The NBA season is back and apart from a few horrible injuries everything has lived up to expectations. LeBron is still LeBron, Giannis is continuing to grow into a top 10 player in the NBA, the Warriors are pretty good and Lonzo looks to be pretty polarizing.
Now that my life has purpose and meaning again it’s time we talked about someone who for some reason hasn’t been mentioned much in these few opening games, and that is the two-time MVP Steph Curry.
While last year’s Finals MVP Kevin Durant has been receiving all the praise thus far, Curry has quietly been averaging 25 points a night through the first couple of games. Somehow a guy who is a two-time champion and the greatest shooter of all time is being overlooked. Luckily ESPN does not overlook greatness as they already rate Curry as the 4th best point guard of all time, and I heavily agree with their decision.
Curry is the heart and soul of the Warriors offense and when he’s on the floor his mere presence creates so much for his teammates. The tempo Golden State plays at with Curry at the helm is what has made them the best team in the league for the last 3 years. His shooting stroke is the deadliest we’ve ever seen and even after 5 full seasons teams still have no idea what to do with him.
Although ESPN ranked Curry 4th which I agree with, I don’t agree entirely with their top 5 order. They put Magic 1st, Oscar Robertson 2nd, John Stockton 3rd, Curry 4th and Isiah Thomas 5th. There’s no way that John Stockton should be rated above Thomas. Stockton may be the all-time leader in assists and steals but Zeke is a two time Champion who was the leader of the ‘Bad Boy’ Pistons of the 80s.
When composing such lists it’s all about comparing and contrasting; if you took each point guard and put him on a team with only league average players at every position and then played each team against each other in a seven-game series, who would win? That to me is the best indicator of how this list should be ranked and now I am going to do just that only pitting Steph against the other members of this list.
5. Chris Paul
The 6th best point guard of all time according to ESPN is CP3 who has certainly had a great career so far. With career averages of 18.7 points, 9.9 assists and 2.3 steals Paul has been a top 5 guard in the NBA since he was drafted back in 2005.
Paul and Curry are very different players with the former focusing more of traditional point guard duties whilst Steph concentrates more on scoring. Both have been excellent but Curry has only come into play since the start of the 2012/13 season. Before then ankle injuries looked to completely derail his career as he struggled to stay healthy. Chris Paul was an All-Star in 2008 and has been consistently excellent for the past decade. However in recent years no one can argue that Curry hasn’t been the better player. Over the past 3 full season Curry averaged 26.4 points a game, made over 4.2 threes a game and lead his team to 3 Finals appearances, 2 titles and won 2 MVPs in the process.
Paul is a guy you want if you’re looking for constant success for your franchise, but Curry has become a transcendent superstar who in all likely will be adding more rings to his fingers in the coming seasons.
When we compare all achievements so far, is Stephen Curry better than Chris Paul? Yes. And I will put him in the 5th position.
4. John Stockton
When it comes to the traditional point guard duties such as passing, calling out plays and getting your teammates involved, no other player in NBA history personifies this like John Stockton. During his 19 year career Stockton became the all-time leader in assists with over 15,000.
When it came to priorities on the court, scoring was last on Stockton’s mind. He was the definition of a team-first player and he only scored when it was the best possible option. Although he was somewhat small in stature (6 foot 1 and only 170lb) he somehow managed a career field-goal percentage of 51.5% which is fantastic for a point guard. Opposing teams were so mindful of his playmaking that this opened up plenty of scoring opportunities and Stockton was able to take them.
Again like with Chris Paul, Curry and Stockton were very different players. Many people point to the fact that Stockton was never able to win a ring, even after making the Finals two times, but don’t forget that he came up against the GOAT in Michael Jordan and that has to be taken into consideration.
3. Isiah Thomas
I don’t care what anyone says, Zeke deserved to make the 1992 ‘Dream Team’ over John Stockton. Thomas was the leader of two-time champion bad boy Pistons who wrecked havoc upon the league in the late 80s and early 90s with their extremely rugged style of play.
In game 6 of the 1988 Finals Isiah Thomas severely sprained his ankle and had to be helped off the floor. He then returned 35 seconds later and proceeded to create one of the most memorable Finals performances in NBA history. Thomas scored 25 points in the 4th quarter to get his team back in the game. Although the Pistons ultimately lost the game and the series the heart and determination shown by Zeke will never be forgotten.
One of Curry’s only weaknesses is his defense. He is small and he doesn’t carry much muscle on him which makes it harder for him to impose himself on defense. Thomas was one of the best point guard defenders of all time thanks to his gritty, blue-collar attitude and defensive intelligence. He was a great two-way player who averaged nearly 20 points and 10 assists throughout his whole career.
2. Oscar Robertson
It was incredible to watch Russell Westbrook absolutely smash the NBA last season and become only the 2nd player in NBA history to average a triple-double. For any player to get a triple-double is a fantastic achievement, to average over 82 games AND lead the league scoring whilst making the playoffs is a feat of athletic excellence that will truly stand the test of time.
The only other player in NBA history to achieve such a feat is the Big O, Oscar Robertson in 1961-62. Robertson was the perfect combination of LeBron James and Russell Westbrook. Standing 6 foot 5 at the point guard position, he dominated the boards as a guard and could shoot and pass over his main defender.
The Big O was in a similar situation to LeBron in his early Cleveland days; he had to do everything on the court for his team to have a chance to win. Steph Curry just has to score and then do some playmaking, he has Klay, Draymond and Durant to help him out so that he can do what he does best.
1. Magic Johnson
Ok, so you know how I talked about John Stockton being the model for pure points guards in the NBA? Imagine Stockton, but make him 6 foot 9, add a lightning quick handle and combine that with a competitive edge to rival Michael Jordan’s.
This is Magic, the greatest point guard who ever lived.
With Magic at the helm, the Lakers won 5 titles in the 1980s and their rivalry with the Celtics is one of the greatest in sports. ‘Showtime’ LA was in full swing as the Lakers used the combination of Magic’s other-worldly court vision and the athleticism of other players to devastate teams on the fast break. Magic holds the NBA record for career assists per game at 11.2 and it is a true tragedy of sports that he had to retire early at 31 due to HIV.
Curry is a great leader for his Warriors, but he’s got nothing on the Magic man. Johnson was maybe the best leader the NBA has ever seen. His drive to win is up there with the very best and he knew exactly when to pass and when to shoot in order for his team to win. Curry will in all likely rise up this list as his career pans out, but if he’s going to challenge for the top spot he needs to up his game yet again.
Where do you rank Stephen Curry amongst the best point guards in NBA history?