Can you feel it? The NBA is on the verge of cranking the season back up as media days and training camps start. This also means that speculation and prognostication is kicking into full gear, as basketball’s literati starts pumping out season previews and player rankings.
Greatest point guard alive Stephen Curry’s name keeps popping up in these discussions and it’s becoming comically clear that there’s no common consensus on where the two-time MVP stands in a post-Kevin Durant world, for better and for worse.
Curry isn’t a current top-5 player?
ESPN’s current player rankings has Curry at sixth best in the league. For reference, here’s how they’ve ranked him since the 2014 season:
How does he go from the 2nd best player in the league last year to the 6th? I find this to be a curious placing, considering:
A.) His stats last year were on par with the numbers he put up in his first MVP season, despite sharing the rock with super scorers Durant and Klay Thompson.
C.) His usage rate will probably increase this season considering the Warriors will be missing Thompson (slated to miss most of the year with knee rehab) and KD (gone to Brooklyn). Curry’s going to have the freedom and pressure to carry the offense on his shoulders, and since he’s the greatest shooter of all time, shouldn’t that spell doom for the league barring catastrophic injury?
Full disclosure: after watching the Dubs play trash basketball for most of my life, the euphoria of seeing a Warriors player in any top-10 ranking never gets old. Back in the early 2000’s when Shaq and Kobe were rampaging across the league, I would have killed just to see Antawn Jamison or Jason Richardson in the top-40!
But at the same time, I can only shake my head in amused annoyance that Curry is ranked behind guys like Anthony Davis and James Harden, superstars whose biggest achievement is losing to Curry’s teams in the playoffs.
Curry’s a top-10 player in NBA history; better than the Mamba?
Earlier this summer, I produced a video for GSoM regarding Curry’s Finals performances to address the cacophonous din of haters calling for his head after the Warriors lost to the Raptors.
In it, I compared his Finals stats to Kobe Bryant’s to show that despite them both filling up the box scores, Kobe is lauded as a crunch time god while Curry is condemned as a choke artist. That stirred up some debate in my group chats, as comparing Curry to Kobe seemed blasphemous in many of my friends eyes.
So imagine my gleeful surprise when Bleacher Report released their all-time top-50 NBA players list, and Curry was slotted a 10th while Kobe was ranked 14th.
Player A is Stephen Curry's 10-year career. Player B is Kobe Bryant's 10-year peak. pic.twitter.com/hvn6D85ASb— Andy Bailey (@AndrewDBailey) September 26, 2019
The author of the list, Andy Bailey, eloquently broke down his thought process after the list sent NBA Twitter into a tizzy:
Curry does more for his team than Kobe did, as evidenced by the impact numbers. And while Kobe was an impressive attempt at a Michael Jordan facsimile, Curry changed basketball.
The tally from the categories paints this as a tie, so everyone may have to ask themselves the question: “Who ya got?”
I’ll take the revolutionary.
Kobe was incredible. He deserves the love he gets from fans.
But having him behind Curry on an all-time list isn’t disrespectful. It’s just honest.
As a Warriors fan, this is like injecting gold-blood directly into my veins. Curry’s already getting top-10 pantheon level consideration at 31 years old with a decade in the league!
The last time I was this stunned by speculation of a Golden State player’s rank in the NBA’s hierarchy, it involved another 6-foot-3 guard the fanbase was in love with. Remember in 2010 when Monta Ellis declared he was the second best player in the league, behind only Kobe, and ahead of LeBron James?
"Monta Ellis have it all." - Monta Ellis— Eric Freeman (@freemaneric) December 30, 2012
Curry’s always #1 in your heart
At the end of the day, this is all just the sports jibber jabber that makes for good debates in the bar or in the barbershop. Curry’s spent his whole career overcoming underdog labels, and this season he will have a chance to show the world his “Unanimous” form once again.
The pendulum of opinion on Curry currently may swing from “not a current top-5 player despite being in his prime” to “already one of the 10 greatest players ever despite being nowhere near retirement”. It’s hilarious that he’s simultaneously being squeezed out of the best player alive discussion, while surpassing retired legends in the annals of basketball greatness.
Regardless of what the noise is, I truly appreciate witnessing Curry wreak havoc across current and future timelines of basketball opinions, as he gobbles down championships and MVP’s like Pac-Man chasing down ghosts.
Is Steph in your top-5 of players today?
This poll is closed
No, thank you
Is Steph in your all-time top-10?
This poll is closed