After Stephen Curry‘s unbelievable 54-point game against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on February 27th, there has been much debate among not only Warriors fans, but also among fans and analysts all around the country, as to how Steph Curry ranks among the best point guards in the NBA. Before we discuss the other point guards, let’s analyze Curry’s season so far.
As of March 30th, Curry averages 22.4 points/game, 6.8 assists/game, 4 rebounds/game, 44.6% shooting from the field, 45.2% from 3-point range, and 89.4% from the free throw line. Curry ranks 7th in the NBA for points/game, 1st in 3-point field goal attempts and makes, 3rd in 3-point field goal percentage, and 18th in assists/game. Curry’s 54-point game was also an NBA season-high. Watch highlights of that game below:
Clearly, Curry has an extremely impressive stat line this season. When ranking the best players in the NBA though, we have to analyze the intangibles as well. One of Curry’s greatest attributes is how mature he is at the young age of 25. On the basketball side, Curry has a high basketball IQ, is a student of the game, and is a hard worker. On the personal side, Curry is extremely humble, he’s one of the main vocal leaders on the Warriors, and he’s completely selfless.
Curry also had the privilege of watching his father, Dell Curry, play in the NBA, so he’s been able to model his game and his life off-the-court just like his father did. Both Steph’s parents claim that the point guard role for him is perfect, because he always wants to make everyone around him better. According to his coach at Davidson College, Bob McKillop, Steph was the ultimate student-athlete and role model. McKillop also said, “With Steph, excellence is not an act. Excellence is a habit.” These qualities are why Steph was drafted by the Warriors with the 7th pick in the 2009 draft, even though some criticized his size, his lack of athleticism, and his lack of experience as a point guard. Watch more of what Steph’s parents and coaches had to say about him below:
Even though Curry has many attributes needed in order to be a successful point guard in the NBA, many NBA analysts were skeptical of his ability to play the point guard position in the NBA, because he had only played point guard his junior year at Davidson.
In his first couple seasons in the league, Curry was called a pure shooter, but wasn’t considered one of the top point guards in the league, until this season. Curry has always been a good passer, but, this season, he’s averaging the most assists/game (6.8) in his career. When playing against the Warriors, opposing teams are focusing the majority of their defensive effort on containing Curry’s shooting, so, as a result, Curry is usually doubled or trapped near the 3-point line, which makes him more able to get his teammates involved. His incredible performances on the offensive end have truly helped him become an even better point guard. Watch more about his development as a point guard and a leader here.
On the defensive end, Curry certainly has more work to do. Even though Warriors Head Coach Mark Jackson has categorized Curry’s defense as “elite” in the NBA, Curry can still improve on his on-ball defense. He does put in consistent effort into the team’s defense as a whole though. “I wouldn’t call myself a lockdown defender by any stretch of the imagination,” Curry said. “But being able to be in the right positions and stay aggressive, and stick to our game plan, that’s my responsibility as part of that five-man defense.” Curry isn’t amongst the best defenders out of point guards, but his offense has been so impressive this season, that he still deserves to be in the discussions for the best point guards in the league.
Who are the top 10 point guards in the league then? This is constantly debated in the basketball community, but Chris Paul is the best point guard in the league. His ability to make his teammates better and his performance in the clutch is undeniably the best.
After that, ranking the rest of the best point guards becomes more difficult. If the ranking is based on overall value (not just this season), the 2-5 spots should include Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose (when healthy), and Tony Parker.
The players in the 2-5 spots could be in any order, since all four of those point guards are extremely talented for different reasons.
After the top 5, it’s still tight competition for the 6-10 spots. Those spots would probably include Kyrie Irving, Stephen Curry, Deron Williams, and the last two spots would come down to Jrue Holiday, Ty Lawson, Steve Nash, or maybe Damian Lillard.
Therefore, Curry is arguably the 6th or 7th best point guard in the NBA. This is a pretty impressive feat, given that his ability to play point guard was seriously questioned. Curry certainly has a bright future ahead of him.