The MVP Case for Steph Curry

The MVP Case for Steph Curry

by May 18, 2021 1 comment

In the first game with fans back in the Chase Center, Stephen Curry received “M-V-P” chants throughout the night. Ironically, the April 23 matchup was against Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets.

With the NBA regular season concluded, Jokic is the consensus MVP, and he certainly has a convincing case. However, given the incredible season that Curry has presented, a case for his own MVP candidacy must be made. 

Related: Curry Torches Grizzlies and Warriors Finish Season Strong

Heat Level: 10

In the 2015-16 NBA season, Curry set the league on fire. As the unanimous and two-time MVP, he averaged 30.1 points per game, along with 5.4 rebounds, 6.7 assists, and an impressive 2.1 steals per game. Curry posted his second straight 50/40/90 season, and his true shooting percentage was .669, the highest of his career at that time. The guard posted the highest player efficiency rating in the NBA that year, and his 17.9 total win shares blew the league out of the water. 

The Golden State Warriors went 73-9 in Curry’s incredible season only to blow a 3-1 lead to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2016 NBA Finals. After Curry seemed to establish himself as possibly the best player on the planet, LeBron James swatted that hope down, along with Andre Iguodala’s fourth quarter layup. In 2016-17, Kevin Durant joined the Warriors and Curry had not returned to MVP usage or MVP form since. 

Turn it Up to 11

Then we have the 2020-21 NBA Season. Kevin Durant has flown off to Brooklyn, and Klay Thompson is sitting out his second consecutive season after tearing his Achilles on draft night. The prevailing national thought was that Curry did not have the capability to carry Golden State to any sense of contention. Steph took on the challenge, averaging 32 points per game, winning the NBA scoring title, and setting even more records. 

Achievements by Curry in 2021:

Fourth player all-time to have multiple MVPs, scoring titles and championships. Curry joins Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain

32.0 PPG (led NBA)

Oldest to win scoring title since Jordan

38 30-point games, most since Jordan

337 threes (led NBA)

Fourth season of 300-plus three-pointers (most in history)

Seven games of 10-plus three-pointers (most in history)

5.3 three-pointers made per game (most in history)

Broke Warriors all-time scoring record

Plus-220 plus/minus rating (led NBA)

The Warriors are 14.2 points per 100 possessions better when Curry is on the floor than when he is off, and score an amazing 16.1 points per 100 possessions more. Those numbers rank in the 98th and 100th percentiles, respectively. Curry also has plus-4.7 efficiency differential equating to a 53-win team, only 35 wins better than what the Warriors would be without him on the court. Granted, he missed a few games this season (Jokic did not), but without Curry the Warriors were 2-7. This only proves the statistical argument of how valuable Curry is to his team, and is accentuated by the plus/minus rating. 

Next Level

Lastly, there’s the eye test. Jokic makes some impressive shots and dishes out some impressive passes to cutters. Watching Steph Curry, however, is unlike watching any other basketball player. The reactions of fans in the old Oracle Arena and now in the Chase Center are different than those reactions of NBA fans to any other player. When Curry gets hot, and that is often, they can sense it coming. And when he hits that 35-foot shot to make the crowd erupt and the opposing coach take a much needed timeout, there is no more exciting sight to behold. 

The NBA has made “Most Valuable Player” hard to define. The purpose here is not to merely compare Jokic or Joel Embiid to Curry, but to highlight the incredible season Curry has given to NBA fans around the world who needed something incredible to watch for the last 6 months. Curry deserves the votes, as he was the most valuable player on the court for his team and for those fans off the court, as well. 

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MJ is the host of "Next Man Up w/MJ Hurley" and "eXamining the XFL" MJ is also a reporter at Fansided for Oakland A's and at XFL Board.

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