Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry made headlines when he dropped 54 points on the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden on national television, serving notice to anyone who wasn’t aware of his ability that Curry could play with the best of them. Curry’s 54-point explosion came after he lit up the Indiana Pacers for 38 points just the night before. With Curry on such a hot streak, one can begin to speculate if Stephen Curry belongs in the conversation of the NBA’s best point guards.
Curry, now in his fourth NBA season, could always score. That was evident from his exploits at Davidson where he averaged 25.3 points in three seasons, including 28.6 points his junior year before declaring for the 2009 NBA draft. Given that Curry is only 6’3” there were concerns from scouts whether Curry could be converted to a point guard full-time due to his lack of ideal NBA shooting guard height after playing the role of a scorer throughout his prolific college career. Curry also tested with just so-so quickness at the NBA combine, further amplifying the concerns of what position he would play in the NBA.
The Warriors selected Curry sixth overall and he quickly put the doubters to rest. Curry used his slick ball-handling skills and his beautiful shooting stroke to average 17.5 points, 5.9 assists while shooting .432 from three-point range as a rookie, all numbers that would qualify as above average for any NBA guard. Curry was just as solid during his second season and averaged 18.6 points with 5.8 assists while playing three less minutes per game. Not bad at all for a kid from a mid major NCAA conference.
But in Curry’s third season is when things hit a snag. Curry began experiencing recurring ankle injuries that caused him to 40 of the 66 games of the 2011-2012 season and eventually led to surgery. There was doubt if Curry could ever fully shake the ankle issues enough to be a consistent threat.
But Curry again has quieted the doubters and is having his best season so far, averaging 22.2 points, 6.6 assists and hitting 45% of his three-point attempts. Curry has emerged as one of the best players in the NBA under 25 – his 25th birthday is March 14 – and clearly one of the best young point guards in the NBA today. But is he good enough to be considered top-5?
When it comes to NBA point guards the standard is set by Chris Paul, depending on who you ask. Some would place Tony Parker high on their list. Deron Williams was in the debate for the best PG in the game before this season, where he hasn’t quite lived up to the billing. Russell Westbrook is pretty high on the ranking as well. Rajon Rondo is an assist machine when healthy. Even fellow young point guards Kyrie Irving and Jrue Holiday have thrust themselves into the conversation.
Curry may not be the floor general that Paul is nor the athletic marvel of a Russell Westbrook, but Curry’s ability to take over a game offensively from the perimeter and with his handle is rare for a point guard. The fact that Curry is even contributing close to seven assists a game is a testament to his knack for keeping his teammates involved while also scoring over 20 points per game.
CP3 may still be the best point guard in the NBA, followed by Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo and for my money Stephen Curry. Curry has a slight edge over Kyrie Irving because Curry appears to be a better passer than Irving at this stage of his career and a much better perimeter shooter than Holiday.
With Curry, Irving and Holiday all 25 or younger, the future of the point guard position in the NBA will be in good hands for years to come.