Steph Curry crosses over into rarified airFriday, May 14, 2021
BY MARK ARCHER
WHILE commenting on the Golden State Warriors 118-97 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder last Thursday night (May 6), TNT analyst Shaquille O'Neal assertively dubbed Steph Curry the NBA's best player – fellow analysts Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley unanimously agreed.
These analysts, who were standout players in the National Basketball Association (NBA) themselves, will find little argument from basketball purists when the totality of the league's leading scorer is considered.
Over his last 15 games Curry has registered an enviable average of 37.0 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game, with 46.7 per cent shooting from 3-point territory. He is the first player in NBA history to average at least 35 points a game on 50-40-90 (fifty per cent from the field, forty per cent from three-point range and ninety per cent from the free throw line) shooting for one full month.
Curry is ending the season on a mind-blowing surge and has gotten his name inserted into the Most Valuable Player (MVP) conversation – but leapfrogging the current frontrunners (Denver Nuggets's Nikola Jokic, Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid and Phoenix Suns' Chris Paul) may only be a pipedream for Warriors' fans. However, Curry has recently elevated himself to rare-air, joining Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant as the leading players with over thirty 30-point games in their 12th season or later – Jordan had 44 and Bryant had 36.
When Curry was the unanimous NBA MVP for the 2015-16 season, he racked up 30.1 points and 6.7 assists per game, while shooting 50.4 per cent overall and 45.4 per cent from three-point land. This season, the 33-year-old is averaging 31.9 points and 5.7 assists while shooting 48.6 per cent from the field and 42.6 per cent from beyond the arc.
MVP or not, Curry has hit a career-high 12.4 threes per game this season which ranks second to James Harden's 2018-2019 season in which he had 13.2. However, Curry is shooting 42.6 per cent from beyond the arc while James Harden was at just under 37 per cent in his record-setting year, and Curry's 307 made triples already ranks in the top five in NBA history (in an abbreviated season).
The NBA is playing a 72-game season this year due to the coronavirus pandemic and the delayed finish to last season but Curry has never played a full 82 games in his NBA career, with his career-high being 80 games in his rookie season as well as the 2014-15 campaign when he won his first NBA MVP. If he missed eight games in a normal season, as he has this year, a 5.4-average three-pointers made per game over 74 games would end up with 400 three-pointers – just two less than his all-time NBA record of 402 (set during his 2016 MVP-year).
Curry will likely pass his 324 total threes from the 2016-2017 season but the Warriors will need to go deep into the play-offs if he hopes to surpass the 354 he drained during the 2018-2019 season.
Curry, at 33 and in his twelfth season, has proved he is far from finished and is primed to win the second NBA scoring title of his career. He is averaging 31.6 points per game (slightly ahead of the Washington Wizards' Bradley Beal at 31.1) and has single-handedly lifted the Warriors into the play-off picture.
With Curry on the floor, the Warriors are a better team not only because of his superhuman shooting prowess, but his presence ensures open looks for his teammates. Unfortunately, oftentimes these open looks do not translate into made shots and Curry is left to carry the load. Furthermore, despite an emaciated roster and the loss of five-time All-Star Klay Thompson for the second-consecutive season, Curry has put in the work and soldiered on, seemingly unbothered (at least to the outside observer).
The Warriors impressively beat the league-leading Utah Jazz 119-116 on Monday (May 10) then followed up with a 122-116 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday (May 11), and should finish as the eighth seed in the West with the expectation of facing the Los Angeles Lakers in the 'Seven-Eight' play-in game. They have played in half of the NBA's 10 most-watched games this season due mainly to the exploits of Curry, and ratings from Golden State games are reportedly up 103 per cent from last season. Particularly, the Warriors vs Boston Celtics game on April 17 drew a mammoth 2.5 million viewers – a figure that would look impressive even outside the pandemic-affected season.
The Warriors round off their season against the New Orleans Pelicans tonight and close the curtains on the regular season against the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday night. The Pelicans and Grizzlies have major designs on the postseason so these games should attract massive viewership.
The NBA Play-In Tournament begins on Tuesday, May 18 and twenty-three of the 30 teams still have a fighting chance for the eight play-in opportunities and the twelve play-off positions. Therefore, every remaining regular season game will have seeding implications and the twenty-nine games to be played between tonight (Friday) and Sunday night should be enthralling.
JustBet continues to offer attractive betting options on all popular sports and events (including esports and virtual games) as soon as they become available. Please visit one of the over 100 locations (or visit mobile.justbetja.com) for details and place your bets on the prediction of your choice for maximum winnings...Get in the GAME!
Brooklyn Nets 3.30
Los Angeles Lakers 5.40
Los Angeles Clippers 6.60
Utah Jazz 7.80
Milwaukee Bucks 8.60
Philadelphia 76ers 9.20
Phoenix Suns 14.00
Denver Nuggets 25.00
Miami Heat 30.00
Dallas Mavericks 40.00
*Only top 10 odds shown (see website for full list).
*Odds are subject to change.