Stephen Curry has been playing some of the best basketball of his career this past season, and it’s as entertaining as it gets. Curry’s averages look very similar to his two MVP seasons in 2015 and 2016. Before diving into the talk of who deserves MVP, let’s take a minute to appreciate the sheer skill and entertainment this man brings to basketball. While his shooting is a spectacle to say the least, what truly makes him an elite NBA player is his activity, unselfishness, and IQ.
If one was to pinpoint Curry for the entirety of a game, the off-ball movement one would see is shocking. Not only this, he has made adjustments to play with a whole new team compared to the last time he was healthy. Going from playing with Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant to playing with Juan Toscano-Anderson and Mychal Mulder is not an easy transition, regardless of the player.
Though the Warriors got off to a rocky start, Curry and Draymond Green have figured out the way to optimize and streamline their offense, be it handing the ball to James Wiseman in the post, or let Curry get double-teamed, then look for the open man in the paint. It does also seem as though the new players are getting used to the type of basketball Curry and Draymond used to play, which has improved functionality and efficiency.
Now, moving onto the subject of MVP. The only reason Stephen Curry has not been completely active in the conversation of MVP is his record and team performance overall. If we apply the same reasoning for Curry’s exclusion from MVP talks, Nikola Jokic should be lower on the MVP ladder as well. The Warriors are actually one seed ahead of the Nuggets by half a game.
The title of MVP also refers to a player’s importance to his team, not solely the best player on the best team. For this reason, LeBron James and Joel Embiid have been the consistent favorites for MVP thus far. Theoretically, if Embiid was removed from the Sixers, they would continue to be an above-average team, and would probably easily make the playoffs, with the help of all-star Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, and some other very solid role players. Thus, the title of MVP wouldn’t necessarily suit him, as his presence on the team really only elevates them a few seeds.
Let’s draw the same scenario with Stephen Curry. Last season, with Curry being injured for virtually the entire season, the Warriors finished with the worst record in the NBA. I repeat, the WORST record in the NBA. Now, comparing the same team, now with Stephen Curry, we see them hovering around the 7-8 seed. Stephen Curry elevated the worst team in the NBA to a playoff team alone.
To devalue LeBron’s case for MVP, all we really have to do is view the last few games for the Lakers with Anthony Davis out. During the 6 games that Davis has been sidelined with an Achilles injury, the Lakers have lost 4 of their last 6, including losses to the then 13th-seed Washington Wizards with an 13-18 record, and the 16-17 below average Miami Heat.
If LeBron is struggling to beat these teams without Anthony Davis, who was the real difference-maker for the Lakers? Curry’s secondhand man, Draymond Green, was also injured for the first few games of the season, and Curry held the Warriors to a positive record, which is something most other players are incapable of doing.
All of this being said, it is becoming increasingly clear that there is a surplus of elite candidates for the MVP title this year, but if we really examine the impact players have on their team and the significance of their role, there seems to be only one right answer so far this season. Stephen Curry has been playing amazing basketball and should he make the playoffs this season, he is the rightful recipient of the NBA MVP trophy.
Photo: Thearon W. Henderson