Photo Credit: The DC Gazette
When you look at the young career of Stephen Curry and look at all he has accomplished, you would think people would have very little to say about his flaws. I could go on forever explaining all the records he holds and everything he has done throughout a short period of time, but that is not what this article is about. Ever since blowing the 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals to LeBron James and company, Stephen Curry has become one of the most criticized players in all of sports. In a recent poll I was involved in, the votes said the public would take Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving, and even Damian Lillard over Curry if they had to choose. The hate surrounding him is so constant I actually sometimes find myself agreeing with them, even though he is the only MVP of these 4 players. Stephen A. Smith said he would even take Klay Thompson over Curry if he had to cut one player off of the Warriors. When writing articles, I usually try to have my opinion set in stone by being as unbiased as possible. Unfortunately though, the arguments for both sides of Stephen Curry are both really good, and I could not come to a direct conclusion. So this article will be a little different from what I am used to. I will simply name the parts of his criticism I agree and disagree with, and let you decide for yourself what you think. Please let me know your opinions in the comments, as I am interested in seeing what kind of feedback I get.
First, let’s look at the problems with Stephen Curry’s game that has led to such criticism. Many people would argue Kyrie Irving is more valuable to a team than Curry is, and I actually would open up a debate about this. Stephen Curry is much more established and has more accolades around him. But if you look at Irving’s performances against Golden State, namely against Stephen Curry, Irving typically outplays Curry, or at least gets really close. I’ll go a little more in-depth later in the article, but for now just know I would have to say Stephen Curry is a better player, but Irving is more valuable when it comes to winning important games. If I need someone to take the game-winning shot for my team, I’m taking Irving over just about anyone else in basketball. That killer mentality alone was enough to call Kobe Bryant an NBA legend. That same assassin’s instinct in Irving this early in his career is something that cannot be denied, especially given that Curry hasn’t capped that off yet. Many people will put an asterisk next to The Warriors’ 2015 championship nowadays. The Cleveland Cavaliers had lost two of their All-Stars, and the Warriors were expected to really roll over Cleveland. However, Stephen Curry was nowhere to be found. The Series took way longer to be closed out than it should have, and even then Andre Iguodala, who is more of a role player) was named Finals MVP. The next season, Stephen Curry and the Warriors were taken down in maybe the most embarrassing way possible via LeBron James and the Cavaliers.
This is when things truly get complicated. To start, Stephen Curry truly did deserve 2015 Finals MVP. Just comparing their stats, Curry averaged 26 points per game, 9.7 points more than Iguodala’s 16.3. Curry outplayed his teammate in 3 of the 5 major categories, points, steals, and assists, relatively large margins. In fact, Iguodala only led Curry in rebounds per game by 0.6 rebounds per game, and blocks per game was relatively irrelevant to compare, as Iguodala out-blocked Curry 0.3 blocks to 0.2 blocks. Many remember the 2016 NBA Finals as when Stephen Curry choked away his 3-1 lead. However, we need to re-evaluate what it means to choke. He scored 22.6 points per game on 40% 3 point field goal percentage, 4.9 rebounds per game, 3.7 assists per game, and close to 1 steal per game. Those numbers are not too bad, yet Stephen Curry has gotten about as much criticism as LeBron James did when he lost to Dallas, which is actually my next point. LeBron James lost his first 2 finals appearances. James was 27 when he choked away that game. In that series, he scored 17.8 points per game, 7.2 rebounds per game, and 6.8 assists per game. Those numbers are not too good. Stephen Curry does not “show up” when it matters most. However, let’s please remember he is only 28 years old. It would not take a miracle for him to develop into someone who can take over a game.
Stephen Curry has been absolutely amazing. However, the problems with his play in important games is an issue worth bringing up. He has time to prove he can show up when it counts, but he is still yet to do so. I really do not care how many times he scores 40 points on a mediocre team until he can do the same against teams like Cleveland. I would guess many people agree. To many, he still has not earned an NBA Championship. However, he has a lot of prime years left in his career, so there is no reason to panic and say his legacy will be forever tarnished.