Happy Birthday to Steph Curry with 26 Fantastic Career Highlights

Ben LeibowitzCorrespondent IIIMarch 14, 2014

Happy Birthday to Steph Curry with 26 Fantastic Career Highlights

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    Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

    Golden State Warriors All-Star point guard Stephen Curry is celebrating his 26th birthday Friday, March 14. As NBA fans, there's no better way to celebrate along with the accomplished floor general than by watching 26 of his career highlights.

    The Dubs' alpha dog is averaging 23.2 points, 8.6 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game in 2013-14. He's knocking down 40.9 percent of his three-point attempts and has the Warriors sitting comfortably with a 41-25 record—sixth-best in the loaded Western Conference.

    Although repeated ankle injuries early in his career set him back, Curry has made up for lost time by exploding onto the NBA scene over the last two seasons. He's arguably a top-five point guard in the Association and will likely continue to improve as he enters the prime of his career.

    The Davidson product has repeatedly wowed NBA fans with his beautiful shooting stroke, something you'll see quite a bit of during the countdown.

26-17. Steph Curry's 2012-13 Highlights

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    We'll begin the birthday countdown with a top-10 compilation of Steph Curry's best highlights from the 2012-13 season—when he helped lead the Warriors into the playoffs and got snubbed from the 2013 NBA All-Star Game during his maturation into an NBA superstar.

    Curry opens the highlight by putting Charlotte Bobcats guard Jeff Taylor—a respected perimeter defender—in a spin cycle. He makes his opponent look downright foolish before burying an open three.

    His single-season NBA record 270th made three-pointer is represented as well—he finished with 272 makes all told.

    Four-point plays, nasty crossovers, nifty assists and silky-smooth jumpers are all represented as part of his impressive repertoire.

    All in all, this serves as a solid primer to lead us the rest of the way.

16-7. Curry's All-Star First Half

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    While Curry was arguably the most egregious snub from the 2013 All-Star Game, it didn't take the youngster long to earn his first ever appearance.

    The top-10 pre-All-Star highlights show just a small dose of what Curry put on display during the first half of the 2013-14 NBA season en route to being voted in as a Western Conference starter—including two game-winners.

    The 26-year-old was actually much better prior to the All-Star break than he's been in 13 games since that time. Here's the breakdown, via NBA.com:

    Pre All-Star (50 games): 24.6 points, 9.0 assists, 4.4 rebounds, 1.7 steals, 46.3 percent shooting and 41.5 percent three-point shooting.

    Post All-Star (13 games): 17.5 points, 7.3 assists, 4.4 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 44.2 percent shooting and 37.5 percent three-point shooting.

    Curry's numbers have been stellar either way, but he's had his minutes reduced in recent games, partially due to a quad injury and partly because of backup point guard Steve Blake, whose acquisition has allowed head coach Mark Jackson to scale back Curry's workload.

    Jackson will need his best player fresh if the Warriors are going to succeed in the postseason.

6. Collegiate Career at Davidson

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    In three years at Davidson from 2006-07 through 2008-09, Curry was absolutely dominant.

    He averaged more than 21 points per game in each of his three collegiate seasons, which included shooting better than 51 percent on two-point field goals each year, according to Sports Reference.

    For his college career (104 games), Curry averaged 25.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. He led the nation in scoring his junior season, averaging 28.6 points. His shooting prowess and overall skill was a prominent sign of things to come.

    He exploded for 44 points against NC State on Dec. 6, 2008, and performed marvelously in the 2008 NCAA Tournament.

    The Memphis Grizzlies, Sacramento Kings and Minnesota Timberwolves (twice) were among the teams that passed on drafting him in 2009.

5. The 2011 Skills Challenge Champion

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    Back before the Skills Challenge at NBA All-Star weekend was changed into a team event for some unknown reason, Curry came out victorious in 2011's competition.

    His talented display of passing, shooting and weaving through traffic off the dribble ensured a win over Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook.

    The Skills Challenge tests the finesse of the NBA's best ball-handlers, and Curry proved himself to be up to the task.

    Winning the Skills Challenge in 2011 will undoubtedly be a footnote at the end of Curry's NBA career, but it was still fun to watch him go to work.

4. Scoring 22 Third-Quarter Points in Playoffs

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    Stephen Curry stepped up big in the first round of the 2013 NBA playoffs.

    In Game 4 against the 57-win Denver Nuggets (leading the series 2-1), Curry exploded for a 22-point third quarter—all in the in final 6:30 of the frame—leading Golden State to victory in the process.

    The win padded the Warriors' series lead to 3-1. They ended up completing the upset in six games.

    All told, Curry finished with 31 points in Game 4 on 6-of-11 shooting from long distance. His stellar performance was just one more to put the rest of the league on notice.

3. Curry's Overall Postseason Play

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    It's difficult to fathom that Curry's appearance in the 2013 NBA playoffs was the first of his young career considering the incredible level of poise he displayed on the league's highest stage.

    Scoring 22 points in one quarter against the Nuggets was eye-opening enough to warrant its own highlight, but Curry's overall postseason package was more impressive than that streak of hot shooting.

    In 12 postseason games (all starts), the Warriors' point guard averaged 23.4 points, 8.1 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game while shooting 43.4 percent from the field and 39.6 percent from three-point land.

    Although he was tested against the mighty San Antonio Spurs in the second round, Curry still managed to notch 44 points and 11 assists in a Game 1 double-overtime loss.

    He played all 58 minutes in the affair, which is just plain sick.

    Whether you're a Warriors fan or not, you have to be excited to see what the 26-year-old has in store this year—well, unless your favorite team has to play him.

2. Triple-Double in 22 Minutes

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    Stephen Curry's ability to influence the outcome of games in a variety of ways is what makes him such a special player. That prowess was on full display against the Phoenix Suns on Dec. 27, 2013.

    In the matchup with the upstart Suns, Curry finished with just 14 points on 5-of-17 shooting (1-of-6 from downtown). That qualifies as a lackluster shooting night for the Davidson product.

    Despite the struggles from the field, however, Curry added 16 assists and 13 rebounds—both career highs—en route to a triple-double in just 22 minutes of action.

    Most NBA players wouldn't sniff triple-double numbers even if they played more than 40 minutes per game on a nightly basis. Curry managed to post a convincing trip-dub in nearly half that time.

1. Career-High 54 Points at MSG

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    In a matchup with the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 27, 2013—back when the Knicks were actually good—Curry erupted for a career-high 54 points.

    The sweet-shooting guard appeared as if he were shooting basketballs into a swimming pool. He played all 48 minutes, finishing 18-of-28 from the floor, 11-of-13 from three-point range and 7-of-7 from the free-throw line.

    Curry also added seven assists, six rebounds and three steals. Despite his otherworldly performance, Golden State actually lost the game, 109-105.

    Curry is a class act who would prefer a win over individual accolades, but that shouldn't override a transcendent performance from one of the best shooters the league has ever seen. In fact, if you ask Oklahoma City Thunder shooting guard Kevin Durant, Curry is the "best shooter to ever play."

    While that designation is certainly up for debate, Curry has continued to entertain fans, win games and stay healthy.

    Perhaps the NBA community will witness something special on his 26th birthday against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    In any case, I think I speak for all fans by wishing the All-Star point guard a happy birthday.