In what was arguably the best single week of his career, Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry broke the kind of records that you can really only appreciate by acknowledging that you never really never imagined witnessing a player do the things that he does in your wildest fantasies.
Like, cheat codes that video game designers can't even really account for it properly, as reported by Ben Sin of Forbes Magazine.
To help us all wrap our heads around what Curry did last week, in one place so I'll just leave that here so we're all on the same page about what happened in case you missed one of the many insane things that happened last week.
I promised crazy milestones and numbers on Curry, and here they are after Saturday's latest display of excellence:
He's the first player in NBA history to make 10 or more 3-pointers in back-to-back games.
He tied the NBA record for 3-pointers in a game with 12.
He broke his own NBA record for 3-pointers in a season with 287. Yes, he broke the record for 3-pointers in a season with 24 games to go. That's right. 24. He now has the three best 3-point totals in NBA history.
He now has 5 double-digit 3-point games in his career. Nobody else in NBA history has more than three.
Saturday night's game winner was his 11th shot made this season from 30 feet or more, in 22 attempts. Nobody else in the NBA has more than 2.
Ready for more? Here's what he did on Thursday night in Orlando:
He became the first player ever to make 10 3s and 10 2s in the same game.
He became the first player ever to score over 50 points without making at least two free throws.
He broke Kyle Korver's record for consecutive games with a 3-pointer with 128. An under-reported stat within a stat: Curry has now made a 3-pointer in 204 out of his last 205 games. He had an 84-game streak snapped one game before starting his current one.
And since it's not made entirely clear from that breakdown, Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News made another important point: having already broken his single-season record for threes, he's on pace to hit 400 if he continues his season average of hitting five threes per game.
Curry now has made 288 three-pointers of the season... breaking his record of 286 last season... with 24 games left to play.
* He's headed to 400. I said he'd do it a few weeks into the season and said he might even get to 500; Curry laughed at the prospect (and still was sort of chuckling about it on Friday to MT2 and me), but... it's right there.
If he averages 5 made three's in every Warriors game from here on out, Curry will get to 408.
He might take a game or two off, of course, but in the six games after the All-Star break, Curry is averaging 7.17 makes. So if he keeps that up, he could fly past the 400 mark before the end of March.
In a completely surreal season that has completely defied words to this point, maybe making references to the magical abilities of a precocious young wizard really is the only to understand what he's doing here, as Cannon attempted to explain using a Harry Potter comparison (clearly, one of the best comments on Curry in the past week).
Ultimately, I really don't know what more there is to say about Curry. All I can say is that if you haven't watched Saturday night's game yet, you really should. If you really can't find a way to watch it, definitely do yourself a favor and check out Matt Moore's ranking of all 12 threes that Curry made in OKC (not that he had any words for the game-winner either) -- it will be absent the roller coaster drama of the game that contextualized the exilarating feeling of watching the game as it unfolded, but it's better than nothing.
Otherwise...I mean...here's what I can say: everyone tells us Warriors bloggers that it must be so much fun to cover this team because they're so fun and after all the years of suffering we've gone through it must feel that much more rewarding. And it's definitely fun. But what happens when you simply run out of words? Or to be more specific, when you've already used all the superlatives in your vocabulary to describe less mind-blowing moments, what can you do when he continues to extend the limits of what you imagined possible?
Kevin Hart has some SHOCKING NEWS on Steph Curry. pic.twitter.com/ObFYy2A01b— Fake SportsCenter (@FakeSportsCentr) February 28, 2016
The haters can say whatever they want. I'm just going to enjoy every single second of this moment because, as we were briefly reminded of the other night, it could all come crashing down at any moment. And the very acknowledgment of that -- feeling like you're living on the edge of all of this ending because it rationally has to end -- only adds to how amazing this ride is.
More praise for Curry
- TrueHoop has a look at the shot locations for all record-setting 288 of Curry's threes from this season in the form of an infographic. Again, please marvel at the fact that this man is on pace to hit 408 this season, which would dwarf not only his own previous two records but anyone in the history of the league since the 3-point arc was added.
Let's talk the absurdity of this. pic.twitter.com/X3O5kCYXqg— Justin Russo (@FlyByKnite) February 28, 2016
- Ron Kroichick and Rusty Simmons of the S.F. Chronicle had a really interesting look at Curry's development as a shooter, including this tidbit about how he engages analytics:
This might trace, in part, to Warriors officials showing Curry shot charts and analytic studies last offseason. Myers insisted there was no formal meeting to persuade Curry to increase his three-point attempts, but those charts and studies indicated he should shoot more often and from farther away.
Curry downplayed the impact of such data, reaching a simpler conclusion about his upward trend: "Make them. When you’re making them, you feel free to shoot more, to even start searching for them."
He has understood for a long time that shooting even 35 percent from three-point range is better than making half his shots inside the arc. But that’s as far as he wants to delve into analytics.
Of note: I think they really do a good job of honoring both sides of the debate over analytics. On the one hand, various quantitative and coded qualitative observations can offer insights that might not be immediately obvious or at least more robust than feelings; on the other, confident, work ethic, and pure will have played a major role in Curry's development. Guess what: Curry might be an example of how analytics and...traditional wisdom?...complement, rather than oppose, each other.
- Just for kicks: on top of everything else, Curry has apparently set the most off-ball screens among guards in the league (in case, you were thinking he's "just" a shooter), according to Mika Honkasalo of Vantage Sports.
- Consecutive games with a three is one of those sort of weird records that I'm sure nobody aspires to but still seems remarkable once it's achieved because nobody else has done it. BBC compiled those shots in a video for your viewing pleasure.
- In addition to his video ranking post of Curry's performance on Saturday, Matt Moore penned a beautiful recap about the significance of what might have been the best shooting performance in a NBA regular season game. This comment stuck out to me:
Curry's 38.4-foot 3-pointer was incredible, a shot that had the announcing staff losing its cool over how unbelievable it was, and yet, there was a sense when Curry launched it that it was going in. That all of those shots, no matter how contested, out of position, outside the realm of what has always been considered a "good shot" they were. You knew they were going in.
That's what Curry has done. He has made the unfathomable routine and yet the entire sports-watching world remains captivated, enthralled and overjoyed at witnessing what may already be the single greatest season in NBA history.
Other random notes from the week
- I really enjoyed perusing this article by Ian Levy of Nylon Calculus about effective height. This observation was particularly interesting given all the talk about Golden State's small unit this season: "While we think of the Warriors as a small team, they're actually only about a half-inch shorter than the league average. They have the smallest frontcourt in the league, narrowly edging out the Atlanta Hawks, but their backcourt is the third-largest. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are both big for their positions, but having Shaun Livingston come in to sop of some of those backcourt point guard minutes really pushes things to the extreme."
- Seth Partnow of Nylon Calculus offered us a new way to quantify the Warriors' dominance by writing, "...the Warriors have held double digit leads for an astonishing 40.4% of their time on the floor. This is far and away the highest in the league.1 In fact, since the 2004/05 season2 no team prior to this season has spent even a third of its floortime with an advantage of 10 or more."
- I know that we probably don't want to hear much about this, but SB Nation's Zitu Madu might have given us reason to continue fearing the Thunder despite Saturday's thrilling win in writing about Kevin Durant that, "He was also close to unguardable from the field in general. Not only did he abuse Iguodala, he spent the earlier parts of the game showing Draymond Green the limitations of his defensive powers. During many instances, Durant waved off an incoming pick in order to go against Green one-on-one, a battle that he was coming out the winner more often than not. It resulted in Green cursing himself and, in the locker room, his entire team's performance in frustration."
- This NBA Saturday thing is working, huh? According to Paulsen of Sports Media Watch, the Warriors-Thunder game on Saturday night was, "...the highest for a non-Christmas regular season game on any network in more than three years â since Lakers/Heat in February 2013 (5.0)."
- Neil Greenberg wrote an interesting piece for the Washington Post about how the NHL's Washington Capitals might actually be an even more dominant team in hockey than the Warriors are in basketball. I'll take his word for it because he has fancy numbers and I don't know enough about hockey to say much about it.
Obviously, there were many other links floating around the web this past week that might be of interest -- honestly, there were many more that I simply didn't share because I ran out of space/time. So if you think there's something else worth noting, drop a link in the comments, create a FanShot or write a FanPost if you have a longer commentary. In the meantime, I often use Twitter to keep up with links so keep up with me at @NateP_SBN.