There’s been some buzz recently about Steve Kerr saying Kevin Durant is a top 2 basketball player and Stephen Curry isn’t in the running. On top of Kevin Durant winning the Finals MVP and Kerr not giving Stephen Curry air time in his championship parade speech, some people are feeling that Curry is getting under-appreciated.
It’s probably true. To be fair, there’s just a lot more you can do on defense as a 7-foot powerhouse like Durant or a muscle cyborg like LeBron James. So from that standpoint, those two are the “best” basketball players in the world.
And from the standpoint of matchups in a Cavs series, Kevin Durant is the player who can make James have to work on defense and also single-cover him, so I have no problem with people saying Durant is the Finals MVP. By one blunt measure, Durant had the 2nd best Finals in history. But that obscures that Curry just had the 15th best in history! So he’s not exactly the boy sidekick.
Wow. LBJ #5 and Steph quietly w 15th best Finals of modern era. https://t.co/6RjnxapAhb— Eric Apricot (@EricApricot) June 13, 2017
Also it’s been statistically shown repeatedly that Curry is the most important basketball player for the Warriors (and therefore for the league). It’s hard for casual observers (sadly including a lot of the TV basketball analysts) to get why Curry has the most impact.
Here are two articles worth your time. First, 538’s The Warriors Didn’t Need Kevin Durant To Be This Good, which concludes:
Curry’s ridiculous shooting opens up the Warriors’ offense. Not only are his shots incredibly efficient, but he also draws so much of his opponents’ attention that he makes his teammates look amazing — and makes his team immensely better. Looking at NBAWowy, which tracks how teams perform with a given player on the court versus on the bench, the Warriors outscored their opponents by 3.1 points per 100 possessions when Durant was playing and Curry was not; that number jumped to 16.1 points per 100 possessions with Curry on the court and Durant on the sidelines.
While Durant may be the story of the season, the Warriors’ dynasty was built and is still being propped up by Curry’s ability to throw the ball into the hoop from great distances. Provided he keeps being able to do that, expect Golden State to keep the game broken.
Second is one by yours truly, called Is the Warriors Curry-Durant Pick and Roll Overrated? It starts:
Golden State Warriors fans have been begging for the Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant pick and roll all year. Well-wishers and ill-wishers alike all wonder why it isn’t run more often.
Why would you NOT put two MVPs into the same on-ball action? After all, it works great in the NBA2K video game! And 2017 Finals Game 5 seemed to be the explosive vindication for everyone who pines for the play, when Steve Kerr finally unleashed this (not so) Secret Weapon to finish off a valiant Cleveland Cavaliers team.
This article will analyze why you wouldn’t want to run the play and examine what really happened in Game 5.
Short version: It wasn’t that the Curry-Durant pick and roll had unique effectiveness. The Cavs jammed up the flow offense with violence, then double team blitzed Curry and Durant in the pick and roll and Curry was the guy who could beat the blitz. Durant couldn’t beat the blitz, so to keep him in the action, the Curry-Durant pick and roll was a natural.
The article includes many video clips showing that Curry is still the most important ball-handler, and he’s the one who can crack every Cavaliers defense, especially the double teams. Durant can’t do that yet, and the Cavs were able to attack him. In fact, we show that’s how the Warriors attacked Durant in 2016. You should read it. It’s fun.
A very touching moment in the Finals interviews can be seen at the end of the following lovely Curry Finals highlight package. Durant had just been awarded the FMVP and a rousing chant of “MVP”. And then when Curry got interviewed, the crowd came up with another rousing chant of “MVP” and he looked touched by that. How lucky we are that it doesn’t have to be Curry versus Durant, because we have Curry and Durant. There’s enough love for everyone.
Matt Moore wrote, “If Curry is the soul and Green the heart, Kerr might be the central nervous system of the Warriors.” I like to think of it as: Kerr is the nervous system, Curry is the brain, Green the heart, Durant the muscle, Klay the inspiration, and Iguodala the conscience. And at this time, we don’t have to decide whether brain or muscle is more important, and we’re blessed to be able to enjoy all these players together for at least another year.
I propose a more interesting question in the poll below.
Who would win a 7 game series at full health and rest: playoff roster 2016 Warriors or 2017 Warriors ?
This poll is closed
2016. MVP 2.0 Curry defeats all.
2017. Durant is unstoppable.
Not sure, but Bogut and Zaza both end up in the hospital.