Warriors: Should Stephen Curry Be Considered an Elite Point Guard?

January 9, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry (30) looks on during the second quarter against the Memphis Grizzlies at Oracle Arena. The Grizzlies defeated the Warriors 94-87. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

When an NBA fan hears the name “Stephen Curry”, they would probably characterize him a point guard in a shooting guard’s body. They would continue by saying that Curry is a jump shooter, and he that not the best passer. However, the fourth year point guard from Davidson is averaging 6.6 Assists-Per-Game (APG), which is good enough for 12th overall in the NBA. While Curry is not an elite passer [yet], the statistics say that he should get more credit as an overall point guard and not just as a deadly jump shooter. Even though Curry is more well-known for his shooting ability, he is still an efficient passer, and is a great point guard that does not get the kind of national attention he deserves.

One of the essential characteristics of an “elite” point guard is an exceptional passing ability, but he must also lower his unforced turnovers, perform well in the clutch and be efficient with the ball. Russell Westbrook, who many NBA analysts consider a truly elite point guard, has 34 more total turnovers this season in comparison to Curry.

Curry has also been more careful with the basketball than his counterpart and competitor Jrue Holiday. Holiday is a talented player, averaging 8.7 APG, but he is also averaging a dreadful 3.8 Turnovers-Per-Game (TOPG). On the other hand, Curry is averaging only 3 TOPG. How does Stephen Curry perform in the clutch in comparison to other great point guards such as Westbrook, Paul, and Parker?

When the game is on the line, and the Golden State Warriors need two big free throws, they can definitely count on the Golden State point guard to swish home two buckets. Curry makes almost 91% of his free throws each game. His closest competitor is Paul, who shoots about 89% from the charity strike each game. Finally, there’s just one more key thing to point out in regards to Stephen’s value as a leader on the court: his efficiency rating. Curry’s efficiency rating this season is better than the likes of stars Deron Williams, Kyrie Irving, Jrue Holiday, and Damian Lillard.

However, the most obvious reason why Stephen Curry deserves an amount of national exposure similar to guys like Paul, Westbrook, Parker, etc., is his ability to frustrate opposing with his exceptional perimeter shooting and defensive instincts.

The first full year after trading Monta Ellis hasn’t hindered Curry’s statistics or his overall development as a perimeter shooter. The former Davidson product has made defenders cry with his three point shooting; He boasts an absurd 45% per game from behind the three point arc. Not only that, but nba.com’s “Clutch Points” stats show that Stephen Curry has more Clutch Points in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter than elite point guards Westbrook, Paul, Williams, and Parker.

Let’s also remember that the former NBA Sportsmanship Award winner is capable of scoring in bunches; the New York Knicks found that out the hard way when Curry dropped 54 points on them at Madison Square Garden. Curry’s defensive skills are also often underplayed. The Warriors player tops other elite players like Brooklyn’s Deron Williams and Denver’s Ty Lawson in Steals-Per-Game.

The numbers never lie. Stephen Curry should have been selected for the 2013 All Star Game, and he definitely has the statistics to make his case as an elite point guard.

Irving is a great point guard, but he has only recorded 5.7 APG to Curry’s current 6.6, so why does Irving get more national attention than Curry? It seems as though Williams’ Brooklyn Nets, Curry’s Golden State Warriors, Westbrook’s Oklahoma City Thunder, Chris Paul’s Los Angeles Clippers, and Tony Parker’s San Antonio Spurs are all heading to the postseason, which makes them the current top 5 or “elite” point guards in the league. Kyrie Irving is a spectacular player, but the Cavaliers need to start have winning seasons before he can make a case for joining the category of elite point guards. When the stats are laid out, a list of the top elite point guards for 2012-2013 might look like this:

  1. Tony Parker
  2. Chris Paul
  3. Russell Westbrook
  4. Stephen Curry
  5. Deron Williams

Curry is #4 on the list so far, but there is so much potential for the 25 year old point guard that he may out-play the likes of Westbrook, Paul and Parker in the future. There’s even a possibility that Stephen Curry will be putting up outstanding numbers with his younger brother Seth Curry, if the Warriors decide to draft him.

Check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.

Topics: Golden State Warriors, Stephen Curry

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