In a sport where so much is up for debate and speculation, the NBA’s media panel (and one fan vote) made a decision this week that drew very little conjecture: naming Steph Curry, the Golden State Warriors’ point guard, the league’s first unanimous Most Valuable Player.
Curry swept every single first-place vote, well ahead of the league’s runner-up, San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard. So what has made Curry so unquestionably loved by media members and fans, two groups who rarely come to agreement on anything?
It’s simply that Curry hasn’t left much room for debate. Curry’s season in a vacuum is already one of the most impressive we’ve seen from a player in NBA history, but taking his season in the context of shooters of years past, and Curry’s season really jumps off the page.
Curry led the league in scoring this season, scoring 30.1 PPG. While that’s impressive, he also became the first player in league history to average 30 PPG in less than 35 minutes per game. Curry hit the most three-pointers in the league, and also shattered the league record for threes in season (that he set last year) by 40 per cent.
Curry also joined the 50/40/90 club, becoming the seventh member ever shooting more than 50% from the field, 40% from three, and 90% from the free-throw line. That’s an impressive feat, but again, Curry did it better. Curry also became the third member of the 50/45/90 club. Of those groups, Curry had the highest scoring average, took more 3-pointers than anyone else in the league’s history, and was the most used player of the groups.
Curry’s eFG% was one of the top-25 highest in NBA history, which might not seem so impressive until you consider that the other 24 players on that list are big men. Curry’s shooting this season has been off the charts, the best we’ve seen in the history of the league. Impressive, considering the defense Curry has had forced on him this season.
Using ESPN’s and the NBA’s advanced statistics, Curry took just 21% of his attempts on open looks. Only two players took more contested threes than Curry, and only one player shot a better percentage (JJ Reddick), but Curry made more than double the amount of Reddick.
Curry took more than 60% of his threes contested, and 470 of them were off the dribble and contested. Curry made 200 of them. That mark is more than 26 different teams.
As a passer and distributor, Curry also proved his worth. Curry led the league in high-quality looks created for teammates. On defense, Curry shined as well, leading the league in steals. Curry became the first player to lead the league in scoring and steals since Allen Iverson.
Curry’s revolution of the NBA has caught people off guard, with opposing players and former players and coaches doing their best to dismiss Curry’s performance last season. Curry was criticized for being too much of a shooter, taking ill-advised shots and shooting at a higher volume than other point guards.
But Curry’s efficiency this season has silenced those naysayers.
Curry, just before his MVP award was officially announced, even silenced one last crowd. As the injured guard sat during Golden State’s series with Portland, a section of fans and analysts began to debate whether Curry was indeed the most valuable player, as Golden State continued to look dominant in his absence.
In his first game back, Curry struggled to shake the rust. But in the fourth quarter and overtime, Curry turned in the definition of an MVP performance: rallying the Warriors back and scoring an NBA-record 17 points in the overtime period.
Once again, Curry had shown the world what he was capable of.
Curry’s second MVP feels much sweeter than the first, with the Charlotte native absolutely torching records and lighting defenders on fire. Not much has stood in the way with Curry on the floor, and the Warriors are looking to clinch the series at home.
And if the encore continues like this, I can’t wait to see the final act.