Wednesday, Feb. 27, is a day that Stephen Curry will never forget.
It was a Wednesday night in the Big Apple and the Golden State Warriors were set to face off against the New York Knicks. With David Lee suspended and Andrew Bogut out due to back spasms, all eyes were on Curry to see if he could lead his team to a tough road victory without their starting frontcourt.
Curry ended up leading his team throughout the entire night, as he went off for a wild 54 points while taking just 28 shots, to go along with seven assists and six rebounds. Oh yeah, and did I mention he shot 11-for-13 from downtown?
The game was on ESPN’s national broadcast and the sports world was buzzing for hours after the game. Unfortunately for the Warriors, they fell just short in the end and walked away from Madison Square Garden with a 109-105 loss.
However, despite losing the game, the Warriors actually ended up with one big victory. And that is the fact that they have officially found who their leader, superstar and face of their franchise is: Stephen Curry.
Curry’s 54-point explosion blew him right into stardom. He played every single minute of the game and played as efficiently as possible. He shot 64 percent from the field and a remarkable 85 percent from behind the arc, while also making all seven of his free throws.
Aside from the efficiency, what stands out most about Curry’s historic night was the variety of his scoring. He proved that he has an unlimited amount of weapons in his arsenal, as he was hitting shots from all over the floor. Whether it was a floater in the lane, a double-clutch layup, a pull-up 3 or a deep 3-pointer with a hand in his face, he was fearless all night long. He hit shot after shot that made the fans at Madison Square Garden roar in amazement and it was just a truly special performance.
If there’s another thing that Curry proved from his big game, it’s that he is the purest shooter in the NBA. His silky-smooth jumper is lethal from just about anywhere on the court and no shot is too difficult for him. With the ability to shoot from all different positions–spot up, transition, off the dribble, fade-away with a hand in his face–it really sets him apart from other shooters in the league. Guys like Ray Allen and Kyle Korver are great shooters, especially from behind the arc, but excel mainly on spot-up shots. They just don’t have the same ability of freeing themselves from defenders and knocking down the jumper like Curry does. Nobody does.
When the Golden State Warriors drafted Curry with the seventh overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft, they knew they were selecting a special player. But I don’t think they realized how special.
He has had his ankle issues in the past, especially last season, when he was shut down for most of the year due to his lingering injuries, but it’s time for everyone to move past that.
Curry is proving this season that when healthy, he can do just about anything. His 21.9 points and 6.5 assists per game is exactly the production that Golden State has needed from their 24-year-old point guard this season. Combine those numbers with Lee’s All-Star season, a recovering Bogut and a squad made up of lots of young talent and you have a team that sits at sixth place in the loaded Western Conference.
Golden State is finally on the rise and coach Mark Jackson has been preaching to his team very nicely. The confidence he instills in them is evident; just look at all their bench players that have stepped up and made big plays all season, as well as their star players who have turned it up a notch. As a former point guard himself, Jackson has done a great job in helping Curry develop into the best player he can be, something that Don Nelson and Keith Smart failed to do.
Curry’s scoring frenzy at MSG just strengthens his case as a superstar in the NBA and at this point, you’d have to be a fool to deny him of that title. He’s a point guard with a very high basketball IQ who can score from anywhere on the court and a guy who is always looking to make the right play. Curry is finally healthy and showing the world what he’s really made of.
It’s a good thing that the Warriors signed Curry to a four-year extension this past off-season and Golden State should be euphoric that he is with the team for the long run.