The NBA MVP race this year has been turbulent, to say the least. There are a plethora of deserving players this year such as Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokoumpo, Luka Doncic, Damian Lillard, James Harden and others, but there is one name that has consistently gone overlooked. That big name is Stephen Curry, the only player in NBA history that has won a unanimous MVP.
It is important to consider that the NBA MVP award is one dictated by media-perpetrated storylines and narratives, so there is a great deal of subjectivity that goes into the decision. However, if the criteria stayed true to the award’s name in identifying which player actually has the most relative value for their team specifically, Curry has to be given strong MVP consideration.
When determining player value, circumstance and team outcome should be the first factors to be taken into account. The Warriors have more closely resembled an infirmary this season than a basketball team. In the 54 games they have played thus far (26-28), they have had Klay Thompson ruled out for the entirety of the season; they have also had Draymond Green miss 8 games, rookie James Wiseman miss 15 and now be ruled out for the rest of the season, Eric Paschall miss 15, Jordan Poole miss 21 and the list goes on. In fact, the only one of Curry’s teammates that has been there for every game this season is Andrew Wiggins.
The injuries, combined with the lack of capable floor spacing in the starting lineup, have allowed defenses to routinely double and triple the two-time MVP. Kelly Oubre, who was the Golden State Warriors’ biggest acquisition this past offseason, also started the season on a historic cold streak from three-point range. He shot a league worst 21.8% on his first 87 long-range attempts of the season despite averaging 35.2% from three on 5.5 attempts per game last season.
In spite of the lack of complementary shooting prowess on the roster, Curry has managed to keep the team at nearly a .500 record, which would be a fringe playoff team in the East and surely would make the playoffs when going against weaker eastern conference competition. The most telling statistic that isolates Curry’s immense value to the Golden State Warriors is that they rank 13th in offensive efficiency when he is on the floor and are the worst offensive team the league has seen in the past five seasons when he is on the bench. In spite of the added defensive pressure on Curry this season, he is still averaging numbers similar to that of his unanimous MVP season back in 2016. This year, at the time of writing this article, Curry is averaging 31.0 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.9 assists on shot splits of 49.1% from the field, 42.7% from three and 92.2% from the free-throw line. This absurd stat has even been dubbed as an off year for the sniper because of the slow shooting start he had this season by his lofty standards. Juxtapose this season’s averages to his unanimous MVP season, where he put up 30.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 6.7 assists on 50.4% from the field, 45.4% from three and 90.8% from the charity stripe, and you see an almost mirror image in the numbers. The main difference is in shooting efficiency, but that is understandable given the circumstance and Curry has also progressively shot more accurately this season.
Stephen Curry is not just the best player and all-time leading scorer for the Golden State Warriors; he epitomizes everything associated with the success of their franchise. He is the engine that runs the team, the driver of winning basketball culture in the bay area. Even financially, he has been the franchise cornerstone that has helped the Golden State Warriors’ value increase from $450 million dollars when he was drafted in 2009 to $4.3 billion dollars today. Curry is worth every penny of his $40.23 million per year max contract and should undoubtedly be considered for MVP honors this year.