The internet is abuzz with how great Stephen Curry is playing in this post-season. Zach Lowe’s mind is boggling. Bill Simmons is beside himself with joy. The words “best player of the playoffs” and “best player of the playoffs if not for Kevin Durant” have been uttered. High praise.
So what exactly makes Curry’s current run for the Warriors so outstanding? Two things really. Most obvious is his prolific, high efficiency scoring. He’s putting up 23 points on 19 shots with almost 9 three point field goal attempts per game, shooting 57 TS% on a 25.7 Usage%. But just as important, Steph is punishing teams that trap him by passing to his teammates for buckets. He’s dishing out over 8 assists a game with an Assist Rate over 30%, that’s a lot of playmaking for a primary scorer.
To see how many people have ever done what Curry is doing right now, I set the following parameters on our Basketball-Reference playoff statistics search: 10+ games played, True Shooting percentage of 57+, Usage% of 25+, and Assist Rate of 30+
As with any list of great players doing great things, Michael Jordan and LeBron James headline it and comprise almost half of the applicable seasons including the top 4 by Win Share. So it is. After that the breakdown is BDiddy of the We Believe Golden State Warriors, Steve Nash of the pre-Sarver Fire Sale Phoenix Suns, Kevin Johnson of the Uh-Oh Charles Barkley’s Back Is Starting to Go Phoenis Suns, Deron Williams of the Boy I Hope We Don’t Run into Kobe and Pau Utah Jazz, and Gary Payton of the Noklahoma City Seattle Sonics. And of course, Stephen Curry of the Hand Down Man Down Golden State Warriors who spawned this whole conversation.
Curry stands out somewhat in the way he’s producing. He barely gets to the free throw line, but he still manages to score efficiently because of his high volume and accuracy from three point land. Surprisingly, Steph has the lowest TS% on the list. Everyone else is over 58% and most are over 60%. But the way he’s scoring is so unique because it is all predicated on his deadeye shooting from range. He drags the defense out and opens up passing lanes and opportunities just by having the ball in hand around the arc. It’s fun to watch and very impressive because we’ve never really seen it done before – it’s like watching Reggie Miller play point guard (well), and everyone is still captivated by the process.
The good news for Warriors fans is that this is a damned exclusive list, and you’ve got two point guards (lead guards?) on it, and most of the players’ teams reached the conference finals. The bad news for y’all Dubs is that the only season on the list to end in a championship is the 1991 Chicago Bulls campaign, a singularly odd playoffs in which Jordan broke the cardinal rule of doing too much to win by also being sickeningly efficient. Miami seems to be way to good to lose to these Warriors, so it’s not likely Curry is going to have THAT kind of run, but I don’t think the NBA Finals are out of the question, and I don’t think I’ve ever in over 25 years of watching NBA basketball said “I don’t think the NBA Finals are out of the question” for the Golden State Warriors. Not bad.
Tags: 2013 NBA Playoffs, advanced stats, Baron Davis, Basketball, Chicago Bulls, cleveland cavaliers, Deron Williams, field goal attempts, gary payton, Golden State Warriors, Kevin Johnson, kobe bryant, lebron james, Metrics, Miami Heat, Michael Jordan, NBA, pau gasol, playoff statistics, Reggie Miller, Seattle Supersonics, Shawn Kemp, sports, Stephen Curry, steve nash, Utah Jazz