The 4 most amazing things from Steph Curry's unanimous MVP season
Steph Curry is the first unanimous MVP in NBA history. Go ahead and close your laptop/turn off your phone and take a walk around the block to think about that statement for a few minutes.
Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, LeBron James, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Tim Duncan and so many other all-time basketball phenomenons who captured our imaginations and stole our hearts could never erase 100 percent of any lingering doubt from every voter's mind about their overwhelming dominance as Curry just did.
Stephen Curry earned all 131 first-place MVP votes, the first unanimous winner in the award's 61-season history. pic.twitter.com/Drmdr0trDZ— WarriorsPR (@WarriorsPR) May 10, 2016
Of course, this doesn't mean Curry is better than any or all of those players. Or that the voters from years past were correct with their admittedly subjective ballots. But what it does mean is that Curry's second straight MVP season is one for the ages. Here's a closer look at four things that help explain why.
Curry's annual improvement is unprecedented. His points per game from last year to this year jumped from 23.8 to 30.1. His PER went from 28.0 to 31.5 (seventh highest in league history). His true shooting percentage went from 63.8 to a league-leading 66.9. And, last but not least, his usage percentage went from 28.9 to 32.6.
What does all this mean? For starters, no reigning MVP has ever done this before. Curry defied human nature. Instead of plateauing off his first breakout year, content with a championship and renown status as the best player on the planet, the guy came back and torched the league with a hotter flame than the sport had ever felt.
As his responsibilities rose, Curry somehow become more efficient. Defenses had a target on his back, and he still nailed some of the most eye-popping shots ever seen. There were double- and triple-teams, team-wide strategies to run him off the three-point line and keep him away from the paint, but he still took fewer midrange shots than last season and saw his accuracy within three feet of the rim rise (to a non-sensical 69.6 percent) alongside his three-point percentage.
Speaking of not human, 402 threes is a lot of threes! It's 116 more than he made last season, which is now only the second-most in NBA history. How big of a gap is that? Well, the threes he made this year vs. the threes he made last year is the same difference between the threes he made last year and the 153rd-most threes in a season (a four-way tie between Robert Covington, Reggie Miller, Baron Davis and Paul George).
To make this feel more ridiculous than it already is, Curry attempted 3.0 threes per game when a defender was within 2 to 4 feet (tight coverage, according to SportVU) and made 40.2 percent of them. For a little perspective, only 12 players in the entire league made more than 40.2 percent of their threes, regardless of whether they were open or contested (minimum three attempts per game).
So, basically, nobody is ever making 400 threes in a season ever again. Unless it's Curry next year.
To help wrap all our heads around this accomplishment, let's first consider that the only players to shoot at least 50 percent from the floor, 40 percent behind the three-point line and 90 percent from the charity stripe (with a respectable number of attempts from each area) for an entire season are Kevin Durant, Larry Bird, Steve Nash, Reggie Miller, Dirk Nowitzki and Mark Price. None of them won a scoring title the same year they joined the club.
Why? Because before Curry came along it was viewed as virtually impossible! Durant came close in 2013, but averaged "only" 28.1 points per game, which was technically fewer than Carmelo Anthony's 28.7. To score a ton of points, it typically means you're taking a ton of bad shots. Bad shots do not exist when discussing Curry's range and repertoire.
No single moment better symbolizes how unbeatable Curry was this season than this shot to take down the Oklahoma City Thunder. How do you stop a player who incorporated 40-footers in his pregame warmup? Answer: prayer.