Every great player is unique in his own way. It is the trait of daring to be different from others, to go on to create your own style of play, that always separates the greats even from themselves. Michael Jordan, the game’s most iconic figure, predicated his game in his quickness and the ability to score at will all throughout the perimeter, along with having superb defensive skills. Lebron James is known for arguably being the most complete player the game has seen, cementing his position as an all time great for his unique disposition. Larry Bird, while never being the best athlete even in his own team, crafted a style of play that relied greatly on physicality, mental strength, and deadly outside shooting that paved the way for the next generation to mold themselves by. All three players where different in style, buy they all had the common denominator of being the greatest in what they did, and this in turn resulted in their recognition as part of the all time greats.
The Brilliance of Steph Curry
This pattern of being different has shown up once again with the rise of Steph Curry, the 2015 regular season MVP and key member of the current NBA Champions Golden State Warriors. Curry’s game is pretty basic: excellent three point shooting, great ball handler and distributor of the basket. While his game is based on the same hashed out formula used by those that have come before him to much success, his abilities in all those separates him from them all. It is safe to say that no player in history has a game close to even similar to that of Curry’s, standing on a pedestal all by himself when judging him, a rare feat only greatest of athletes have been able to achieve.
Let’s start with the most obvious trait that makes him completely different from anyone else: his three point shooting. There have been many great three point shooters throughout NBA history, such as Reggie Miller and Ray Allen, but none as versatile as Curry. He makes it seem a flawless art, and much easier than it really is, not only in the form of catch and shoot, but also coming off the dribble while also being heavily guarded. In just his 6th year in the league, he has a total of 1,191 made three pointers with an astounding 44% shooting percentage behind the ark, on pace to soon break the all time record in that category. He currently holds the record of most three point field goals in a season, which he made last season with 286, breaking the record he once held as well when he made 272 three pointers for the 2012-2013 season.
All of the success he has produced on the three point line as well as inside the perimeter has been an immense part of his renowned shooing form. One of the quickest releases in the league (he takes a mere 0.4 seconds to release his shot compared to the league average 0.6), Curry’s shot is almost un-guardable despite being release at a very blockable position. It’s incredibly smooth, while very fluid, allowing it to be very consistent from all ranges. A case can be made for it being the best shooting form of any player in history, rivaling Ray Allen’s meticulous form and Bird’s enduring shot.
Curry also fits the mold of not being a traditional point guard, thanks largely in part by his superb shooting. He is, nevertheless, a great facilitator in that position, averaging close to seven assists per game for his career. A relative small amount considering his position, the numbers fail to tell the whole story. A team like the Warriors predicate their success on offense based on ball movement, and Curry, while being great at this, also enjoys success by being assisted as well. His ability to be so effective while scoring is what permits the team to be a great passing team, allowing him to be versatile on both side, and his importance as a point guard to not dwindle at all.
Currently 27 years old, Curry has many more years to cement his already impressive career. He’s already an NBA Champion, and has a lot of opportunities to add more, as Golden State has enough talent and potential to start a dynasty with the set of pieces they posses. His style of play may be consider unorthodox to some, but it’s history itself that has proven those who dare challenge conventional wisdom are the ones who are most remember in the eyes of time. Like all great players before him, Curry will be remembered for his unique abilities, and for changing the conception of what a point guard can be. There is never going to be a player similar or even close to him, and it is best to appreciate greatness for the next coming years as best we can.