Stephen Curry is officially on the map as one of the NBA's elite players following his 36-point, 12-assist performance against the Miami Heat on Thursday. But as Golden State Warriors fans can tell you, that's just a confirmation of what they've long known to be true.
Recently, there has been quite a bit of talk regarding Curry's status as a superstar in the NBA, which is really a never-ending debate; each side has a legitimate argument.
After all, Curry is the NBA's best shooter, considering he holds the single-season record for three-pointers and is second in all-time three-point shooting percentage. He's also one of the NBA's best passers and is among the leaders in scoring.
Yet he only has three full seasons under his belt, turns the ball over like there's no tomorrow (4.1 turnovers per game) and has yet to play in even the conference finals.
But what is certain is that Curry has what it takes to lead his team deep into the playoffs, which is what Warriors fans really should care about. When his team is healthy, as its eight-game winning streak can attest to, it's hard to stop. And that effectiveness really comes down to Curry, whose efficiency beyond the arc is what makes the Warriors tick.
Yet Curry's weakness may also ultimately be the Warriors' undoing. He simply can't secure the ball when he's on offense, and his turnovers are really becoming a serious issue. What's frustrating for Curry's fans and teammates alike is that it's a problem caused simply by a lack of concentration, and more experienced opponents easily exploit it.
For example, take the Warriors' win over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night. Down 91-76 with 6:48 left in the game, the Warriors went on a 20-4 run to take a 96-95 lead. But during that run, Curry committed three turnovers, and the Warriors had to rely on strong defense to preserve their run.
Then, down 99-96, Curry committed yet another turnover, his ninth of the game. Only poor free-throw shooting by the Hawks and a buzzer-beater three-pointer by Andre Iguodala bailed Curry out.
The point is that, if Curry is to lead his team to where it wants to be (which is presumably to an NBA title), his late-game focus must improve. Why rely on clutch shots, like Iguodala's, when improved ball security can prevent those shots from being necessary at all? In short, costly fourth-quarter turnovers won't get the job done.
But that shouldn't take away from Curry's overall brilliance this season. The Warriors point guard also had a near triple-double in the game, with 22 points, nine assists, eight rebounds and five steals, including 14/5/5 in the fourth quarter.
Whether Curry is "elite" and a "superstar," both of which are arbitrary terms, is beside the point. As long as he can continue to lead his team to victory, that argument will take care of itself.