32.7 minutes, 49% FG, 44% 3PT (3rd in league), 91% FT (1st in league) … Team Record in Games Played: 67-13 (0-2 without) … Playoffs: 28.3 points (career best), 5.0 rebounds (career best), 6.4 assists, 1.9 steals (career best), 98 three pointers made (NBA Record), 39.3 minutes, 46% FG (career best), 42% 3PT (career best), 84% FT, 16-5 record … NBA MVP, 1st Team All-NBA, All-Star

Allow me to kick this off with a proclamation:

If Stephen Curry stays healthy (And I’d gladly donate both of my ankles to him if mine were any healthier than his to ensure this) he will go down as one of the all-time best to play the game. 

Pretty bold stuff right there, right? I mean, any time a declaration of “one of the all-time best” status is made with no hyperbole whatsoever, we’re getting into really serious stuff. Would you agree that it would have been even bolder of me to say that, say, two years ago when I was doing my Top 50 Countdown?

Believe it or not, I did say that about Stephen Curry in 2013, and I even had it emboldened just like I did above. A quick story related to that statement: I remember writing that column in the Florida Gulf Coast University library, and I seriously considered whether I would actually put my own ankles on the line for the sake of healthy ankles for Stephen Curry. Like, if God said to me, “Sonny, either you or Stephen Curry can have chronic ankle problems … choose,” would I pick me or Steph. Anyway, three weeks after that Curry column got published I badly sprained my left ankle playing pick-up basketball. That’s when I learned I had super powers.

So now that we have that out of the way, we can get back to the fact that I made the bold prediction two years ago that Stephen Curry would go down as one of the best to ever play the game, and that was after one postseason appearance and the first regular season in which he broke the single season three-pointers record. Over the last two years the case for Curry as one of the GOAT’s has only strengthened, and I feel more confident about that statement today than I ever have. Hell, during the NBA Playoffs I asked my cousin, and trusted basketball consultant, Paul Clark if there was a chance that Curry could go down as one of the ten best players ever.

Rather than putting forth a full and cohesive Stephen Curry column, I’m just going to hit you with a few semi-related Stephen Curry bullet points that will be equally impactful.

  • Stephen Curry has more unassisted three pointers last season that 20 NBA teams did. That’s stupid.
  • Wanna hear something stupider? This one comes from Grantland’s Kirk Goldsberry:”NBA shooters make less than 30 percent of their 3s when a defender is right up on them, but they make 44 percent when the closest defender is 12 feet away. Curry makes 44 percent of his contested 3s. Let me make this totally clear: Curry is as good with a guy in his face as the average NBA shooter is when wide open.”That’s stupider.
  • Per, fifty players attempted at least 350 shots within eight feet of the basket last season. Curry hit 63 percent of his shots in that range, the eighth best in the league.
  • Stephen Curry is the fifth highest paid player in the NBA. Oh snap, did I say the NBA? I meant on the Golden State Warriors. Stephen Curry is the fifth highest paid player on the Golden State Warriors.
  • Did you know that Stephen Curry is the best off-the-dribble three-point shooter in the NBA? I don’t have any stats to back that up, it’s just a fact.
  • This is one of my favorite statistical nuggets I’ve come up with in quite some time: Stephen Curry made 384 three-pointers in the regular season and Playoffs combined last year. He’s 70 three-pointers ahead of second place, a spot held down by the 2012-13 version of Stephen Curry. Third on the list? Klay Thompson last year, with 296 combined three-pointers. #SplashBrothers
  • Did you know that Stephen Curry averaged 26 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals and made 25 three-pointers in the NBA Finals and didn’t win Finals MVP because people thought it would be cute to give the award to Andre Iguodala because he “shut down” LeBron James?
  • In this year’s annual GM Survey, Stephen Curry finished third in the voting for “Which player has the best basketball IQ,” second for “Which player forces opposing coaches to make the most adjustments,” and first for “Best Point Guard,” “Best pure shooter” and “Which player would you want taking the shot with the game on the line?” A somewhat humorous aside: Over the summer I got in a Facebook argument with someone who told me that “Basketball IQ” isn’t a real thing. Oddly enough, he’s not the kind of person who would have a high anything IQ.

Look, I could go on and on talking about Stephen Curry. It’s one of my favorite pastimes. But I feel like I’m at a point where he no longer needs to be defended. Back in 2010 I bet my friend Collin $10 that Stephen Curry would eventually be one of the five best point guards in the league. He’s never paid me (then again, he covered a $50 2 a.m. Uber ride to the casino a few weeks ago, so I’ll call it even). I’ve always defended Stephen Curry and I’ll always have that paternal instinct to do so since I was one of the first people on the Steph Curry bandwagon. But we’re at the point now where if you’re trying to knock this guy you’re just oblivious or prepared to fight a losing battle. All of his perceived weaknesses he’s turned into strengths, and his strengths he’s turned into super powers. Kind of like my ability to predict ankle sprains. Regardless, Stephen Curry can do all things. I’m convinced of it.

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