Stephen Curry is the perfect MVP for the NBA in its current state.
Dunks are still as cool as ever, but 3-pointers reign supreme. Sure, 3-pointers are literally worth an extra point more than any other shot, no matter how jaw-dropping a posterizing dunk or an acrobatic finish looks.
But the real value of the 3-pointer is that anyone can conceivably shoot it. Not everyone is blessed with the size or athleticism to dunk, but anyone can learn to shoot. The 3-pointer is the game’s great equaliser. It levels the playing field and puts power in the hands of the smallest players.
Curry is one of those small players, but only in stature. The way he impacts a game is akin to players nearly a foot taller than him.
It’s fitting that the 6-foot-3 guard is only the second Warriors player to win the award, with the other being Wilt Chamberlain in 1959-60.
Chamberlain was as dominant as any player was, is or will be. His stats are unparalleled, he had the ability to win games single-handedly – and often did. Curry hasn’t come close to ‘The Big Dipper’ from a raw numbers standpoint, but despite the massive size difference, the current Warrior is able to similarly dominate games.
Pop quiz: Who’s the most dangerous man on a basketball court? The one who’s open.
Curry is almost always the open man without the need to ever actually get open. From the point he crosses half court, he’s a threat to score. It doesn’t matter if the defence is tight and in his face, he shoots the ball so well that the best defence is praying he misses.
That imminent threat of Curry pulling up from anywhere is what disintegrates defences. It’s nearly impossible to slow him down without compromising your defence in some way and Curry has the playmaking, vision and handles to take advantage.
— NBA (@NBA) May 4, 2015
But as great as the 27-year-old is with the ball in his hands, his impact is comparable to other superstars. What truly separates him from his peers and makes him unique is how scary he is without the orange sphere.
James Harden is deadly when he has the ball and is about to attack. Kyle Korver is lethal when he’s running around screens trying to create enough daylight for a clean look.
Curry combines the feeling of dread for defences in both scenarios by needing to be accounted for every second he’s on the offensive end.
Defences have to be so hyper-aware of his presence at all times because all it takes is a split second for him to burn you.
There are very few, if any, players who compare to Curry in the history of basketball. Steve Nash comes to mind, but even for his incredible efficiency, he never came closer to Curry’s sheer quantity.
If it wasn’t for the time period Curry plays in, however, his greatness would’t be so apparent.
Place Curry back in Chamberlain’s era when there wasn’t a 3-point line or even in the early 1980s when the concept of a 3-point shot was still new and it’s hard to imagine his transcendence overcoming the conventional mindset.
Today we celebrate 3-point shooting, even crave it, and there’s no better player to represent the shift in style of play than Curry.
He’s this season’s MVP, but for the evolution of the sport and its future, he’s so much more.
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