Lebron James has been the best player in the NBA until very recently. Some now vouch for Kawhi Leonard after his finals performance. Some others still ride the Kevin Durant bandwagon after he outplayed (arguable in my book but still) Lebron in the finals.
However, there was a time when people were saying Stephen Curry was the best player in the NBA. This is not true when you take into account their whole careers, of course.
But, for a shining season of peak Curry, it WAS true. Even better, there is a better than outside chance we see a similar season from Steph again. Stephen Curry may have a 3rd MVP in him.
Let’s take a brief look at where the baby faced killer came from, his peak, and why the superhero may return.
Domination at Davidson
Steph was not a highly regarded recruit (imagine).
He ended up and Davidson and immediately was one of the best scorers in college. By the end of his career, he was a legend.
Curry averaged 25.3 ppg for his career, and 28.6 in his final season. Curry might have had the best shooting season in CBB history, setting a record with 162 treys in 07-08. Steph also tossed in 2.5 steals per game in his final college season, near tops in College. Even in college, Steph was changing the game by taking over 10 3’s a game and winning with his overachieving squad.
Curry was drafted in 2009 7th overall with concerns about his defensive ability and ankles.
Those ankles concerns would stick with him for a few years before they were mostly shaken off. Steph’s mediocre defense has since been compensated by his other worldly offense.
After an injury shortened 3rd season, Curry took a leap and averaged 23 ppg while taking 10 3’s a game. Davidson Curry was now raining terror down on stretched defenses at a historic rate.
This would only be the beginning, as Thompson emerged and a Draymond Green emerged to fill all the holes that needed to be plugged.
The rise of a dynasty, and Curry’s insane offensive firepower as the engine, was underway.
A switch flipped in 15-16 for Curry, as all his stats went up and he went from 24 ppg to over 30. The switch, of course, was Steve Kerr’s system.
I don’t need to tell you how historic this season was. Curry had the 9th best season ever in Player Efficiency Rating. He also had the 4th best season ever in terms of box plus minus.
In non-advanced metrics, he led the league in 3 pointers attempted and made, free throw percentage (yes this matters) and steals (smart defender, just limited physically).
In more advanced metrics, Steph led the league, besides PER and BPM, in: True Shooting %, Offensive Win Shares, Total Win Shares, Win Shares per 48 minutes, and Value Over Replacement Player.
Chef Curry truly cooked up a masterpiece on the offensive end. Curry actually had the greatest Offensive Season in terms of Offensive Box Plus/Minus in NBA history, and it’s not close. Curry’s 10.35 OBPM is farther from the second place payer (T-Mac – his peak is also underrated) at 9.83 than Tracy is from 5th (one of a few Lebron seasons near the top). If you watched the offense you felt it.
The 15-16 Warriors were a basketball masterpiece and Curry’s Mona Lisa.
Why Curry May Do It Again
I’m not sure if you recall, but some guy named Kevin Durant came along after 15-16 and joined the Warriors.
Durant, he himself a former MVP, as had a historic MVP season when he secured the award, by the way.
This changed the whole offense. Curry’s shots, possessions, and minutes all went down. The warriors obscene dominance didn’t allow Curry to do what he does. Winning is a good thing, and there was plenty, so for a while the Death Lineup Warriors ruled.
In the midst of this, we forget. Durant may be the better overall player (I can see both sides), but Curry was something we had never seen before right before Durant arrived.
KD has left to join Kyrie in Brooklyn now (is there a more hateable team right now?), and now the Chef can whip us up something again.
In order to win at the highest level, Curry will have to be at his absolute best. The surrounding cast of the Warriors is worse now. Green has taken a massive step back.
Curry will have to be special again. And so, he will. What else would the Warriors do but revolve around Curry and his greatness again?
He may not match 15-16, but it will be close, because it has to be.
-Brent Buckley (@bigbucksbuckley on the twitter)
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