The question of whether Stephen Curry should be in the MVP race or not is a topical one. On the surface, his numbers completely support him being in the race for MVP. Heck, depending on what you value most, Curry might be your MVP. But the competition is stiffer than it’s been since Curry won the award unanimously five years ago.
Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic have revolutionized the modern-day center position. And the addition of James Harden has kept the Brooklyn Nets in second place while dealing with injuries to Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. On top of that, the Golden State Warriors are only ninth in the Western Conference standings. But this article is going to showcase Curry’s brilliance this season. Curry’s been much more than just the captain of his ship. This is why Stephen Curry should be in the MVP race.
Stephen Curry Should Be In The MVP Race
His Numbers Match His Unanimous MVP Year
Raw statistics make up a chunk of why Stephen Curry should be in the MVP race. And Curry’s numbers are eerily similar to the numbers he had a handful of years ago. His 31.1 points per game are now best in the league ahead of Bradley Beal and one point more than his MVP year. What’s more impressive is his efficiency is almost identical despite a paradigm shift in his surrounding talent. Of the 12 three-point attempts Curry averages a game, 42.5 percent go in.
Another factor in Curry’s game that hasn’t changed is his efficient ball handling. Despite a career-high in usage rate, he only turns the ball over 3.3 times per game and still dishes out 5.9 assists each night. Not bad considering every opponent has their defensive game plan focused on stopping him. Stephen Curry should be in the MVP race also because of the records he’s breaking. On Monday night he broke the late Kobe Bryant‘s record of consecutive 30 point games for a player 33 years or older with 11.
Finally, for pure numbers, we have to look at Curry’s splits pre-all-star versus post-all-star break. In 16 games since the break, Curry’s averaging 5.4 more points and is shooting the three at a 4 percent higher clip. After the first month of the season, I mentioned Curry’s All-NBA first month as one of the biggest surprises in the league. The fact that he’s taken that first month and shattered it with his month of April is absolutely stunning. How’s this stat line for you? In April, Curry averages 38.7 points on 52.3 percent field goal percentage and a whopping 47.1 from downtown!
He’s Stayed Relatively Healthier Than The Competition
Unfortunately for NBA fans, this year has looked more like the NFL with the number of injuries to star players across the league. LeBron James was an MVP frontrunner early in the season before an ankle injury caused him 17 games and counting. Embiid has now missed 18 games this year for the first-place Philadelphia 76ers. And the trio of Durant, Harden, and Irving has been a three-headed rotation of injuries as well.
Curry is staying relatively healthy in 2021 at 33 years old. After an injury and COVID-derailed 2019-20 season that only saw Curry play five games, it was fair to wonder what his future would look like. In the limited action that year, Curry looked like a shell of his former dynasty-leading self. And although Curry hasn’t had a perfect bill of health, he’s played in 51 of his teams’ 59 games. The memories of Curry’s struggles feel like a lifetime ago now watching Curry razzle and dazzle every time he touches the ball.
And thank goodness Curry has been healthy most of the year for the Warriors. There hasn’t been a team that’s dealt with the injury bug as bad as the Warriors. Fellow splash brother Klay Thompson tore his Achilles before the season started. And number two overall pick James Wiseman is recently out for the year with a torn meniscus. Curry is having to create for himself and others and is the most reliable player when the team needs a big bucket. Curry is operating at arguably the best version of himself ever on a team that would be drafting high in the lottery without him.
The Warriors Are BAD Without Curry
The final reason Stephen Curry should be in the MVP race is that there’s almost nobody in the NBA as valuable to their team as he is. Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets is the only other player in the league with a higher offensive plus/minus than him. The first stat to back this up is the 1-7 record the Warriors have in games without Curry this year. In those games, they average 102.4 points per game which would rank last in the NBA. It’s also very glaring looking at the depth chart and realizing that there’s no backup point guard.
Brad Wanamaker was brought in this offseason to provide quality backup minutes to Curry after showing some flashes last year with the Boston Celtics. Wanamaker was traded at the deadline so that leaves a glaring hole should Curry miss more time. Nico Mannion has only played 23 games in the pros as he’s on a two-way contract and is a work in progress defensively. Gary Payton II currently slots into the role but has been a journeyman his whole career for a reason. And no offense to Jordan Poole who’s efficiency has increased from last year, but he’s not a point guard by any means.
To conclude, although Curry’s never been an excellent defender, he makes the effort each game. His defensive rating is middle of the pack compared to the rest of the league. But the effort he puts results in deflections and puts pressure on the perimeter. Head coach Steve Kerr even went out of his way after a late February game to applaud Curry’s defense on the season as a whole.
Stephen Curry Should Be In The MVP Race & Near The Top
Stephen Curry should be in the MVP race because as I said earlier, they’d be a lottery team otherwise. Given how poorly Kelly Oubre Jr started the season, Curry had a massive amount of pressure to be the offensive catalyst. The team also didn’t have hardly any chemistry playing together to begin the season. Draymond Green, Kevon Looney, and Damion Lee are the only players Curry played with on the dynasty who remain.
He doesn’t have to win the award, but Curry needs to be recognized near the top of the list of most valuable players in the league. In a year where basketball has felt a bit less fun due to COVID and the massive injury list, Curry’s been a bright light. He’s been the magician and entertainer the league needs and is must-watch TV. Enjoy the living legend and his peak while it lasts because we may never see a player influence the game this much again.