Curry: The World Stands Still For The Chef
The 2015-16 NBA regular season will go down as one of the most entertaining we’ve seen in modern history. We witnessed a well-deserved farewell tour to one of its greatest ambassadors; the “Black Mamba” Kobe Bryant. However, the biggest reoccurring headline of the regular season belonged to the Golden State Warriors as they achieved something I personally thought couldn’t be accomplished in a lifetime – breaking the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls’ all-time regular season record of 72-10 with their victory over the Memphis Grizzlies, to set their 73-9 mark.
This undoubtedly is the greatest regular season performance by any team in the basketball league’s history and it couldn’t have happened if the one man constellation had not led with unstoppable pomp all season long; that star being Wardell Stephen ‘Steph’ Curry, is likeliest to emerge as the first ever unanimous regular season MVP.
From my years of following the NBA, I am yet to witness a player dominate a regular season in the form of what we are witnessing in Curry. This past regular season, he put to rest any doubt following the controversy of last year’s close battle to the MVP status where he narrowly edged James Harden of the Houston Rockets to the 2014-15 KIA NBA MVP award. Many argued that Harden deserved the shield instead with his superior scoring average of 27.4% points per game to that of Curry’s 23.8% and I’m sure this didn’t go too well with the Akron, Ohio native. Curry’s unimaginable improvement from last year’s performance was a big ‘WATCH THIS’ from Curry to his peers who voted James Harden the season’s MVP at the inaugural NBA Players’ awards last July.
“When I step forward on the floor, I have the confidence that I am the best player playing that night and that I am the most prepared at what I need to be doing” Curry said after speaking to USA Today Sports following his team’s sealing of the all-time regular season record. Curry just happened to score 46 points while making ten 3-pointers in their final regular season game.
It’s quite unbelievable how far we’ve come from watching Curry mature to this basketball offensive juggernaut; when nearly 4 years ago he underwent an arthroscopic surgery on his right ankle that had plagued the early years of his young career. This prompted many to wonder if his ‘glass ankles’ could deter him from potential greatness. But now we’re here and we’re only spectators to the evolution of basketball’s complexion by the greatest shooter the game has ever seen.
‘Chef Curry’ as he’s popularly referred to on social media has elevated his game to a whole new level from his previous MVP performance last year. Not since his ‘Airness’ Michael Jordan have we seen a player instill so much fear in an opposing team. He joins MJ as the only perimeter players since the NBA/ABA merger in 1976 to average 30 points a game while shooting 50-plus %. Jordan achieved this crazy stat in the 1991-92 regular season.
He dominates the game offensively to an extent that it instills fear not just in defenders but also when the opposing team gets possession of the ball, thus putting them in immense pressure to be more efficient because they know there’s little or nothing they can do to stop him.
I’ll use the words of the 3rd all-time leading scorer in the game’s history to buttress my point. Kobe Bryant in an effort to describe Curry’s current reign as the league’s most lethal weapon said while talking to ESPN “I think it’s hard for the fans to really understand what I am saying, because most players don’t get it. There’s a serious calmness about him which is extremely deadly, because he’s not up, he’s not down. He’s not contemplating what just happened before, or worrying about what’s to come next. He’s just there. When you mix this with his calmness and poise then you have a serious serious problem on your hands”.
Most high volume 3-point accuracy shooters depend on a good assist for a ‘catch and shoot’ but not Curry. His impeccable ball handling mixed with speed and his ability to go left/right helps him create his own shot in a way I have never seen before. Here’s an amazing stat, Curry has made over 55% of his 3-pointers this season unassisted.
Back to the MVP topic, Curry has elevated his game to a whole new level from last year. He led the league in scoring; improving on his last year tally of averaging 23.8 points per game to a staggering 30.1ppg. Not since the great Larry Bird in the 1984-85 season has a reigning MVP improved his scoring average the way Curry did.
So is he the most improved player in the league? The funny, most obvious answer to this is yes.
Curry just obliterated his all-time record of 3-points made in a single regular season of 286 last year by a whopping 40% increase. He set the all-time record after scoring his 10th 3-pointer of the game against the Grizzlies making it 402 made 3-pointers in a single season; same day his team happened to set the 73-9 record. Please note that no other player has reached 300 made 3-pointers. Staggering right?
He didn’t stop there, the ‘Chef’ averaged 50.4% from the field which is an increase from 48.7% last year; also improving on his 3pt % from 44.3% to 45.4%. He also led the league in free-throw shooting accuracy with 90.8%. And make no mistakes about it, Curry is not all about offence. He just led the league in steals averaging 2.14 per game.
To those who still doubt his greatness with the occasional ‘he can only shoot’ phrase, many fail to realize just how dominant a scorer he has become from inside the paint. Curry ranks first in the league in field goal percentage from the restricted area among guards who attempt at least four such shots per game.
This 6’3 slender figured man is unstoppable and the scary part is that he’s just 28. Although he can’t dominate the game with flashy dunks like the MJs and Lebrons of this world but he can literally dribble past the half way line and shoot from 40 feet comfortably the same way many players do 10 feet away from the rim; an offensive arsenal that can’t be matched by anyone in the league. Like Jordan, he is helping the NBA to globalize the sport but in a different way; now players who aren’t physically built like trees can easily pick up the ball, work on their ball and shooting to a devastating effect.
Surely practice can’t be the only recipe to emulate Curry’s success in the sport, you’ll definitely need the talent as well, but it makes us wonder how many new kids in the block want to ‘be like Curry’, the best player in the NBA today.