The Warriors came on as quite a surprise in the NBA last season.
There was no doubt that the roster was talented enough to make a push for playoff contention even though they were just participants in the NBA lottery the summer before. The health of Stephen Curry’s ankles and health of Andrew Bogut in general, raised concerns for how far the team could go before completely falling apart.
The Warriors did not disappoint. They were able to secure the sixth seed in the Western Conference, upset the third seeded Denver Nuggets in the playoffs and were two points shy of leading the San Antonio Spurs 3-1 in the Western semifinals. All this to say that the Warriors exceeded expectations and none of it would have been possible if Curry had not performed the way he did last season. If Curry remains healthy and continues to increase his production, there is no question that he is primed to win the MVP award this season.
Curry entered the NBA four seasons ago as one of the best scorers in his draft class. Scouts knew he would be capable of providing scoring for any team in need of it. Four years later, he has shown NBA scouts that he’s not only capable, but also consistently lethal. His career 46.5% from the field, 44.6% from behind the three point line, and 90.1% from the free throw line attest to his great scoring prowess. It is worth noting that percentages can be misleading because there are players that are just as efficient, but take less shots. This is not the case with Curry who takes close to fifteen shots a game and at least three free throws a game. He is as pure a scorer as they come.
Last season, Curry made history by connecting on a record 272 three-point field goals made. He was also the first player in NBA history to combine his record of three-point field goals with 500 assists in a single season, showing that he is also a willing passer. His willingness to pass and defer to teammates has him ranked each year in the top fifteen among all active players in assists per game (6.9 apg). It’s amazing to think that given how young Curry is, his offensive numbers can only increase, making him one of the most feared offensive players in the NBA.
Given that Curry is such a threat on the offensive end, it’s easy to question whether he is just as talented on the opposite end of the court. Simply put, he is. In fact, in his first season, Curry finished third in average steals per game at 1.9 spg behind only Rajon Rondo and Monta Ellis. Although he never finished in the top ten in steals per game after his first season, he has consistently ranked in the top twenty in every season he has been in the league. When he isn’t racking up steals he has proven that his on-ball defense is effective, allowing an opponent to score an estimated 1.1 points per possession based on career averages. Although that may not look the best, the encouraging news is that this number has been consistently dropping as Curry gains experience in the league. Last season, he was at a career best, allowing opponents to only score 0.07 points per possession. This season it will be important to see that this number either stays constant or continues to decrease.
If Curry does continue to improve on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor, he will be one of the most well-rounded players in the game and will be able to take his Warriors far. In spite all of his accomplishments, the one question that seems to surround Curry is his health, particularly the health of his ankles. Curry has suffered many ankle injuries, to the point where he has had surgery on one of them because it needed reconstructing. Last season Curry was able to avoid injuries and proved to be a threat to score for opposing defenses, but his injury history has been a concern that many have hidden in the back of their minds. If he can remain healthy and play his usual 36-38 minutes a game, Curry is primed for a career season that will launch him into serious MVP debates and launch his Warriors team into the top tier of the Western Conference.