Is it finally the right time to move Steph Curry onto NBA's Top-10 players of all-time list?
At the start of the 2021-22 season, as the NBA kicked off its 75th anniversary celebration, USA TODAY Sports ranked the greatest 75 players of all-time.
Golden State star Steph Curry was No. 15.
After this season, in which Curry punctuated it with his fourth championship and first Finals MVP, how far up on the list does he move?
Ahead of Jerry West (No. 14), Kevin Durant (No. 13), Hakeem Olajuwon (No. 12), Oscar Robertson (No. 11) or Shaquille O’Neal (No. 10)? Putting him ahead of Durant will set off heated debates, and perhaps a response from Durant on social media.
Does Curry move into the top 10 after that Finals performance? The Finals MVP counts for something since some viewed that as a “hole” on his resume.
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Against Boston in six games, Curry averaged 31.2 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals and shot 48.2% from the field and 43.7% on 3-pointers – just a tad better than the 27.4/5.2/5.9/1.3/45.9%/39.7% he averaged in 22 playoff games this postseason.
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The 6-foot-2 Curry is now 21-13 in Finals games at 27 points, six assists, 5.8 rebound and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 43.2% from the field, 39.5% on 3s and 91.7% on free throws. He is No. 12 on the all-time Finals scoring list and No. 10 in Finals points per game.
During the regular season, Curry jumped from 76th on the all-time scoring list to 51st, and if he has a similar season in 2022-23, he will flirt with moving into the top 40, near Larry Bird, Gary Payton and Clyde Drexler.
He also passed Ray Allen as the NBA’s all-time leader in 3-pointers made this season. Give him a few more seasons, and it’s going to take a shooter better than Curry to break it someday.
Curry, 34, added to his all-time lead in playoff 3s (561) and Finals 3s (152) – two more records that will stand for some time. His 31 3s against Boston are the most in six-game Finals series, breaking his previous record of 25 3s in 2015 against Cleveland.
The debate about who is the greatest of all time or if Player A is better than Player B is difficult for many reasons – different eras, styles and rules among them.
Of the 15 current or former USA TODAY staffers who ranked NBA players 1-75, only sports columnist Nancy Armour had Curry in the top 10 before the season started. She said she “put a lot of weight into a player’s role in the evolution of the game” and “what kind of impact they had getting the game to where it is today.”
But Curry’s shooting and range of his shooting changed how the game is played. That cannot be said about many players.
After the Warriors won the title in Game 6, Curry’s longtime teammate, Andre Iguodala, called Curry the best point guard of all-time. Debatable but not far-fetched.
“What he does at his size,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said, “is so different from the traditional greats in this league.”
He has built a Top-10 resume: four championships, one Finals MVP and two regular-season MVPs, multiple 3-point records that won’t be broken for a while and one of the greatest shooters of all-time.
If he’s not top 10 now, he will be there by the time his career is over.