Since being drafted seventh overall by the Golden State Warriors in 2009, Davidson star Stephen Curry took a few years to get going. But once he got going, he hasn’t stopped at all.
The big picture: With presumably almost a decade left in his career, is it fair to say that Curry is the greatest Warrior of all time after what he’s done for the franchise?
Curry’s early years in the Bay Area
Although Curry initially said he wanted to go eighth to the New York Knicks, the Warriors swooped in. His rookie year proved to be promising, as he averaged 17.5 points, 5.9 assists and 4.5 rebounds in 36.2 minutes per game (MPG). He also shot 46%/43%/88% from the field, 3-point land and free-throw line.
Also, he played 80 games and narrowly missed winning the Rookie of the Year to Tyreke Evans. That said, it seemed like injuries were going to derail his career. In particular, his 2012 season was riddled with ankle injuries, as he only played 26 out of 66 games that year.
Nevertheless, for his first five seasons, Curry:
- Averaged 20.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 6.7 assists in 35.6 MPG
- Shot 46.7%/44%/89.6% from the field, 3-point land and free-throw line, respectively
- Was a one-time selection to the All-Star and All-NBA team – 2nd team
Thankfully, multiple surgeries and getting studier ankle braces helped Curry regain his confidence. Plus, getting a new head coach that catered to his strengths doesn’t hurt either.
The Warriors are cooking with Chef Curry
Although Curry was a good player under former head coach Mark Jackson, Curry thrived under new head coach Steve Kerr. Kerr focused on the Warriors’ strengths, implementing a “pace-and-space” offense, utilizing ball movement and 3-pointers.
With this new offensive focus, Curry and the rest of the Warriors exploded onto the scene. In 2015, the Warriors won 67 games en route to winning their first NBA championship in 40 years. The next five years signaled the Warriors dynasty in which Curry:
- Averaged 26.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and 6.5 assists in 33.3 mpg
- Shot 48.5%/43%/91% from the field, on 3-pointers and on free throws
- Was a five-time All-Star and All-NBA selection – three times on the 1st, once on both the 2nd and 3rd teams – three-time NBA champion and two-time MVP
Curry was also the steals (2.1) and scoring champion (30.1) in 2016. Though the Warriors didn’t win the championship that year, their loss allowed them to sign Kevin Durant. His signing helped the Warriors win two more championships (2017, 2018).
However, none of that is possible with Curry. Under Kerr’s tutelage, Curry’s incredible 3-point shooting helped teams understand the importance of 3-pointers. That ushered in the NBA’s “3-Point Revolution,” with teams focusing more on 3-pointers than other shots.
In that sense, Curry is a game-changer; it’s doubtful other teams would have embraced the 3-point shot if not for Curry leading the Warriors to great success.
What does the future hold for him and the Warriors?
As the 32-year-old Curry continues to age, it’s easy to see him age gracefully. Since shooting is one of the last skills to go, Curry can take a similar path as Ray Allen. Toward the end of his career, Allen easily transitioned to the bench, helping the Miami Heat reach the NBA Finals in back-to-back years.
Curry can do something similar. His ability to move off the ball is unmatched and considering he’s already the greatest shooter in NBA history, he can feasibly play until his early 40s. Discounting his injury-riddled 2020 season, Curry could realistically:
- Average 15-20 points, four rebounds and five assists in 27-30 mpg
- Shoot 44%/40%/88% from the field, 3-point land and free-throw line
- Win another championship and make at least two more All-Star and All-NBA teams
Regardless of age, Curry’s ability to shoot the ball will continue to make him one of the most dangerous players on the court. That’s why it’s easy to see him as either a starter or coming off the bench in his later years and still continue to dominate.
The bottom line: Curry is already the greatest Warrior in team history
As it stands, there really isn’t a Warrior – current or past – that could compete with Curry as the greatest Warrior in team history. In terms of popularity, perhaps the only player to come close to Curry in recent years was Monta Ellis.
A Warrior for five-and-a-half years, Ellis was traded in 2012 for Andrew Bogut and fans were not happy. He was a crowd-favorite and though his trade stung, it ultimately paved the way for the Warriors’ dynasty. Another that comes to mind is Baron Davis though he didn’t have the longevity of Curry. Regarding stats, Wilt Chamberlain is still tops Curry but he played in a much different era.
Regardless, with his impact on-and-off the court in mind, it’s safe to say that Curry is the greatest Warrior.