Kevin Durant joining the Golden State Warriors was the worst thing to happen to Stephen Curry’s all-time legacy. There, I said it.
That’s not to say that Curry wouldn’t do that move over. The Warriors star is so selfless that he absolutely would. The move to bring in KD brought in two more championship runs and another NBA Finals appearance on top of that.
But that robbed us from seeing any more of Stephen Curry hitting his absolute peak unencumbered. Sure, he was still amazing for the Warriors on most nights. But what made the feats so exciting was exactly because he would go up against these athletic marvels like LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, and Durant himself. He was the only David that we always expected to slay every Goliath in his path.
The scintillating performances weren’t just a spectacle to watch, but rather absolutely necessary for the Warriors at the time. For as great as Draymond Green and Klay Thompson were as the perfect supporting stars for him, Curry is and always will be reasons one, two, and three for why the Warriors reached the heights that they did.
That being said, we’re finally being reminded of just how good Stephen Curry is once again. It just took a five-year hiatus before it happened, but that’s all cool with me. Lest we forget that Curry’s 2015-16 unanimous MVP run was the greatest point guard season in NBA history, bar none.
While we’ll never get back the prime years Stephen Curry played with Kevin Durant, he’s made it like he hasn’t missed a beat. Back in 2016, his MVP-winning stat line for the Warriors looked like this: 30.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 6.7 assists. His shooting splits were an immaculate 50.4% shooting on 45.4% from three, and 90.8% from the free-throw line. And don’t sleep on the fact that he led the NBA in steals with 2.1 thefts per contest.
Despite years of aging, Curry is somehow approaching those numbers. The Warriors star is actually averaging a career-high 31.8 points per game, and is only taking one additional shot attempt (20.2 FGA in ’16 vs. 21.4 FGA in ’21) to do it. His other numbers are close enough to his legendary season at 5.5 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game, on still mind-boggling percentages of 48.3% shooting from the field and 42.1% from deep on an ungodly 12.6 three-point attempts per night.
Curry’s performances for the Warriors this season feel reminiscent of their 2012-13 run. The league and its fans are absolutely buzzing about this infectious superstar in a Golden State Warriors uniform doing things that are downright stupid with the basketball. And he’s doing these things not just because he can, but because he has to for a team that needs every ounce of superstar skill that he can muster.
The Warriors may not be poised to win it all this season. But just like during the 2013 NBA playoffs, Stephen Curry stunned everyone when he showed just how far the three-point shot can take a team in the postseason. The championships came shortly after.
Are we witnessing history repeat itself?
Warriors Play-in: A Stephen Curry Showcase
For as many detractors as the NBA play-in tournament has had, they’re the perfect spotlight to allow Stephen Curry to remind us of his greatness. In a way, the Warriors star was built for a moment like that.
The difference between Golden State’s 2015-16 run that ended unceremoniously for them was that they had all the pressure in the world to win. As great as that team was, LeBron James was no slouch either. They were right on the cusp but caved right towards the finish line for the perfect season.
But entering this year’s play-in tournament, Stephen Curry is back in his element. He’s the ultimate underdog, but with the swagger and confidence of a three-time NBA champion. The best part? There’s going to be zero pressure in those games for Steph. He can gun all he wants, take threes from half-court whenever he feels like, and play off the crowd during his battle against Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies.
And if the Warriors make it to face LeBron James and the Lakers, you better believe the crowd at Staples Center will be simultaneously against him and secretly rooting for him to do go absolutely nuts.
Witnessing Stephen Curry’s greatness is a phenomenon unlike any we’ve seen arguably since Michael Jordan was winning championships in a Chicago Bulls uniform and dominating the NBA. We’re about to get a front row seat at what that looks like yet again. But this time, Stephen Curry will be in his element like we haven’t seen in a long time.