With so much that has gone on in the NBA over the past few years, it’s as if Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry’s amazing back-to-back NBA MVP campaigns now feels a lifetime away. Let this serve as a reminder that Curry’s historic run took place no less than three years ago, when he won the Most Valuable Player crown in the 2014-15 season, followed up by another astounding, MVP-caliber campaign in the 2015-16 season.
This was a time when the Warriors were just starting to build the foundations of their dynasty, which now appears to have totally crumbled over the span of a few months. Nonetheless, despite the rather unpleasant situation Golden State find themselves in, the coming season looks to have the makings of another brilliant performance from Curry on an individual level. So much so, that this might just be the year that the 31-year-old takes home the third (and last?) MVP trophy of his career. Below are five reasons why we believe this to be the case.
All About Steph
There is no question that Curry is still the main guy for the Warriors. Even when Kevin Durant was in the picture, this was still Curry’s team. Now that the back-to-back Finals MVP winner is long gone, this opens up things more for Curry.
Klay Thompson, who unfortunately suffered a gruesome ACL injury that will cost him the majority of the coming season, will also be out of contention, which will pretty much make Curry take on a primary and unobstructed role as the team’s number one option on offense.
Newcomer D’Angelo Russell will definitely pitch in, but he will need some time to adjust, so it is safe to say that in the coming season, everything will revolve around Curry.
With that being said, the six-time All-Star will have a legitimate shot at once again becoming the league’s scoring king by the end of the season. Curry has already achieved this tremendous feat in the past, when he logged 30.1 points per contest in the 2015-16 season, and all signs are pointing to the fact that a repeat of that amazing season-long performance might just be in the books.
For a more simplistic approach, let’s have a quick look at the numbers. Last season’s league-leader in scoring was Houston Rockets superstar James Harden, who logged a mind-boggling 36.1 points per game. The Beard isn’t likely to hit this same mark this season (more on this later), which makes Paul George’s 28.0 ppg with the Oklahoma City Thunder last season perhaps a more feasible barometer.
Last season, Curry averaged 27.3 ppg (fifth in the league) on a Warriors side that had Durant (26.0 ppg) and Thompson (21.5 ppg). Again, Russell (21.1 ppg last season with the Brooklyn Nets) will have his role to play, but where else should we expect the scoring to come from for the Dubs? Well, let’s just say that in the coming season, there’s a very good chance that Curry will be able to improve on his career-high 30.1 ppg from his 2015-16 MVP campaign.
Staying in the same train of thought, be reminded that in the 2015-16 season, Curry averaged an unbelievable 5.1 three-pointers per ballgame. You know what’s even more amazing? He actually matched this same output last year to lead the league in three-pointers made per game. It cannot be denied that Durant’s presence opened up the floor for Curry last season, but with the entire offense now expected to run through Steph this season, who knows how many three’s he’ll end up hoisting?
For the record, he attempted a career-high 11.7 shots from distance last season on a 43.7-percent clip. His efficiency from distance might drop this year, but surely, we should still expect Curry to make somewhere in the range of five three-pointers per contest, which should propel him to the very top of the leader board in this particular category.
There is no doubt that the Warriors are a much weaker side this season compared to previous years. After all, how do you improve after losing a Top 5 player in Durant?
This, coupled with all the craziness that went down in the Western Conference this summer, will make it a very tough season ahead for Golden State. They will probably struggle to secure a playoff spot, but with Curry on full-on beast mode, the Warriors might just sneak in with a low seed. It’s going to be a rough road ahead, but if Curry is able to carry his team to the postseason, then surely, this should give him a big boost in the MVP race.
Finally, we have a look at the competition. Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks is still the favorite to bag back-to-back MVP wins, and it’s hard to argue against this. However, with all that we’ve presented above, Curry should have a legitimate shot at dethroning the Bucks superstar.
Last year, Curry actually came in fifth in the final voting for the season’s MVP, with Denver Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic, Paul George, and Harden, all finishing above the Warriors guard. Well, at least two out of the three aforementioned stars will be paired with another superstar in the coming year (so will LeBron James of Los Angeles Lakers — another MVP contender this season), so this should further elevate the chances of Steph, who will be all by his lonesome in Oakland.
Once the dust finally settles at the end of next season, Curry might just fall short of this penultimate individual accolade. A lot of factors will definitely come into play, and this is anything but a sure thing. Nonetheless, we’re pretty certain that Steph will have a great season ahead, and surely, he will be — at the very least — in the conversation for this year’s Most Valuable Player award.