Commentary (possible Golden State Warriors bias alert):
First ever? He just might. Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Stephen Curry has ascended to Best Player status. Regardless of who you ask, there’s going to be a good chance that they’ll respond “Curry” on that question, and probably without hesitating.
His Golden State Warriors are also creeping in into immortality status themselves, chasing the best record an NBA team has ever posted. But there’s one other record, one massive one, that is brewing in all this, and this could be a possibility.
To fully understand this, and how big the magnitude this could be, remember that NO ONE has won the NBA MVP unanimously. Yes, not even Michael Jordan. LeBron James and Shaquille O’neal came within one vote in 2013 and 2000 respectively, and both are well deserved at the time. So anyone winning this cements himself as having an extraordinary that no one in the history of the game has ever been.
Could that be Steph?
Let’s see if we could be an argument of some sort to make sense in to all this. As like March Madness, sometimes the selection is all about the resume’. What does Steph Curry have in his resume’, and what is he adding up to validated a unanimous MVP award?
Here’s what we know.
The Eye Test:
Does he look like the best basketball player in the world? He does, does he? He’s very deadly on the offensive end, so deadly that he can beat you in so many ways, just like the other best players in the world have done the entire existence of the NBA, but unlike most of them, he’s doing it with precision, skill and craftiness. Who would have thought that a 6’3″, 190 LBS, skinny dude with mediocre athleticism and what was considered glass ankles would be dominating the league offensively? Steph could kill you one on one, off the ball, coming off the screen, penetration, shooting, you name it, he has it.
He’s got three 50+ points games this season, 1 better than Protland Trail Blazers G Damian Lillard, and two more than everybody else. Add to it nine 40+ points games to boot, Steph can score, and he will score at will.
He also has a habit of making everybody better, not just by his passing skills, but by the sheer fact that his presence itself is big enough to get so much attention from opposing defenses, that the rest of the team gets open shots. A true team player on his own right, he can find open players, open up the floor, runs the floor, even go as far putting his skinny frame to set screens.
Curry has also been there when needed. The clutch pedal is stepped on when the team needs it the most. Miami, Oklahoma City, Utah, Atlanta, Los Angeles Clippers, Toronto, to name a few teams that saw how good Steph Curry can be in the dying minutes of the game, a real definition of a go to guy.
He is also sound defensively. He’s not going to shut someone down one on one, but he’s active all around the court, switching, recovering, playing the passing lanes, and also rebounding. Yeah, he’s grabbing boards, for a little man, to the tune of 6 games with double digit rebounding performances.
Active on the defensive side of the court. Photo courtesy of Syracuse.com
Looks good right. Yes, and all that is being recorded an astonishing 34 minutes per game. That’s tied for 32nd in the league, 32nd!
The eye test is there. He looks the part, and he’s playing the part, should be a great stamp on Steph’s UMVP resume’ to look at.
Here are Stephen Curry’s numbers during the course of the season, as of now.
– 30.7 Points per game. Leading the league this season.
– 51% Field Goal Percentage. 14th in the NBA (the only non big man in the top 15, with the next being Tony Parker at 18th). First among point guards.
– 46% Three Point FG Percentage. 3rd overall, but taking 5 more shots than the league leader JJ Redick, who’s taking 6 per game and averaging only 1% better.
– 5.4 Rebounds per game. 3rd behind Russell Westbrook and Rajon Rondo respectively among Point Guards.
– 6.4 Assists per game. 11th in the league.
– 2.1 Steals. 5th in the league
– 90% Free Throw Percentage. 2nd behind Jamal Crawford, while taking 2 more shots per game.
– 50% FG, 50% 3PT, 92% FT in clutch situations. Scoring
His traditional stats are impressive, and are in the among the league leaders. But there’s more to traditional stats that we could add to his resume’.
– 68% True Shooting %: League leading.
– 32.52 PER: League leading.
– + 10.12 in Real Plus/Minus. League leading. 8.65 Offensive +/-, also league leading. 1.42 Defensive +/-, 4th among PG’s.
– 13.8 Win Shares. That’s league leading
To put it in even more perspective, the one vote shy MVP winners in Shaquille O’neal and LeBron James didn’t have a better PER and a better True Shooting percentage than Steph Curry has right now. The Win Shares are leaning towards Shaq and Bron, but the season isn’t over for Steph, and he could very well be close in to their 18 and 19 Win Shares respectively, at the end of the year.
One individual record comes to mind, and it’s him beating his own 3PT FG made from last year. No one else has made more 3PTs in the NBA in a season than Steph Curry, in the history of the NBA.
He also broke Kyle Korver’s record of most consecutive games with a 3PT FG made. And he’s still adding to that list. And also tied Donyell Marshall and Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant for most threes made in a game.
Splash damage. Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
As far as records go, his Golden State team is either tying or breaking them left and right. Here are some of the all time records that they either joined or made new.
– 24 – 0 start. Best in NBA History breaking the 1994 Houston Rockets’ record by 8 games.
– 44 straight home wins, breaking the 95-96 Bulls record. And possibly counting.
– 42-1 home wins in a calendar year (2015), tying the 1995 Orlando Magic for the record.
– The Warriors are the fastest to reach 50 wins, doing so in 55 games. They also clinched a Playoff spot in just 58 games. The fastest ever team to do so.
Now while those are team accomplishments, let’s look at the fact that Steph Curry is leading his team and the league in win shares, meaning he has a lot to do with those games won. Further cementing his year as the prime candidate to be not just an MVP, but a unanimous one.
Although they do also own the record for being the biggest upset in NBA history with a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on March 6th, but would that be enough of a blemish to take away what is looking like a historic season? Probably not.
So, we’ve established a very good resume’ here. He’s quite obviously the best player in the world, and the team he’s leading is trending into best ever category. But would that be enough to garner all first place votes come voting time?
Luckily, Stephen Curry can still add some stamps to his UMVP claim.
What we don’t know, and have to find out:
Steph Curry’s 2016 chapter isn’t over. There’s 22 games left to be played, and in those 22 games, either of these are possibilities, assuming he keeps his averages.
– No one in the history of the NBA has averaged 5 3PT made per game, and he’s on pace to do so.
– With 20 games left, and assuming he keeps his average of 5 makes per contest, he’s on pace to make 401(!) 3 pointers in a season. That’s obliterating the record he himself set last year.
– His 32.52 PER is on pace to be the best ever. Better efficiency record than Wilt Chamberlain posted during the the 1963 San Francisco Warriors season.
– If he continues to hold a 68% True Shooting Percentage, he will have the best ever posted number to do so, quite possibly making him one if not the most efficient scorer that is not a big man in the history of the game for a season.
And that’s just the pending individual records he can break. As it has been the talk of the town since December, his Golden State Warriors might beat the greatest regular season record.
They still need to win 17 of the next 20 games, a very tough task, with 3 games left vs the San Antonio Spurs, who’s also having a great season of their own. But if this record gets shattered, along with one or two of the other pending records, the Unanimous claim is looking more and more of an inevitability.
There’s still about 20 games left to write the full resume’ of Curry’s claim to being the Unanimous MVP. As it has been the case, it could come down to voter’s logic. LeBron James’ claim was denied due to arguably bad voting logic, even though he was the obvious, choice in 2013. But Steph is doing something a bit more than what LeBron did in his resume’ this year, this could very well swing the vote towards unanimous decision.
It’s up in the air. The stamps are impressive as it could ever been, and either he adds more to it or not, it will be very interesting to watch Steph’s last 2 months to see if a UMVP will be handed this year, for the first time ever.
Video credit to YouTube users Aqupas™ and FreeXimoPierto
Stats are from NBA.com/Stats and Basketball-Reference.com