4. Stephen Curry
With his speedy release and silky smooth ball handling ability, fans have become infatuated with watching Golden State Warriors point guard Steph Curry perform on a highly basis. Curry softens the most hardened of defenses with seemingly impossible three point makes, that mirror the ones you may see in a game of NBA2K14. Defenses become incensed when Curry is drilling the shots they are begging him to take, and the Oracle Arena crowd is sent into a frenzy, as Stephen puts on a circus act with unimaginable three point precision.
For Steph, the most celebrated aspect of his game may be his accuracy from behind the arc, but he's becoming a well rounded player that has kept GSW's hopes of a deep playoff run intact despite the plethora of injuries the team has endured. The desired starting lineup of Curry, Thompson, Iguodala, Lee and Bogut have only played a total of 43 games together, as each player has been attempting to cope with nagging injuries. Curry has played the most amount of games out of those aforementioned players, competing in 76 games, only second to Klay Thompson's participation in 78 contests.
For Curry this is impressive, as he's dealt with his fare share of injuries to his ankles throughout his early career. The sign of durability and dependability is encouraging for GSW as well, knowing they can depend on a top tier point guard to always be at their disposal against the stiffest of competition. With a roster that bolsters as much talent as the Dubs do on paper, the 6th seed seems to be somewhat disappointing, but all of the injuries could've had them in a much more unfortunate position.
Golden State can move up before next Saturday's playoffs commence, but to do so they will need some luck and or a some virtuoso performances from Stephen Curry. The performances don't seem to be an issue, as Curry led GSW on Friday with 30 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds in only 35 minutes of work against the lowly Los Angeles Lakers.
On the season, Curry is averaging 23.6 PPG (career high,) 8.5 APG (career high,) and 4.3 RPG. The former Davidson Wildcat is shooting 47% from the field and 42% from three showing that consistency is highly in his favor. His usage rate is as high as it's ever been (28.2 up from 26.4 last year) but Golden State is content with this, as Curry has delivered time and time again for the championship hungry team.
In statistics among point guards, Curry is 1st in scoring, 4th in rebounds, 2nd in FGM and FG%, 6th in assists and 3rd in double-doubles with 27, which includes 4 triple-doubles. Curry is 7th in scoring amongst all players, and his 247 three point field goal makes can be accredited to this. Curry is more than a 3 point specialist, but drilling bombs from beyond the arc is what he does better than anyone else, and this is what makes him incredibly lethal. From the 5 major three point areas on the court (right corner, right wing, straight ahead, left wing, left corner,) Curry is shooting 37% or better from each area. Omit the right corner, and Curry is shooting above 40% from all of the other spots.
Curry also thrives in crunch time, as his performances in the clutch place him statistically as one of the top clutch players in the league. In the 38 games that have produced "crunch time" Curry is averaging 3.4 PPG which is 6th among qualifying players. He's shooting an 41% in these situations, higher than the likes of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
On pull-up jumpers, Curry is shooting 60% from the floor. On step-back jump shots, Steph is shooting 65% from the field. This is remarkable, as most defenses would be content with a player having to consistently knock down a shot of that nature. With a player of Curry's caliber, defenses are forced to adjust accordingly, and just when they do so, Curry uses his wizard like ball handling ability and craftiness to get others involved along with creating for himself.
Curry is averaging a career high in assists, as he's grown more comfortable with playing the point guard position. His assists have generated 1,440 points the highest of his career and 259 more points than last year. He is averaging nearly 4 turnovers per game, (3.8,) but the climb in that figure shouldn't be too surprising as it was mentioned before that Curry's usage rate has increased. If Golden State wants to shake things up in the western conference, Steph has to devote himself to having that turnover per game number shrink when the playoffs begin.
Steph is able to slice and dice through the defense when they attempt to take away his air space, as his sly and quick movements allow him for effective and deadly penetration. He can dump it off to one of his talented bigs for a layup or dunk, or sling it out to the other "Splash Brother," Klay Thompson for a three point bomb. Curry is playing calm, cool and collected basketball and he hopes to lead Golden State on a furious run in the postseason. With a win in Portland tonight, the Warriors will have their first 50 win season since 1993-1994. Curry would've only been 6 years old. The 26 year old hopes to cement his own legacy in GSW, as that passionate fan base yearns for a major accomplishment.
If anyone can bring these accomplishments it's Curry. He's recognized as one of the leagues top point guards and players, but to truly become respected he must generate some type of postseason success for the Dubs. Right now would be a fantastic time to start, and if a surprising deep postseason run occurs for GSW, Curry could easily find himself moving up on this list.
*All statistics were researched BEFORE GSW's game against Portland on Sunday.
*Steph Curry is the first player to make 250 three's in multiple seasons
Do you think Stephen Curry is a top 5 point guard in the NBA? Should he be ranked higher or lower? Hit me on Twitter with thoughts (@wcboyer24) and remember to continue to support The Basketball Society.