In just his sixth year in the league Stephen Curry has had his best season yet. With career highs in field goal percentage, rebounding and steals, he has become an elite player in the league, and lead his team to hold the best record in the league for the most part of the first half of the season. Heading a 16 game winning streak, longest in franchise history, Curry is a clear frontrunner for league Most Valuable Player due to his excellent play in all aspects of the game.
If you have not already heard someone rave about the perfection of Stephen Curry’s shot, you have been living under a rock. Mechanically, his shot gives him every advantage imaginable. Shooting the ball prior to the apex of his jump, along with releasing his jump shot in only 0.4 seconds, makes it nearly impossible for a defender to block it. Watching him shoot is so pretty, you expect that every shot he takes will go in. Although he is not shooting 100 percent from the field, he is shooting a career high in field goal percentage, at 49.3 percent, along with the second best free throw percentage in the league. Although his three-point percentage has dropped slightly due to intensified defense against his outside shot, he is still fifth in the league in three-pointers attempted and third in three pointers made.
Former Warriors head coach and current national broadcaster Mark Jackson put it best in his first return to Oracle Arena when he said “He’s a better person than he is a basketball player. Playing at an all-time high.” Curry is one of the special players who can recognize his own brilliance while remaining incredibly humble and grateful for every opportunity he is granted. He plays so relaxed and understands to not blow out of proportion each game, whether a win or loss. His level-headedness adds to his aura of having fun and playing team basketball.
In previous years, Curry’s play has been lacking on the defensive end. He typically defends the worse opposing guard, and has been able to get away with it due to teammate Klay Thompson’s stellar defense. This year, it has all changed. Steph has stepped up to the challenge of defending elite guards and has proven himself, leading the league with an average of 2.2 steals per game. He does not take possessions off, and is more intense than ever on the defensive end. His effort put in on the defensive end has proven to take a little extra energy out of him on the offensive end, but he is still putting up MVP-like numbers on that side of the ball as well. This defensive improvement makes him one of the most well-rounded players in the league, behind only LeBron James.
Over the years, Curry has been criticized for his excessive turnovers and sloppy passes. Although he relapses every now and then with an unnecessary one-handed, no-look pass intended for a teammate cross-court guarded by three defenders, he has cut down on the inefficient plays and made the smart, simple passes. He has the capability to thread the needle between many defenders and put the ball right where his teammates need it, and demonstrates his accuracy nightly. Curry is fifth in the league in assists per game with an average of eight, and is displaying a career-best assist to turnover ratio at an average of two and a half. Along with his precise passing, Curry’s handles have improved dramatically. He is now a premier ball handler in the league and can put even the best defenders on skates.
No wonder his team holds the best record in the league. Curry’s importance to the team is unmatched. He is fourth in the league in Player Efficiency Rating, a statistic that rates player’s per-minute productivity, taking both positive and negative stats into account, along with both offensive and defensive stats. Curry is fourth in Value Added, a stat that measures the number of points a player contributes to a team above what a replacement player would produce, and third in Estimated Wins Added. Along with being first in Plus-Minus (net point differential per 100 possessions) Curry is an emotional leader in the locker room, providing an example of how to play unselfish team basketball.