Frail ankles, porous defense and an inability to finish at the rim are all criticisms that have dogged Stephen Curry throughout his NBA career. The Golden State Warriors star halted his detractors once and for all in 2014-15 and was named the league's Most Valuable Player for his troubles, the NBA announced Monday morning.
GSWStats provided the voting results:
The trophy presentation is expected to come on Tuesday before Game 2 against the Memphis Grizzlies, according to the The Associated Press (via ABC7News.com).
Spears put in perspective just how rare this is for the Warriors franchise:
Curry, 27, beat out Houston Rockets guard James Harden, Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis and Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul.
Perhaps the NBA's most skilled shooter, Curry broke his own NBA record for three-pointers in a season (286) en route to averaging 23.8 points and 7.7 assists per game. The Warriors also won a franchise-record 67 games, blitzing a competitive Western Conference with one of the best point differentials in league history.
"He's our MVP," fellow Splash Brother Klay Thompson said in April, per Sekou Smith of NBA.com, "and he should be for the league because he does it on a nightly basis and he's at his best at crunch time."
Perhaps the most amazing aspect of Curry's season is this: Despite the Warriors' gaudy point differential, they were somehow outscored during the minutes Curry spent on the bench. In the 2,615 minutes he spent on the floor, Golden State outscored its opponents by 16.6 points per 100 possessions; in the 1,331 minutes he was on the bench, that point differential flipped to minus-1.2.
While impressive on/off numbers are nothing new for Curry—for years now, the Warriors offense has tended to fall off whenever he sits—the big difference has come on the defensive end. Formerly a sieve who had to be hidden on most nights, Curry gained the trust of head coach Steve Kerr this year to defend opposing point guards.
The trust paid off, with Curry setting a career high in defensive win shares and generally evolving into an average all-around defender.
"He has become a much smarter defender," teammate Draymond Green told Sam Amick of USA Today. "He gets a lot more deflections. He pressures the ball a lot more than he ever has. He comes up with steals, and they're not just playing-the-passing-lane steals. It's getting a deflection, it's taking the big, it's all those things. He's just been phenomenal, man."
Curry's all-around transformation and the Warriors' historic regular season helped give him the nod over Harden, who was at times a one-man army in Houston. Injuries to Dwight Howard, Terrence Jones, Patrick Beverley and others left Harden, Trevor Ariza and Donatas Motiejunas as the only constants in the Rockets' starting lineup. Mixing his truly unique offensive game and his own improvement defensively, Harden somehow coaxed 56 wins and a No. 2 seed out of a team that played Jason Terry 20 minutes per night.
The individual performances of Harden and Curry are similar, but the Warriors' jump from very good to transcendent in the regular season helped clinch it for their star. Now, let's see if he can keep it going.
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