There has been a lot of debate lately about who the NBA’s best player is. Is it 35-year-old LeBron James? Is it the unstoppable Giannis Antetokounmpo?
While most are inclined to pick one or the other, Bleacher Report’s Will Gottlieb picked someone else.
According to him, so long as Golden State star Steph Curry is healthy, it is him who is the league’s best player.
Stephen Curry is the best player in the NBA.
There. I said it.
As a two-time MVP, a three-time champion, the greatest shooter of all time and the engine of a record 73-win team, Curry’s resume is loaded. He had the most efficient volume scoring season ever. He has the highest multiyear offensive player impact plus-minus in the league. He owns five of the top 10 seasons, including the top two, in offensive PIPM since 2010. The list goes on.
Curry differs from guys like Giannis and LeBron because he’s more of a ceiling raiser than a floor-raiser. Gottlieb detailed the difference.
It can be difficult to parse what impact Curry has had on the Warriors’ success because he has always played with superior talent. There isn’t a more seamless fit of stars than the Warriors’ trio of Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Adding Kevin Durant made them unstoppable, but Curry allowed Durant to shine and win in ways he never could have with Oklahoma City. That’s why Durant joined Golden State in the first place.
Curry isn’t the greatest floor-raiser of all time. Replace him with LeBron James on the 2007 Cavaliers, and he may not carry them to the Finals. He is the greatest ceiling-raiser. It’s much harder to go from bad to good than good to great and even harder to go from great to the best team of all time. Discrediting Curry for playing alongside other talented players is unfair when his presence makes it all possible.
Curry’s shooting has an incredible and almost supernatural impact on his team. Because he’s able to hit on the perimeter with such volume and efficiency, it collapses the defense and creates space for his teammates to work on the offensive end.
Last season, when he was fully healthy, Curry was averaging 27.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game on 47% shooting. With health on his side, who’s to say he can’t replicate that performance again?
If we’ve learned anything about Curry in these past few years, it’s that we should never count him out.