It probably wasn't until his seventh rebound that I said to myself "this kid really has a shot at being the MVP this season." And when Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry finished with a stat line of 34 points, four steals, five assists and 10 rebounds, it officially became time to have "the conversation".
The MVP conversation.
Entering last night's game, Curry was leading the league in points per game (27.7), steals per game (3.5) and is ranked second in player efficiency (29.8). In the twilight of this season, Curry's making a great case for being the first MVP in Golden State since 1960 when Wilt Chamberlain led the league in points (37.6), rebounds (27), minutes per game (46.4) and was second in offensive/defensive win shares.
If the past is any indication, it seems the key to winning the regular season MVP trophy is to not only do a variety of things, but to do them well. Being the first point guard to win the MVP trophy since Steve Nash in the 2004-2005 season isn't a tall order for Curry. With both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook out, Derrick Rose's tendency to miss games in addition to voters lack of interest in seeing LeBron James hoist the trophy again, currently it's Curry's for the taking.
What's most encouraging is the idea that Curry has gotten better this season and seems to be thriving this season under Steve Kerr's strategy of setting up Stephen to be an equal threat on-and-off the ball. Considering that he'll have a more productive season, his chances at an MVP are encouraging if you consider that Curry's contributions as a whole trump Durant's last season. In the 2013-14 season Curry ranked fifth in offensive win shares, fifth in assists per game (8.5). He averaged 1.6 steals per game and was fourth in overall win shares (13.4).
Statistically, there are few things previous MVP's had in common. Beyond being the leader at their respective position, in the last five seasons the MVP also was the league leader in overall win shares. None of the previous five MVP's have averaged less than 25 points and all previous MVP winners combined averaged a 31.8 percent usage rate. Curry was averaging that 27.7 points with a 31.7 percent usage rate. Fact is, MVP candidates need the ball and they need it often.
MVP's are clutch
Carrying your squad in late games is of extreme importance and is always held in the highest regard when discussing the league's top player. While Kevin Durant hit 40.8 percent of his shots within four seconds of the shot clock running out, Curry is dropping 57.1 percent of his last second shots.
Possessing the ability to be counted on in the final stretches of a game is the highest measure of personal and team success in the league. Although the W's have seen some progression from Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and have reliable veterans in David Lee, Andre Iguodala and Andrew Bogut, there's no question that Curry's the man. He's priority number one.
Worst case scenario Curry is overlooked again when it's time to vote on the NBA's best. In the event that happens at least the W's will advance further into the post season than they have in a while. It is a team sport after all, however Golden State's been vacant from the individual accolades as of recent. It's time they get some shine.