Because the story with the Golden State Warriors this season has mostly been one of underachievement, Stephen Curry probably doesn’t get as much love as he should. I know what you’re thinking. He was an All-Star snub LAST season, but THIS season he ousted every other point guard in the West for the starting point guard spot! He’s one of pretty much everyone’s favorite players! How can he be overrated?
Those are all fair statements. But because the Warriors haven’t taken the West by storm in their first season with Andre Iguodala, Curry unfairly gets dismissed in the runner-up Most Valuable Player talk. Nobody should question that Kevin Durant will win (and deserves to win) his first MVP Award this season, but names like Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, James Harden and even guys like Goran Dragic and Joakim Noah come to mind before Curry as the third-best candidate.
Is that fair since his team hasn’t met its lofty expectations this season? Possibly. But last night against the Memphis Grizzlies, Curry did his best to singlehandedly raise NBA League Pass ratings on a night where two phenomenal NCAA games dominated the basketball audience’s attention. But inside Oracle Arena, as Curry put the Dubs on his back against a playoff hungry Grizzlies team, there was plenty of March Madness to go around.
Curry finished with 33 points, eight assists, five rebounds, two blocks and a steal while shooting 13-of-22 from the floor and 5-of-8 from three-point range. But even his box score numbers don’t do last night’s performance justice. Curry turned into the Human Torch, only if the Human Torch was a serial killer, because he also went positively Hannibal Lecter on the Grizzlies down the stretch. He was the embodiment of “baby-faced assassin,” except calling him that to his face last night would’ve resulted in a dagger three in your eye. For Grizzlies fans, watching Curry carry the Dubs all night and then finish things off in the game’s final minutes was probably like watching Mel Gibson‘s mental breakdown in The Patriot at the 2:30 mark of this clip:
The most ruthless possession came with the score tied at 93 and less than two minutes to play: Curry blocked a Tony Allen three-point attempt and after Jermaine O’Neal cleaned up Allen’s followup miss, Curry came back down the court and drilled the go-ahead three with 1:21 left to play. And if that wasn’t enough, one Warriors stop later Curry cruelly exploited the defense again, this time for a scoop layup across the lane that Zach Randolph had no chance of ever defending. In two plays, Curry turned judge, jury and executioner, which is even more impressive considering the Warriors ended the game on a 14-0 run after trailing 93-86.
So why all the excessive Curry praise? Well first of all, because it is right and just. When you have a 6’3″, 185-pound shrimp of a point guard making a talented defensive team like Memphis look foolish with lightning quick handles, dazzling passing and unstoppable stepback threes, while doing everything but assuming the form of all four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, it’s probably worth mentioning. But the bigger point is that without Stephen Curry, the Golden State Warriors wouldn’t be a playoff team this year.
The Dubs are a defense-first team, as Mark Jackson and anyone who have watched this team for more than a couple of games will tell you. Iguodala, Andrew Bogut and Draymond Green are all criminally underrated for the important defensive roles they play. But come playoff time, when the Dubs have to take on one of the real Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in the West (San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets are their names), the only prayer the Warriors have of advancing is Steph Curry getting blistering hot and burying defenses with the blatant disregard that makes him so fun to watch. Since that’s a tall order for a seven-game series against any one of the West’s elite top seeds, we might as well just appreciate another magnificent night from what should be a First Team All-NBA point guard this season.