Ranking the 50 greatest NBA players of all time

The Last Dance, Michael Jordan, LeBron James (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
The Last Dance, Michael Jordan, LeBron James (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /
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14. Stephen Curry

  • Resume: 11 seasons, 3 NBA championships, 2 regular season MVP Awards, 6-time All-NBA selection, 6-time NBA All-Star, 1-time NBA leader in scoring, 1-time NBA leader in steals, 1-time 50-40-90 club member
  • Stats: 23.5 PPG, 6.6 APG, 4.5 RPG, 1.7 SPG, .476/.435/.906 shooting splits, 23.9 career PER, 103.2 win shares

It took a few seasons for Stephen Curry to find the track to NBA superstardom, but once he did, there was no question about his status as one of the greatest and most accomplished point guards to ever play the game.

Injuries led to a bargain contract extension for Curry early in his career, but that turned out to be a blessing that allowed Golden State to afford mega-deals for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and eventually Kevin Durant. Even before these super-team Warriors assembled, however, Curry had transformed this formerly forlorn franchise into an absolute powerhouse.

His first MVP campaign came out of nowhere, and though his 23.8 points, 7.7 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game in 2014-15 don’t exactly leap off the page, it’s worth mentioning that they came in only 32.7 minutes per game. He routinely sat out entire fourth quarters, posted .487/.443/.914 shooting splits and, oh yeah, his team won 67 games and eventually went on to win the Bay Area’s first NBA title in 40 years.

Yet somehow, Curry was even better in 2015-16. As the first unanimous MVP in NBA history, Curry put up a jaw-dropping 30.1 points, 6.7 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game. He joined the 50-40-90 club with .504/.454/.908 shooting splits, led his team to an NBA-record 73 wins, and sank a single-season record 402 3-pointers to cement his place as the greatest shooter of all time.

Every single night, Curry thrilled NBA audiences with incomprehensible heat checks, dazzling handles and a flair for thriving in the spotlight. His game-winning 3-pointer against the Thunder remains perhaps the most memorable game-winner in regular season history, not just because it came in overtime from half-court, capped off a 46-point performance or tied the single-game record for most 3-pointers with 12, but because everyone watching knew it was going in.

Decimating opponents’ will to compete, no matter where he’s launching from, just feels so inevitable with Curry. With the handles the create separation, a shockingly quick release and pinpoint accuracy from the furthest of distances, Chef Curry is unstoppable one-on-one.

He’s also much better finishing around the rim than people give him credit for, and the gravity he creates just by being a threat on the perimeter is what has made the Warriors’ offense hum — with or without Durant.

Though he fell short of capping off the greatest team season ever in 2016, his injury (along with Draymond Green’s Game 5 suspension and LeBron James entering another stratosphere) played a part in that. Still, his 2015-16 campaign is arguably the greatest offensive season the league has ever seen.

Curry now holds the NBA record for most 3s in a single season (402) and Finals game (nine), and held the record for a regular season game (13) until Klay Thompson broke it with 14 in 2018-19. Curry has three championships to his name, sacrificed to get Durant acclimated in their first season and then reclaimed the reins when KD missed time with an injury. He’s also going to own every relevant 3-point record by the time his career is done.

With two MVP Awards, Curry joins the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Wilt Chamberlain, Moses Malone, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Bob Pettit, Karl Malone, Tim Duncan and Steve Nash as the only multi-time MVP winners in NBA history.

Though he and the Warriors missed out on a potential three-peat due to bad injury luck, and his 2019-20 revenge campaign was limited to just five games because of injury, Curry could conceivably climb this list depending on how his remaining years pan out. Durant is gone, and Thompson will have spent two lost seasons rehabbing from a torn ACL and then a torn Achilles. Curry has gotten the opportunity to go back to being a human flamethrower for this shorthanded Dubs team that everyone is writing off, but the same level of championship success may not follow.

But even if this is the end of the Warriors dynasty, Curry was the linchpin behind a team that went to five consecutive NBA Finals and he was already one of the most accomplished players in league history after his first 10 seasons. Here’s hoping at some point we can get this dude a Finals MVP award so everyone will finally shut up about it.