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Friday, September 24th, 2010 at 8:00 am  |  52 responses

Top 50: Stephen Curry, no. 35

The definitive ranking of the NBA’s best players.

by Branden Peters / @KUHVET

If one had to describe Stephen Curry’s game in one word it would be “smooth.” As fundamentally sound as he is playground certified the former Davidson star never seems to be exerting much effort, but looks can be deceiving. Ask anyone who’s ever defended him.

Drafted seventh overall by the Golden State Warriors, Curry came into the League amidst some controversy after teammate Monta Ellis stated that he could not see the two coexisting in the backcourt. Hating guards were not Curry’s only problem, his 6-3, 185-pound frame had pundiStephen Curryts talking the dreaded tweener talk. Apparently torching the Southern Conference for three years straight and leading Davidson to the Elite 8 in the 2008 NCAA Tourney was not enough.

Instead of letting the comments bother him, Curry instead went out and had a stellar rookie campaign averaging 17.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.9 spg and 4.5 rpg. Curry ranked in the top-five in nearly every statistical category among rookies.

Steph improved his game every month as he got more comfortable with Nellie’s helter skelter offense. The League was taking notice but he truly had his coming out party against the Clippers in February, scoring a triple double in a 30-point route of the Clip Show. It wasn’t just any triple double, though. Steph dropped 36 points to go along with 10 boards and 13 assists. Still not impressed? Those numbers put him in a truly elite class. That night Steph joined Jordan, Elgin Baylor, Jason Kidd and Jerry West as the only rookies in NBA history to earn a triple double while scoring at least 35 points.

Oh yeah, he also earned Western Conference Rookie of the Month honors twice (January and March) plus Curry averaged 26.4 ppg and 8.1 apg in April to close the season out. That is what you call finishing up strong.

Now the issue is not whether Curry can play with Monta, it is the other way around. Curry’s play and positive attitude (definitely helped by Don Nelson’s co-sign and green light) have boosted him to team leader status. Curry’s teammates respect his game and they actually like him. Fans can catch him tweeting, having dinner and playing pickup games with fellow Ws Jeremy Lin and Reggie Williams.

Though he fell short of winning Rookie of the Year honors Curry’s game is actually more advanced than any other NBA player going into his second season. Curry may not be as exciting as Brandon Jennings or as formidable as Tyreke Evans but neither has his “wet” jumper or floor vision.

Coach K recognized this as well when he cut Evans and kept Curry for the “B team” in this summer’s World Championships. Curry’s numbers were modest at best but he contributed when called upon and he’s part of the first USA team to win the tourney since 1994.

This will probably be the lowest Steph will appear on this list for the next decade. If he continues to improve (and cuts down on the turnovers) expect to see him mentioned alongside the top five PGs in the NBA very soon.

SLAMonline TOP 50 PLAYERS OVERALL RANK POSITION RANK
Player Team Position 2010 2009 2010 2009
Ray Allen Celtics SG 50 36 11 10
Gilbert Arenas Wizards SG 49 34 10 9
Lamar Odom Lakers PF 48 33 14 10
John Wall Wizards PG 47 NR 13 NR
OJ Mayo Grizzlies SG 46 46 9 12
Al Horford Hawks C 45 NR 6 NR
Jason Kidd Mavs PG 44 45 12 10
Joakim Noah Bulls C 43 NR 5 NR
LaMarcus Aldridge Blazers PF 42 39 13 12
David West Hornets PF 41 31 12 8
Monta Ellis Warriors SG 40 NR 8 NR
Andrew Bogut Bucks C 39 NR 4 NR
Yao Ming Rockets C 38 NR 3 NR
Brandon Jennings Bucks PG 37 NR 11 NR
Zach Randolph Grizzlies PF 36 NR 11 NR
Stephen Curry Warriors PG 35 NR 10 NR

Notes
• Rankings are based solely on projected ’10-11 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Jeremy Bauman, Maurice Bobb, Erildas Budraitis, Sean Ceglinsky, Ben Collins, Bryan Crawford, Sandy Dover, Adam Figman, Manny Maduakolam, Eddie Maisonet, Ryne Nelson, Doobie Okon, Ben Osborne, Charles Peach, Branden Peters, Quinn Peterson, David Schnur, Todd Spehr, Kyle Stack, Adam Sweeney, Dennis Tarwood, Tracy Weissenberg, Lang Whitaker, Eric Woodyard, and Nima Zarrabi.
• Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.

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  • Ken

    Thing about his stats from last year, is that he became a monster in the second half of the season, so his first half stats really skew him low. He’s super fun to watch too, can’t wait to see his sophomore effort.

  • Twon

    Nice spot for him.

  • JTaylor21

    Dude got some serious game and should put up about 20/5/7/47FG% this season. Of course he’s not better than ZBo but he has to deal with less offensive threats needing shots like ZBo plays with. Keep up the good work Curry; you make all them light-skinned brothers PROUD, y’all taught I was joking when I said that light-skinned dudes taking over.

  • http://Slamonline.com Bryan Crawford

    Excellent photo. That’s how you execute a step-back jumper.

  • http://twitter.com/on_ray henry

    still looks a lil uncomfortable handling the ball as a lead guard… love his game, wish i could a shot off like he does, second fastest after ray allen

  • http://slamonline.com Maurice Bobb

    I’ve been pulling for this kid since Davidson. I love his smooth J and the way he approaches the game. Kids in his shoes–with former NBA fathers–might normally expect the world to just give everything to them, but this kid works, has the right attitude and made believers out of a lot of people. The “Baby-faced Assassin.” Clap for ‘em…

  • http://www.slamonline.com J

    shout out to The Birdman Chris Andersen.

  • http://google c_cantrell

    like this pick for him.. dude is gna be so impressive this year

  • Riki

    hes great, but a lil too high just like slam got us used to

  • http://slamonline.com/ Ryne Nelson

    Steph Curry has been a SLAMonline god since Davidson, Riki. We Believe.

  • Lz – Cphfinest3

    About right, could even jump around ten spots before the season is over if he keeps improving at last years pace.

  • The Lord of Nsam (formerly known as Fresh Prince)

    OVERRATED! I watched 5/6 games of Team USA during the Worlds and I don’t know why there’s all the noise about this guy.

  • http://slamonline.com Bryan Crawford

    @Nsam: It’s kind of hard to formulate an opinion on him just based off the World Championships. It’s also unfair.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Steph Curry just did something in his Rookie Season Nobody has ever done. +45% from the field +40% from 3 +85% from the FT Line. w/ 6 assists and 4.5 rebounds, those are some ridiculuos numbers. Inflation (Or Warriors brand of basketball) probably has a lot to do with it. But I am happy he is ranked higher then Monta, I cosign that idea.

  • fruizm

    i still like monta’s game better.

  • http://deleted KH10

    his craftiness and J reminds me of Nash, never expected him to be this good, this soon.

  • NicktheQuick

    I watched the Worlds too and Steph was really weak defensively, struggling on pick and roll defense and generally staying in front of his man and also a little slow on rotations. He shot the ball decently, not quite how he shoots when he’s a focal point on the Warriors but not Danny Granger terrible either. Most rookies struggle defensively too their first year then begin to adjust. He’ll be fine. Good spot for him.

  • kris

    Haha, whats up with the misleading paragraph. “Coach K recognized this as well when he cut Evans and kept Curry…” Ummm, Evans was Cut because he got hurt the 1st practice and missed the first week of practice and scrimmages before the 1st cut. Dont act like Tyreke’s basketball skill had anything to do with it. Curry never even saw the floor anyway.

  • LakeShow

    didnt like him in college. love him now

  • luv2ball

    Does his J ever touch the rim?

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    What’s amazing is that the biggest question about him coming out was whether he could pass. Tells you something about scouts, no?
    And I really love how many young guards in the league have that Tony Parker floater in their arsenal. Jennings, Rose, Steph, they all use it well, which is great for the game.

  • luv2ball

    Steph has a very Euro game, when he gets some strenght, he will be ok.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    Jason Kidd scored 35 points as a rookie???

  • onlyclipsfanonslam

    I actually think he is a better player NOW than Tyreke Evans. Right now Reke is pretty limited, although he does one thing extremely well in driving right and only finishing with his right hand. Still, the league has some great young players right now, a beautiful time to be a fan.

  • http://kuhvet.com TheWorldFamousBP

    @nbk Granted the GSW does play an offense friendly style of ball but the feat is still a big deal. A lot of good players have been drafted by the W’s and didnt put up the numbers, Spreewell, C Webb, Hardaway, Gilbert, Monta, etc.

  • dar

    Nick Van Exel 2.0

  • larrylegend

    @Enigmatic:
    http://www.basketball-reference.com/boxscores/199504110HOU.html
    yep, what a game this was….
    interesting putting curry over jennings, but not bad.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    I pointed out the feat because it is a big deal, why would I say something about it if I didn’t think it mattered? C Webb’s rookie year 17.1 Points 9.5 Reb 3.6 Assits 1.2 Stls 2.2 Blks (those are ridiculously good numbers for a rookie) Tim Hardaway 14 Pts 9 Assts 4 Rebs 2 Stls (those are ridiculously good numbers for a rookie)Latrell Sprewell 15 Points 4Assts 3Reb 1.5 steals (those are ridiculously good numbers for a rookie – especially one picked 24th)

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    And Gilbert Arenas and Monta Ellis were both picked in the 2nd round so IDK how that is even a comparison….but both still over achieved

  • FEARtheDEER

    you are ridiculous

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    NBK
    Look at what Hardaway did in year two. I referenced it in my post on point guards, but damn.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Allen

    Dood sure was ridiculous. Chris Paul puttin up numbers like that and people are talking about how he’s the best PG since Magic/Stockton. But if it weren’t for injuries and those last 4 years in Miami his career numbers would be right around there

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Exactly. Granted, you have to account for the Nelson stat stuffing, but he was playing with two straight gunners in Richmond and Mullin. Tim was straight nasty.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    I’ve been getting guards i play with to watch and try and practice that two-step. one of them is gettin a good hang of it, dropped a dood on his rump in an open gym the other day. i was like a proud parent watching flashbacks of a childhood memory

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    i play with/help/coach*

  • http://thephotoriot.com davidR

    monta and curry can coexist. these two will torch opposing backcourts

  • j

    Quick question, and I’m being perfectly serious, why is he better than Collison? I watched more nola games than golden state games, but did he really have better numbers or wins/ losses than Darren? Somebody please make the argument for me. It’s not that I’m not willing to believe it’s true, it’s just that I am not convinced of it.

  • Red

    Curry should be higher! GO WARRIORS!

  • Andre Pruitt

    Has anyone noticed that not ONE small forward has come off the board?

  • http://thephotoriot.com davidR

    j,
    that’s an interesting observation. but i’m on the other side of your situation — i watched way more golden state games than nola games, so i can’t really comment about darren. for sure, darren doesnt have the charm that steph has, therefore he gets less attention. if i’m not mistaken, steph is more of an offensive threat because his shot is wet all the way to the 3pt line. also, steph was able to steer the warrior ship despite all their injuries and roster changes throughout the year (which includes a ton of d-league players).
    the thing is, darren wasn’t given a full chance to run a team last season. when cp3 went down, he kept them competitive, and was ballin fersure. but it’s hard to really compare steph & darren’s seasons because they weren’t exactly on equal terms. now that darren is running the show for the pacers however, we’ll get to see how good he really is, and from there can we debate who between the two is better.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Good point j. I have a feeling Darren Collison is going to prove that he’s better than Stephen Curry and possibly Brandon Jennings.

  • http://hoopistani.blogspot.com hoopistani

    Stephen Curry’s ceiling is to be as good as Ray Allen. But I think he will settle around to becoming more like the next Rip

  • PlanetAsia14

    Good place for him to be in, I like it.

  • Kelley

    Reply: The Lord of Nsam (formerly known as Fresh Prince)=Okay, well so what if you watched only a few games of the World Championships of Curry. You should probably know that the World Championships consist of the BEST players in the world. Curry was only a rookie at the time. So I don’t know why you have to compare Stephen with the competition he had in the World Cup. Look at the games from Davidson, or the Warriors. That’ll probably help you out.
    Sorry if I’m being mean or anything, I just wanted to point that out.

  • Kelley

    sorry, i meant to say world championship, not world cup ^^

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