The Golden State Warriors are about to play their biggest game of the season. The Dubs will take on the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday for the right to claim the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference in the NBA’s Play-In Tournament.
To beat the defending champs, Golden State will need another Super Man-like effort from Stephen Curry. Two Lakers — LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma — shared their thoughts on why Curry is the NBA MVP this season.
LeBron spoke to the media and said that about Steph:
“Steph has had, in my opinion, the best season all year,” James said.
Curry won the league’s scoring title after averaging a career-high 32.0 points per game. At 33, he is the oldest player to win the scoring title since Michael Jordan did it at age 35 during the 1997-98 season. Curry had great shooting splits as well at 482/.421/.916.
Curry thanked LeBron for saying he’s the MVP during a recent conference call.
“Obviously, I’m appreciative,” Curry said. ”He knows when he says something that people pay attention. So for him to speak on my MVP candidacy is definitely — I respect him for it, I appreciate it.”
Kuzma echoed LeBron’s sentiments during his media availability on Tuesday.
“We’re playing who potentially could be the MVP of the season.”
The odds are that Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets will win the award, but Curry has a compelling case.
Steph led the league in offensive real plus-minus, real plus-minus and real plus-minus wins. He also ranks fourth in usage percentage and sixth in PIE.
The case against Curry is that the Warriors weren’t among the top teams in the league, finishing with a 39-33 record. But his importance to the team can’t be understated.
The Dubs went 1-7 without Curry in the lineup. The underlying numbers show where they would have been in the standings if Curry missed an extended period. Golden State’s offensive rating was 12.4 points better per 100 possessions with Steph on the court. The team’s net rating was 10.2 points higher per 100 possessions when Curry was in the game.
Without Curry, the Warriors are a lottery team that would have finished near the bottom of the NBA standings. Even though opponents focused on slowing down Curry, he was able to bring his best almost every single time he stepped on the court.
That’s not to downplay Jokic’s season. He averaged 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds and 8.3 assists while helping the Nuggets finish with a 47-25 record. But Denver is a deep team that would have likely been a playoff contender even without Jokic.
Even though he likely won’t win the award, Curry’s dominance this season was special. He carried his team to a play-in berth, and the Dubs will need another spectacular performance from Steph if they want to punch their ticket to the playoffs.