Stephen Curry Tops Bradley Beal to Lead NBA in Scoring for 2020-21 Season

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVMay 16, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MARCH 15: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors smiles during the game against the Los Angeles Lakers on March 15, 2021 at Chase Center in San Francisco, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry assured himself of the NBA's 2020-21 scoring title during Sunday's game against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Golden State Warriors @warriors

BUCKETS.<br><br>With this basket, @StephenCurry30 has secured the 2020-21 @NBA scoring title πŸ‘ pic.twitter.com/oenaw1PNb5

Curry had nine points in the first quarter, which guaranteed he'll finish ahead of Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal. Beal dropped 25 points in Washington's 115-110 victory over the Charlotte Hornets earlier in the day.

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Steph doing 🐐 things pic.twitter.com/0Ix83QNsga

This has to be considered one of the best seasons of Curry's career given both his age (33) and the general state of the Warriors. Golden State has qualified for the play-in tournament, and it's due in large part to the two-time MVP.

With Klay Thompson ruled out for the year, some wondered how Curry would perform in a somewhat unfamiliar role. Because of the talent he had lining up next to him, he hadn't had to carry the franchise for a prolonged stretch the same way Beal, Damian Lillard, Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James and some other top stars have.

Lillard reflected in January on how opposing defenses could key in on Curry even more since the 2020-21 Warriors have such a thin, top-heavy roster:

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Dame knows Steph has to work harder to get quality looks while playing with a younger team πŸ”Šβ¬†οΈ <br><br>Catch @dwrightway1's full interview with @dame_lillard during Warriors Pregame Live at 4:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area. pic.twitter.com/sAeUH8fLLa

Curry answered the skeptics by averaging 31.8 points entering the final day of the regular season. He was also shooting 48.3 percent from the field and 42.1 percent from beyond the arc.

And those numbers came despite teams regularly throwing multiple defenders at the seven-time All-Star, just as Lillard predicted.

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Steph's MVP case in one picture 🀯 pic.twitter.com/0VKm36i5Ck

That the Warriors will finish eighth or ninth in the Western Conference probably doomed Curry's MVP case. Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic, who has emerged as the runaway favorite, has done more than enough to earn the honor as well.

But Curry's performance has practically transcended the MVP race. It's almost impossible to quantify the feeling of witnessing him break down an opposing defense. Few players are more watchable at their best, and this year has served as a reminder of why fans fell in love with Curry in the first place.

The Warriors face some big questions ahead. Nobody knows what kind of player Thompson will be after having missed two entire seasons. While Draymond Green remains one of the NBA's best defenders, his offensive game continues to regress. James Wiseman had an up-and-down rookie campaign before suffering a torn meniscus.

But Curry's scoring title is the culmination of a year Warriors fans won't soon forget.