Has Stephen Curry Proved He Is a Top-5 Point Guard?
Curry was drafted after James Harden, Tyreke Evans, Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn, and four years later the only player among those mentioned who have enjoyed the same level of professional success is Harden.
When the Warriors selected Curry, many analysts couldn't see beyond his feathery jump shot. Despite the quickest release in recent memory, few felt that he would be able to consistently get that shot off against NBA-level talent.
To be fair, can those critics be blamed for failing to understand what type of talent Curry truly was considering his path to the NBA?
Curry wasn't on many major college radars following his senior season at Charlotte Christian School in Charlotte, NC in spite of his ridiculous shooting skill, which was evident early.
In fact, even though Charlotte sits in the heart of ACC country the only school in that conference that even offered to give Curry a look was Virginia Tech, and that was only because his father Dell was a former player.
It was abundantly clear at the time that Curry had inherited his father's jump shot, but that still wasn't enough to persuade Virginia Tech to offer him a scholarship.
The Currys chose to decline Dell's alma mater's offer to walk-on as a freshman, and instead Stephen enrolled at tiny Davidson, just outside of Charlotte. The rest is history.
Curry was consistently among the top scorers in college basketball during his time at Davidson, and despite leading a run in the 2007 NCAA tournament that ended just short of the Final Four, and a switch to point guard during his final season in college no one thought he could produce the same way at the next level.
Not only has Curry proved his doubters wrong, but at this point there are serious questions as to how good the 25-year-old sensation can be if he keeps improving.
Curry has already connected on more three-pointers than any other player in a single season. He did it in 61 fewer attempts than Ray Allen, and his 45 percent shooting percentage from long range proves he did it more efficiently.
However, everyone already knew Curry could shoot, it's the other parts of his game that deserve attention.
Curry's other talents, such as his smooth handles (as demonstrated in the video above) and court vision, are easy to overlook when Curry is raining down threes often over multiple defenders, but those are the aspects of his game that have boosted him to elite status.
Chris Paul, Tony Parker and Deron Williams are probably considered the top point guards still playing at this point, and statistically Curry has out-performed each one of them in the postseason, and it's not even close.
Curry is the only one averaging double-digit assists in that group, and his 26 points per game is four more than Parker's 22 per game.
And it's not like Curry has the benefit of a Blake Griffin, Tim Duncan or Brook Lopez in the paint either.
The Warriors lost their top big man David Lee for the remainder of the postseason in their Game 1 loss against the Denver Nuggets, and Golden State hasn't lost since.
Everyone in the arena knows that if you shut down Curry you kill the Warriors' season, but how exactly does an opponent do it?
If you choose to crowd Curry on the perimeter he simply drives around you and passes to a wide open teammate, or he unleashes a deadly array of soft floaters in the lane.
You can try doubling Curry early but that leaves him a variety of passing lanes, or in the most frustrating instance he just shoots over any number of defenders an opponent sends at him.
In my opinion the definition of an elite player is one who defies any game plan to stop him, and we can safely say that Curry occupies that space, even with an injured ankle.
Is Stephen Curry a Top 5 Point Guard Right Now?
Most people will still be hesitant to include Curry in a class of elite lead guards that includes Paul, Williams, Parker and the injured Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose, but in truth he's already there.
Each of those players has an attribute that sets them apart from the field like Paul's feel for a situation or Williams' strength or Parker's quickness, and Curry has that same talent with his shooting ability.
However, none of those players can be defined by a single skill and neither can Curry.
Whether or not Curry is a top-five player at his position is a highly subjective question, but what does it mean when you add in the fact that he's performing at a higher level than all of the point guards ranked above him?
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