Explain One Play: We take Steph Curry for granted

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» Mon Apr 03, 2017 9:22 pm

Have a read of this article. The first two thirds of it go on about Curry's performance late in the game against recently against the Kings but it is the end of the article that is compelling:

The other main MVP candidates are great, but flawed. Russell Westbrook’s team isn’t that good and is hamstrung by his being a system player (the system: Russ controls the ball), and Russ stat-pads. James Harden has been spectacular on offense and in my opinion will win the MVP vote, but is still bad on defense (#75 out of 99 SGs by DRPM, also fits eye test). Kawhi Leonard has astounding robotic efficiency on both ends and plays for the second best, maybe best current team in the league. But his on-off numbers are amazingly bad. The Spurs do fine without him in the lineup, so how valuable has he actually been?

LeBron James was my MVP pick (until the Cavaliers starting stinking up the league), but he and Curry will never win it due to voter fatigue.

Now to our man Curry. For a good start, read Jeremias Engelmann, who pushed Curry for MVP at ESPN.

In short, Curry has the best plus-minus in the league, even better than Kevin Durant’s. This is simply the game margin when you’re on the court. In fact, Curry is on track to have the 4th best plus-minus season in history. (#1 Dray 15-16, #2 Curry 15-16, #3 14-15, #4 LBJ 08-09, #5 Curry this year right now.)

The Warriors are the best team in the league and Curry’s on-off numbers are much stronger than Durant’s.

In fact Curry’s on-off numbers is the highest of the MVP candidates, except for LeBron (+16.9), who is disqualified for mailing it in this last month. This shows how much better or worse your presence makes your team, measured in game margin per 100 possessions.

Curry +15.5
Westbrook +13.7
Durant, +7.4
Harden +1.9
Leonard +0.5

So, Curry is the most impactful player, leader of the best team, he made space for another great talent, boosted up Durant’s stats and let the public say Durant took over the team, and generally gave up his image/reality as the best player in the league, all for winning.

Now let’s look at these crass counting stats, straight out of a 1983 newspaper box score.

We won’t use the stats that really show off Curry’s impact, like advanced stats (Curry #2 in loose balls recovered, #11 deflections, #3 in Defensive Win Shares), hockey-style secondary assists (Curry #1 by a lot), screen assists (Curry #1 for guards by a lot). And no measures of shot difficulty.

First, despite an off-year shooting by his standards, Curry already has the third most three-pointers for a season in history, and will probably move into the #2 position, passing Curry 14-15, behind at #1 the alien who played as Curry in 15-16.

Second, Curry’s season line is 24.9/4.4/6.3/1.7. Kind of a bad year for Curry, right? I wonder how many players have ever put up a mediocre stat line like that? 50? 20?

Let’s list all the players who’ve ever had a season with those stats:

Clyde Drexler 1991-92
Dwyane Wade 2005-06, 2006-07, 2008-09, 2009-10
James Harden 2014-15
Larry Bird 1985-86, 1986-87
LeBron James 2004-05, 2007-08
Michael Jordan 1988-89, 1989-90
Russell Westbrook 2014-15
Stephen Curry 2015-16

A handful of Hall of Famers (current and future) having very good years. But you can reach counting stats by just hogging the ball. Which of the great seasons above had shooting as efficient as Curry’s current True Shooting Percentage of .618? Half? A quarter? Let’s list them:

Stephen Curry 2015-16

Welp. We take Steph Curry for granted, don’t we?

Curry is not close to the best athlete even currently in the nba, probably not even in the top half of current nba players, but he is arguable the most skilled player ever. The fact that he is on his own the last two seasons as the above information indicates is phenomenal.

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