As we all get older, we’ve started to look down the road and wonder how Stephen Curry will perform as a basketball player as he ages. After all, he has turned 29, so conventional wisdom says he’s at his peak now.
GSOM’s Patrick Murray looked into this question in Curry, Green, leadership & sustainability: What makes a dynasty? And in Warriors Twitter, we’ve knocked this question around.
When Steph's 37 and sort of washed up and GSW fans are more militant supporting him than LAL fans were w/ post-achilles Kobe >>>>>>— sam esfandiari (@samesfandiari) August 29, 2017
Gonna be fascinating to see how Steph ages. Best case is like David Robinson boosting young Duncan. Spurs model but you get to keep soul.— Eric Apricot (@EricApricot) August 29, 2017
And of course the kerfuffle when SB Nation predicted the best players in 2021 and placed Curry at #13 at age 32.
So of course, I had to try to analyze this question more seriously. I published an in-depth look at this question at BBallBreakdown with full gory details, but here are some highlights.
No one can predict the future, but we can compare the career arcs of interesting comparison cases, first using 538’s CARMELO and then looking closer at the comparison cases of Steve Nash, Reggie Miller, and Dell Curry.
CARMELO projects out over the next 7 seasons, almost exactly as long as Curry plans to play....
[detailed table in original]
Keep in mind that the error bars are large, but they project that Curry will likely play at an All-star level for the next four years through his 32-year-old season, and then will be a good player for the two after that.
Steve Nash and Reggie Miller are the ones that Curry claims he patterned his game after, so it’s natural to look at how they did. Steve Nash has a frenetic on-ball dribble game, driving and creating shots for teammates, and shooting accurately off-the-dribble. Reggie Miller had a relentless off-ball game, running off screens and catch-and-shooting accurately in traffic.
[detailed case studies in original]
Dell Curry and Steve Nash remained dead-eye shooters until their last seasons. Reggie Miller had remained excellent with a slight overall downward trend and more inconsistency after 35. Their declines in their last season are likely no coincidence. Once they couldn’t fill up the basket efficiently, they knew it was time to hang it up.
SB Nation placed 32 year old Curry at #14. CARMELO places him at Borderline All-star, which is something like #20. Steve Nash had one of his best years at age 32, just missing MVP, so if Curry did improve upon his previous statistical bests -- hard to even fathom -- he would be the top offensive player in league history. Seems unlikely. If Curry ages like Reggie Miller, then he will have a slow mild decline in his effectiveness while still being All-Star quality over the next six years.
One final note. What’s striking is that the SB Nation projection picked Kevin Durant to be #5 in the league at age 32. Durant arguably uses more athleticism than Curry and as a taller, larger player, could be more susceptible to injury. In fact, CARMELO projects Kevin Durant as follows: 9.7 (this year, 28), 8.6, 8.0, 6.1, 5.4, 4.7, 3.8, 3.6 (age 35), All worse than Curry, and with a big drop-off after two years into sub-All-Star territory. Some of the difference from Curry comes from their projection that Durant will play about 200-500 minutes per year less than Curry, presumably due to Durant’s comparisons getting injured.
How will Steph be playing in 2021 at age 32?
This poll is closed
destroying the league (Steve Nash model)
All-Star (Reggie Miller model)
borderline All-Star (538 model)
inspirational role player
not playing, serving his first year as President with Vice-President Kerr