The Golden State Warriors still have 17 games left in the NBA regular season. And yet, we're already out of superlatives to pile on the team and their diminutive and deadly leader, Stephen Curry.
Even President Obama, a noted fan of both the Chicago Bulls and understatement, couldn't hide his excitement when discussing Curry in a recent interview with Time.
“Steph Curry is the greatest shooter that I’ve ever seen ... I am having more fun watching him than anybody since Michael Jordan," Obama said.
Magic Johnson seems to agree with Obama. In a tweet last month, Johnson said Curry had a "chance to be the most exciting player ever!"
Magic is right. But let's cut the couched language: With apologies to Allen Iverson, Jason Williams, Shawn Kemp, Vince Carter, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Bernard King, Magic Johnson and even Michael Jordan, Stephen Curry is already the most exciting NBA player ever.
Curry's as exciting to watch as a casino card-counter who keeps hitting 21, drawing in curious eyes and gaining the favor of surrounding rival casino-goers, who can't help but oooh and ahhh at his preposterous success. His regular shots would be panned as reckless and unintelligent coming from 99 percent of NBA players, but Curry's consistency has improved so much that any shot is good coming out of his hands.
For instance, this pull-up jumper just beyond the break. He made reigning Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard look like a lost puppy:
He'll also bang in 3-point attempts when you least expect it:
His game-winning 3-pointers would actually be considered 4-pointers to the Harlem Globetrotters:
And we're now at a point where people expect Curry to rip their hearts out with a 28-foot shot:
Off the dribble, Curry's moves are making a mockery of entire teams:
And now, he doesn't even need to see his shots fall to just know that, like, they're totally falling:
Whether you're a Warriors-die hard or have just seen a few Curry clips here and there, it doesn't take a psychologist to notice the pure joy with which he plays the game.
Curry's showmanship is awe-inspiring, so much so that he can sometimes seem borderline reckless, but it's also masking his most tangible achievement: 2015-16 Curry has morphed into the most efficient and dynamic non-big on offense the NBA has ever seen, Jordan included.
That's no fault of Jordan's. Curry has simply taken advantage of two things that Jordan could not: First, 3-point shot attempts have steadily risen year-to-year since the arc was introduced in 1979, but this season, it's up 30 percent since the start of the decade, giving the term "green light" all new value as it applies to Curry. And two, tweaks to the hand-checking rule ultimately gave guards and shooters like Curry more space in which to operate.
These changes set the game up for a more exciting style of play -- spacing the floor, bringing balance to the slow and methodical post-ups of big men -- so by extension, the player who can take advantage of this new, modern game will naturally become its most exciting man.
As such, he's become the NBA's greatest offensive point guard ever. Just check out all the NBA milestones the 2015-16 iteration of Curry is on track to hit (per Basketball-Reference):
- He's having the most efficient season ever. Curry's Player Efficiency Rating (PER), a metric used to track a player's per-minute statistical production, is currently 32.35, which tops Wilt Chamberlain's record of 31.82 set in 1963. No qualifying NBA player has ever finished with a single-season PER above 32.
- He's the leader of the NBA's best offense. His offensive box plus-minus, which estimates how many points per 100 possessions a player contributed to his team over a league average player, is 12.8, nearly a full 3 points higher than Michael Jordan's single-season record of 9.82, set in 1988.
- His team is ridiculously better with him on the floor. His overall box plus-minus of 12.8 would be second all-time to LeBron James' 12.99 mark set in 2009, his final year with the Cleveland Cavaliers. And that's with Curry's sub-par defense knocking his overall plus-minus down a clip.
- He's leading the Warriors to a potential 73-win season. His win shares per 48 minutes, which is an estimate of the number of wins a player contributes in an entire 48-minute NBA game, sits at .327 -- only second to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's 1972 record of .339.
- The only other player with a better shooting percentage was a role player. Curry's .679 true-shooting percentage, a stat that considers the efficiency of all shot types, would be the second highest percentage ever posted by a non-big man since the 3-point line was introduced. Kyle Korver, a 3-point specialist who has never shot the ball at Curry's frequency, holds that record at .698.
- And of course, he's the 3-point shooting GOAT. He's already broken his own record for single-season 3-pointers made, and will finish as the league's 3-point leader for the fourth consecutive season.
Just to really separate Curry from the pack, the below statistic exists, but only because Curry shot it into relevance -- no other player dares to shoot from over 27 feet every game.
At 28 years old, Curry is making the most of his athletic prime and on a team that's aiming to break the NBA regular season win record of 72-10, set by Jordan's Bulls in 1996. His play and his team's ability to win championships over the next five years of his life could disrupt the NBA's pantheon.
The 2015-2016 iteration of Curry is the most exciting player and the best offensive player the NBA has ever seen, and it could end with him stealing one of Michael Jordan's resume bullets of holding the top regular season record. If he can keep it up, the GOAT is going to have to watch the throne, too.