Over the span of the past six months, there are few words within the English dictionary that could accurately describe Stephen Curry and the shooting performances he has blessed the basketball world with in that time. In a way, our sophisticated vocabularies, with words like efficient, remarkable and outstanding, seem to lack the proper raw emotion we would feel from his performances. Whether it’s that drowning humming of a crowd that follows someone after they’ve just been dunked on in a packed gym, or that pandemonium that ensues after someone like myself sees a fellow teammate hit eleven threes in a single game, it’s something that words just can’t seem to express.
At this point, we’ve basically been reduced to a packed gym of spectators just absolutely filled to the brim with the nervous energy that envelops someone when they don’t know if they’ll see history made before their very eyes. Each night, we get emotions that something could happen, whether groundbreaking like at a debut magic act, something captivating like a movie you’ve watched the great trailer for a dozen times before sitting in that dark theater or in our case, the breaking of the single-game threes made record. Simply put, whenever Curry and his suspect ankles step into an NBA arena fully healthy, oozing the confidence we’ve seen since the Golden State Warriors playoff run last season and surrounded by the aura that surrounds the best at one of life’s gifts, its something that’s always at constant danger of occurring.
The question is: at what point do we start comparing Curry to history’s greatest shooters? At what point do we stop with the individual game praise and seasonal highlighting of excellence and begin putting his name next to the Ray Allen‘s, Reggie Miller‘s and Peja Stojakovic‘s of NBA history?
If we begin to load the firewood on the conversation that undoubtedly sparks a flame and grows in strength at the beginning of this season, one can see why such a fuss could be made over the exploits of Curry through his first four seasons in the NBA. Since his rookie season during the 2010-2011 NBA season, Curry has been nothing short of jaw dropping in his long distance kamikaze against opposing teams, hitting 644 threes at a staggering 44-percent clip. Thought of another way, Curry managed to shoot about as well draped by physically larger defenders running full speed around a basketball court from 23 feet or more than 50 players, including the likes of Josh Smith, Dwight Howard, Andrew Bogut and Andre Drummond, could with a free shot from 15 where anything done within 10 seconds is fair game.
If we play the comparison game through their first four seasons in the association, it’s an easy win for Curry against the elite shooters in NBA history as over that span of time, Allen, Miller and Stojakovic managed to cash in on 497, 421 and 430 three pointers, impressive feats no doubt but like placing Allen Iverson next to Shaquille O’Neal in a height contest, something that Curry’s 644 looks very much like alongside the three legends of splash.
When looked at over that course of their careers, I fully understand how such an observation might be underlined. That said, it took Stojakovic 13 seasons to begin drawing comparisons to Larry Bird and others of that height and skill level. It took Miller 18 seasons to achieve the distinction as the greatest shooter of all time and Allen 17 seasons in the NBA to usurp Miller. With that said, when does longevity determine when such a conversation can be had with Curry as a serious challenger to Allen’s crown?
At the end of the day, we can only make one certain conclusion about Curry and his place within NBA history and that is that he is the greatest shooter in the history of the game during his first four seasons. As for the history books and the distinction as the greatest of all time from long range, the various health question marks will always surround Curry on the basketball court. Let’s just let time play itself out, healthy seasons be strung together, threes be made in boat loads and then revisit such conversations when a body of work, not the beginning stencil sketching of Curry’s career, begins to take shape.