Game 6 of the 2022 NBA Finals is set for Thursday night. If the Celtics find the skeleton key to beating the Warriors, an epic game 7 will take place. If the Warriors keep their feet on the gas, they'll win their fourth title in seven years. Would that cement Steph Curry as the best point guard of this era? Would this cement Stephen Curry as one of the best point guards of all time?
Comparing Eras Is Dicey
When you ask people about the best point guards of all time, you'll hear a lot of names. Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, and John Stockton are the most common, especially among NBA fans of a certain age. Throw in names like Jerry West, Oscar Robertson, Jason Kidd, and Chris Paul.
Another name is Stephen Curry.
The problem is how do you compare Isiah Thomas to Stephen Curry? Thomas took a total of 1.4 three-pointers a game. Curry's current average is 8.8 per game. That's a ridiculous variance. The game has changed so much since Thomas's era that it is truly unfair to put one against the other.
Do we measure by titles? That's even lamer, as Robert Horry isn't one of the greatest power forwards ever with seven championships. Advanced statistics like VORP or PER are helpful, but if they are used as the sole measuring sticks, that is reductive. Ultimately it becomes a narrative (aka subjective storytelling) comparison. That conclusion is inescapable. Since we know that's where I am headed, remember it's just a subjective opinion.
One of The GOATS
I just said that using stats (simple or analytical ones) doesn't do it justice, but even by those numbers, Curry is one of the greatest of all time. If you want to read those comparisons there's a great piece from 2019 here. Magic Johnson was the only guard whose peak rivaled Curry. From an advanced analytics standpoint, Curry is already at the top of the mountain. Three NBA titles only help add to this narrative, even if we admit that titles aren't everything.
What the traditional and advanced statistics can never truly account for is the way a player changed the era single-handedly. Three-point shooting has been on the rise for the better part of a decade, but Curry's ability to shoot threes so accurately changed how offenses tried to score and the way defenses tried to stop him. Curry needs almost no time to load up his jumper. There was never a player before him who could get a shot up so quickly and from so far away. The YouTube channel SplashLab has a terrific video on just how good Curry's shooting instincts and form are. Even if Curry starts his jumper from an off-balance position, his body immediately centers itself in the air to get a straight release. That's peak body efficiency.
Curry is one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history. The one 'criticism' that traditional NBA fans may have is his low assist totals as a point guard. This is slightly unfair. Just because a player is a scorer does not mean that player cannot also be an effective passer. Curry's scoring ability creates open teammates, and when the pass is available Curry has consistently been able to find them. Curry's 'scorer-forward' point guard template has turned the NBA upside down since his ascendence. The only kind of players who changed the entire game this way have names like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Wilt Chamberlain, Shaquille O'Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Dr. J.
Forget the numbers and the championships. When a player changes the trajectory of the game itself—they're an icon. Stephen Curry is an NBA icon and one of the greatest players to ever put on a uniform. A fourth NBA title would only add another gleam of light onto the shining statue that Curry has among the NBA's greatest.
Steph Curry is a true point God.