Stephen Curry is widely considered the greatest point guard in the game right now, and the player is mainly responsible for changing the game with his style of play. His unparalleled shooting and skills have made Curry the babyface of the league and the player that young kids want to imitate. It is no wonder why he has managed to capture 2 MVPs and 3 championships as a member of the Golden State Warriors.
Similarly, Allen Iverson changed the game in his day with the off-court style and personality that he brought to the NBA. Not to mention, “The Answer” is one of the most dominant guards to have ever played the game. In terms of raw scoring ability, very few players can compare to Iverson as a creator of his own offense thanks to a never-ending motor. But how does he match up to Stephen Curry?
Iverson was not as fortunate as Curry in terms of the quality of teams he played for and that means he never won championships, but does he edge him in skills and impact? In order to put this comparison to rest, without any form of recency bias, it is time to find out who the better guard is.
Scoring - Allen Iverson
Stephen Curry never had a scoring season as good as Iveron’s, but that doesn't take away how gifted Curry is as an original marksman who can create his own shot from three. The Golden State Warriors legend is also the most unstoppable shooter we have ever seen when he is hot and the shots are falling. Curry's career average of 24.2 PPG on 43.3% shooting from three means he is an all-time great shooter. Curry’s drives are also a big part of his game, and his ball-handling makes him a threat at any point on the court.
The difference is that Iverson captured an amazing 4 scoring titles, and averaged over 30 PPG 4 times in his illustrious career. The Answer had one of the greatest crossovers ever and was extremely adept at getting to the rim whenever he wanted due to his speed. Iverson could also create his shot from mid-range with ease and was hardly affected by bigger defenders. After Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson is one of the names that come to mind in terms of the best perimeter scorers ever.
Overall, Stephen Curry edges Iverson as an outside shooter but does not have the scoring acumen that Iverson had. 4 scoring titles and a whopping 10 seasons averaging over 26 PPG means he has a slight edge over Curry (2 scoring titles and 5 seasons averaging over 26 PPG, career averaging 26.7 PPG).
Athleticism - Even
Neither Curry nor Iverson is regarded as physically gifted players, as both are slender and rather undersized. Curry is 6’3” and weighs 185 lbs as a point guard in a big man’s league, but is tall enough to make a difference on offense. While having a slender build, Curry is very quick on and off the ball but is otherwise unspectacular as a physical specimen.
Iverson was listed at 6’0”, but there are doubts about his true size. Iverson looked under 5’11” when he stood next to other NBA players, but that did not stop him from using his true physical gift: speed. Iverson was incredibly quick, and that allowed him to destroy defenses despite weighing 165 lbs. His incredible speed gives him enough of an athleticism edge that counters Curry’s height advantage.
Defense - Allen Iverson
Both players are not known for their defense, because they have a ton of responsibility on offense. Curry and Iverson lack the size of other great defensive players and they are prone to getting beat on defense by stronger or explosive players at their positions. But to get an indication of which player had the better defense, it is important to look at stats.
Curry is a 6'3" point guard with a career average of 1.7 SPG and 0.2 BPG. Curry is a few inches taller than Iverson and is very adept at playing passing lanes to pick off wayward passes. Stephen Curry is nowhere near being a defensive stopper, but he brings to the table nice height and very quick hands to come up with steals.
Meanwhile, Iverson has career averages of 2.2 SPG and 0.2 BPG. The shooting guard has a slight edge in steals, but also led the NBA in steals 3 times. Iverson averaged 2.8 SPG, 2.7 SPG, and 2.5 SPG in his steals-leading seasons while Curry led the NBA in steals once (2.1 SPG). Neither player was a stopper, but Iverson was better at coming up with steals.
Clutch - Allen Iverson
The clutch gene should be prevalent for both superstar guards mainly due to their incredible offensive ability. But Curry has unfortunately faced criticism in his game about not being clutch. Curry can dominate a game and seemingly flame out in critical moments because someone of his incredible talent and skill is expected to always deliver in the clutch. Maybe it's due to the fact that defenses have always been keen on stopping Curry, who is the greatest shooter ever. Until now, Curry never had the chance to showcase his clutch shot-making. His famous game-winner over the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2016 was incredible, but he lacks moments that compare to Iverson.
Iverson was criticized for his leadership and attitude, but the clutch gene was never an issue. The guard made countless big shots when his team needed it, and when he was in Philadelphia, it was often needed. Iverson’s big-game performances are the reason he carried a team singlehandedly to the Finals in 2001 and even stole Game 1 against the goliath Lakers led by Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. Curry has played with some great players who helped him through bad games, but Iverson was always the one to make big shots and did it often.
Leadership - Stephen Curry
Both Stephen Curry and Allen Iverson have been the faces of the NBA at some point and face the most criticism when their teams do not perform. After all, great players with their type of talent do not come along often, and that means pressure is the name of the game for them.
Curry is respected across the entire NBA because of his ability to shoot the ball, and he is one of the most impactful players in NBA history. So far, Steph has shown the ability to lead his team with shot-making and also a lack of ego. It was Curry’s willingness to share the spotlight with the likes of Kevin Durant that led to him winning multiple championships.
Meanwhile, Iverson was often criticized for not being able to share the spotlight and play the game his way. The Answer felt he was the best player on the court and was willing to take every shot to help his team win, but lacked the I.Q. of Curry to sacrifice in areas for the team’s sake. Curry has always been the ultimate team player and that makes him a better leader.
Basketball I.Q. - Stephen Curry
When it comes to basketball I.Q., Stephen Curry has to take it. Curry seemed born with an incredible understanding of how to play the game, and he is a true student of the game. The way he dribbles in his pre-game routines and what he does on the floor every night is not only due to his skill and training but also to his basketball I.Q. Curry knows where to be on offense and moves without the ball better than anyone in the league.
Iverson has an all-time great scoring I.Q., but he does not possess efficiency and understanding of momentum like Curry. Iverson was prone to taking bad shots, and that is why his field goal percentage (42.5% vs. 47.6%) is much lower. Curry’s I.Q. also let him take a backseat to Kevin Durant during his last two championship runs, and he deserves credit for that.
Impact - Even
This is the hardest one to gauge. Both Curry and Iverson have been exceptional talents during their time in the league, and their impacts cannot be ignored in any shape or form. Curry has changed the game, which gives him a major plus in this comparison because the entire NBA wants to shoot threes now. But Iverson was undeniably great on the court and impacted the game off the court as well.
Curry is the greatest shooter of all time, but Iverson might be a top-5 scorer who ever played the game. Both players won MVPs, and both had playoff success as their team’s best players. Curry has the edge in championships which should indicate a greater impact, but Iverson has the accolades to back up his own impact. In the end, this one is called even although there is an argument for either side.
1 on 1 Game - Even
Both Stephen Curry and Allen Iverson are sensational scorers who can score among the best in their positions. Curry can break his opponent down with dribble moves and can step back for his quickfire jumper, patented moves we have seen so many times. Curry can also attack the rim, using craft finishes due to his soft touch. On defense, Curry has the size to be a factor to at least be an irritant.
Iverson could also break down a defender with dribble moves but also possessed unbelievable quickness to get by opponents. Once Iverson passed a defender, it was usually game over. In creating his own shot, it was usually within the three-point line but was still very effective.
Overall, this is another hard one to gauge. Curry is the master of the three-point jumper and he only needs a centimeter of space to let it fly. Iverson embarrassed every great defender throughout history at some point, including Michael Jordan, and he evens it up.
Career - Stephen Curry
Without a doubt, Stephen Curry had a better career on a team level than Allen Iverson. Curry has already solidified his status as one of the greatest point guards who ever lived because of the incredible success he had as an unselfish superstar. His 3 NBA titles and 2 MVPs mean he is in Hall of Fame status, and he is still widely recognized as the greatest shooter of all time.
Allen Iverson won an MVP and has a Finals appearance on his resume, but he never got over the hump to win a chip. While that is due to the quality of teams and teammates he played with compared to Curry, it is also due to leadership and personal sacrifice. Iverson was “old school” and never wanted to team up with other superstars on his own terms, but if he had, his legacy might have been even greater.
Stephen Curry vs. Allen Iverson 3-3
Stephen Curry and Allen Iverson are two of the greatest guards to have ever played the game. Curry changed the game with his three-point jumper and has managed to greatly usurp the likes of Reggie Miller and Ray Allen as a pure marksman. 3championships and 2 MVPs are incredible achievements for a player still going strong, and there could be more to come. As an unselfish leader, outside shooter, and refined floor general; Curry is one of the best to ever pick up a basketball.
Meanwhile, Allen Iverson was great in his own respect because of how he dominated the game as a little man and also changed the league with his personality. Iverson is one of the most beloved players of all time by the older generation because he was simply unstoppable as a scorer and did it with style and grace. In the end, it is too difficult to separate the two Hall of Fame talents although an argument can be made for both players as better individual players.