Last week, I asked why Steph Curry wasn’t in the NBA MVP conversation.
A few games later, I’m wondering why he’s not the frontrunner for the award.
I want you to read this sentence extremely carefully, because I mean every word I’m about to write:
Steph Curry is the best basketball player on the planet right now.
“The game speaks for itself,” Curry said about the MVP conversation.
I would agree, but apparently, few can hear it, despite the fact Curry is set to 11 right now.
So let me speak on it. Again.
This time with even more evidence to back up No. 30.
Curry turned in another exceptional, performance Thursday, scoring 40 points in 37 minutes in Golden State’s win over the Orlando Magic. He’s now averaging 30 points per game while shooing 49 percent from the field, 43.5 percent from beyond the arc, and 93 percent shooting at the free-throw line.
That stat line should be familiar — it’s nearly identical to that of his unanimous MVP season, the one I argue is the best offensive campaign in modern NBA history.
He’s on fire. And it looks sustainable, too.
Now, the main argument against Curry being the MVP is that the Warriors are a mediocre team.
Or, as Charles Barkley said on TNT Thursday night: “We all love Steph, but the Warriors stink.”
He’s not wrong. But why isn’t Curry getting credit for that? I say Curry’s lacking teammates are a big reason he is the MVP.
Last year, the Curry-free Warriors finished with the worst record in the NBA. When Curry’s off the court this year, it’s easy to see be reminded how that was the case.
But with Curry this season, the Warriors a playoff team.
If Curry was not already a two-time MVP, if the Warriors were not the dynasty of the 2010s, would such a turn around be celebrated?
While his teammates — particularly the Warriors’ second unit — do everything in their power to lose games, Curry is willing Golden State to wins. He has Golden State two games over .500, two games back of home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, without Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, a Draymond Green who can score double-digit points, or, at the moment, any true centers.
LeBron James has Anthony Davis. Joel Embiid has Ben Simmons. Durant has Kyrie Irving and James Harden. Nikola Jokic has Jamal Murray.
Curry had Juan Toscano-Anderson on Thursday night.
No offense to the Oakland legend, who deserves a big-league contract from the Warriors, but when Curry is riding with a two-way player down the stretch, that tells me something about No. 30’s supporting cast.
Barkley was bound to be right about something.
Teams struggling when their best player is off the court is the norm in the NBA. But this kind of struggle? Some nights it feels like Curry is taking on the opponent and his own team.
Thursday night, against a team the Warriors had no business scrapping, Curry was a plus-16. Eric Paschall, who only plays with Curry off the floor, was minus-22. This isn’t to single out Paschall, who is playing hurt and has been a solid contributor to the Warriors this season — it’s merely an effort to highlight what Curry is going up against. He needs to bring his A-game every night or the Warriors lose. And even when the A-game shows up, they might still lose — a byproduct of the 10 or so minutes he’s off the court.
And yet the Warriors, somehow, someway, are a respectable operation this season.
Their above-.500 record is a reason to celebrate Curry. He’s the reason they have it.
The problem is it seems like so many folks outside the Bay seem to have it out for him. That or they’re willfully ignorant to what he’s doing this season.
The standards he faces are ridiculous. LeBron can be 16th in the NBA in scoring, ninth in assists, and 28th in rebounds for a defending champion team that plays down to opponents and doesn’t have the best record in the conference, but still be lauded as the MVP frontrunner, whereas Curry can be performing at a historic rate — he’s the only player in NBA history who has averaged 30 points per game on 50/40/90 shooting — amid lesser talent and only receive one first-place vote in ESPN’s MVP straw poll, released Wednesday.
MVP is a narrative-based award. There’s no use in denying that.
But what Curry is doing right now is unique.
He’s an all-time great player — the best shooter who ever lived — doing all-time great things. He’s dragging these forgettable Warriors to wins, putting them right in the thick of things in a stacked Western Conference.
And if that’s not a good enough narrative, then I’m not sure we’re watching the same games.
In fact, it makes me wonder if the pundits, influencers, and tastemakers out there — the folks who create national narratives about things like the MVP award — are watching the games at all.
They should turn Curry and the Warriors on. They’re missing a great show.
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