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Wednesday, October 16th, 2013 at 12:00 pm  |  108 responses

Top 50: Stephen Curry, no. 10

The best shooter in the NBA is primed for a monster season.

by Branden J. Peters / @brandenlsk

The latest SLAM cover subject, Stephen Curry, has Russell Westbrook’s bum knee to thank for being voted a top-10 NBA player for the first time in his short career. Originally SLAM writers had him ranked 11th. Not a big jump, but a big deal nonetheless. No one is walking around bragging about being top-11 anything, right?

The mark of the truly great is showing up in the Playoffs. Curry increased career-best points and assists averages in the Playoffs to 23.4 and 8.1, respectively, in what was for many, his coming out party. There is no reason he shouldn’t continue tearing up the League for the foreseeable future.

The Warriors, and especially Curry, will not sneak up on any teams this season. They aren’t quite the hunted, but no one wants to be on the other end of another 54-point outburst. Curry should be ready for the challenge—the summer of 2013 was the first time since 2010 that he’s been healthy in the offseason. No ankle surgery means more time to work on his game.

Despite what seems to be constant injury scares, Curry has become a star for two reasons: his ocean wet jumper and the ascendance of his Golden State Warriors squad from perennial lottery team to legit challengers in the West. He’s arguably the first bonafide star the Warriors have had on the roster since the Run-TMC days (Monta Ellis does not count), yet most hoops fans east of the Mississippi have no idea just how good he really is. Chalk it up to 10:30 p.m. EST start times or basketball narcolepsy, but either way, his overall game is hella slept on.

First off, his handle is one of the sickest in the League (ask Gary Neal). It is not lightening quick, but it’s tricky and elusive. Plus the fact that he can rise up and hit off the dribble from just about anywhere beyond half court keeps defenders on their toes and makes his yo-yo-like handle extremely effective.

Secondly, Curry’s passing skills are vastly underrated. He had a career high last season with nearly 7 assists per game (6.9 assists per game is nothing to sneeze at, especially considering that he regularly played the off-guard when he and Jarrett Jack were on the floor together). Add to that, Curry’s ability to maintain his dribble and spot the open man keeps his teammates working to get open. This makes him a dangerous passer, particularly when plays break down.

The best shooter in the NBA does need to improve on the other end of the floor. For the first 25-30 games of the ’12-13 season, Curry’s D was pretty good. As the season wore on, it dwindled dramatically, possibly due to fatigue. He played over 38 minutes per game last season. Those minutes will most likely decrease as coach Mark Jackson tries to preserve his ankles. Adding Andre Iguodala also gives the team an extra ball-handler, which is more reason Curry should be fresher as the season goes on.

Curry has something else no other Warriors player has had in recent memory. He’s got that killer in him. That thing you can’t teach. That thing that y’all said LeBron didn’t have until he won back-to-back Championships. Curry is fiercely competitive. The look on his face and body language on the court screams “I hate to lose!”

Though they possess talent at every position and have a deep bench, the Warriors are going only as far as Stephen Curry takes them. The team leader has a new shoe contract, his kid brother in tow (ain’t nepotism beautiful) and the basketball world watching. It’s up to him to prove that last year’s semifinals run was no fluke. If he’s able to stay healthy, his inclusion in the top-5 PG discussion won’t be arguable, it’ll be a given.

Where should Stephen Curry rank in the SLAM Top 50?

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SLAMonline Top 50 Players 2013
Rank Player Team Position Pos. Rank
50 Monta Ellis Mavs SG 5
49 Luol Deng Bulls SF 10
48 Ricky Rubio TWolves PG 14
47 Greg Monroe Pistons PF 12
46 Kawhi Leonard Spurs SF 9
45 Mike Conley Grizzlies PG 13
44 Al Jefferson Bobcats C 9
43 David Lee Warriors PF 11
42 Jrue Holiday Pelicans PG 12
41 Anthony Davis Pelicans PF 10
40 Joe Johnson Nets SG 4
39 Serge Ibaka Thunder PF 9
38 Kevin Garnett Nets PF 8
37 Rudy Gay Raptors SF 8
36 Paul Pierce Nets SF 7
35 Ty Lawson Nuggets PG 11
34 Pau Gasol Lakers PF 7
33 Al Horford Hawks C 8
32 Andre Iguodala Warriors SF 6
31 Brook Lopez Nets C 7
30 Zach Randolph Grizzlies PF 6
29 DeMarcus Cousins Kings C 6
28 Damian Lillard Blazers PG 10
27 Josh Smith Hawks SF 5
26 Joakim Noah Bulls C 5
25 Roy Hibbert Pacers C 4
24 John Wall Wizards PG 9
23 Chris Bosh Heat C 3
22 Tim Duncan Spurs PF 5
21 Dirk Nowitzki Mavs PF 4
20 LaMarcus Aldridge Blazers PF 3
19 Rajon Rondo Celtics PG 8
18 Marc Gasol Grizzlies C 2
17 Blake Griffin Clippers PF 2
16 Deron Williams Nets PG 7
15 Kevin Love TWolves PF 1
14 Dwyane Wade Heat SG 3
13 Paul George Pacers SF 4
12 Russell Westbrook Thunder PG 6
11 Tony Parker Spurs PG 5
10 Stephen Curry Warriors PG 4

Rankings are based on expected contribution in ’13-14—to players’ team, the League and the game.

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  • LLC#12

    Too much too soon. I’m still disgruntled over TP’s ranking. And Wade’s. I think Curry is good, really good. I also think Curry is a tad overrated.

  • http://www.cslinsider.com/ DeeHaze24

    Watching him in the playoffs last year it was crazy to think he’s still never been an All-Star. That will change if he’s healthy this year, but I think he’s got tons to prove in terms of being a legit top 10 player in the NBA

  • shockexchange

    Curry is a “placeholder” here, given that Rondo, Westbrook and Black Rick Flair have suffered from injuries. He’s definitely a top 15 player. In the Shock Exchange’s opinion, If Curry stays healthy and he and the Warriors do damage in the playoffs again this season, he’s top 10 regardless of what anybody else does.

  • Dundler

    His offense was simply unreal. Is there anyone else who’s a legitimate threat to score as soon as they cross half-court? It was like a movie, he could have been scoring before you’ve even realised.
    Glad his passing and handle were mentioned, they are underated. I don’t think anybody thought Curry would act be this good. Wonder whether he will keep it or was it just insane streak in the playoffs…

  • Saleem Rainman

    One of my favourite players by far

  • ChosenOne

    One thing I’m pretty much sure of: Steph Curry will break Kobe ‘s record for three pointers made in a game. The guy has unreal range.

  • i_ball

    Steph Curry is the man. One of my favorite players to watch. I had the chance of watching him live at the FIBA World Championship in Turkey. Sick handles, sick passing and courtvision, out of this world shooting – a complete offensive player!

    SLAM come on! It’s ridiculous to have Kobe so high on the list and even Kyrie. The Lakers and Cavs will be irrelevant this season. I know both can make the playoffs but that doesn’t make them relevant – last years Bucks are a good example. Enough has been said about Kobe.

    But Kyrie is getting to much love on this list. He should be in the John Wall category – a very good young player who has a lot to prove. What makes SLAM think that Kyrie will have such a good season (he is at least 15 spots ahead of Wall). I just don’t get it…

  • Dundler

    Yeah I could see that

  • Omar

    I love Kyrie but he shouldn’t be higher than Curry. I love Curry but he should be higher than Westbrook. Neither of them should be higher than Westbrook because neither are as good and just as or more injury-prone as he is.

  • Dundler

    Westbrook= Literally the opposite of injury-prone

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Player A: Career 644-made 3pt FG – .446%
    Player B: Career 726-made 3pt FG – .454%

    Name Them?

  • Dundler

    Kerr and Curry?

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    yep.
    A) is Steph Curry…….in 4 years
    B) is Steve Kerr……….in 15 years

  • star

    that 54 point outburst is still cray cray to watch

  • GT

    Kyrie is WAY better than John Wall. Wall is an abysmal shooter. People need to remember, these lists are about PROJECTION this year. Kyrie Irving is about to break out in his 3rd year, similar to how Rose did. Curry is not going to have a better year than him.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk
  • Dagger

    Impressive. Although: to reach his full potential as a scorer, he needs to get better inside.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk
  • i_ball

    And what about defense and team success – I doubt the Cavs will do as good as the Bulls did it Rose’s third season.

  • TR

    Best shooter of all time

  • LakeShow

    Curry is on his way to being the greatest shooter of all time. (Duh right?)

    I also think that his record will quickly be erased.

    Shooters are important at every position now. 7 footers that can’t rebound or defend, but can shoot the hell outta the 3 ball, there’s a spot for them now(cough Channing Frye, Ryan Anderson).

    Point Guards are on the rise and are becoming more shoot first. I think that Miller, and Allen will have their records beat allot sooner, per age, then when they made the records initially, and I don’t think the new ones set will last too long.

  • ChosenOne

    He already has the record for most threes made in a season. He will probably pass Ray and Reggie soon enough in the all time made threes. He could realistically surpass them before he turns 29. (I think)

  • i_ball

    Kyrie is a better shooter, Wall is a better defender. You can have an argument for both.

    To me even though the Cavs have a slightly better roster imo both teams will finish around .500 which means that Wall and Kyrie are on the same level with Wall even being slightly better

  • TR

    I think Ray’s record is safe for a while when you consider Currys health issues and the fact that Ray Allen is still playing, but Curry is on pace to pass him eventually right now.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    nah, i did the math. He’s on pace to pass them by year 12 if he keeps making 250+ every year. which is still insane, but he’s a waaaaaaaaayyyyyyys off.

  • Omar

    That’s what I meant. I phrased it wrong though.

  • LakeShow

    We should start calling him the Saffron Kid. Or Spicy Curry.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    yeah, Curry is on pace to catch them by year 12…….

  • LP @ThisisEther

    Define black ric flair.

  • i_ball

    Dwayne Wade ;)

  • danpowers

    given his ankles allow him to

  • chingy

    They did the Rudy Gay shot chart…not a single red LOL

  • swill

    check that math again.

    in 4 seasons, steph has made 644 threes. let’s be (very) optimistic and say he averages 220 per season for the next 10 years. that puts him at 2844. still 13 fewer than ray, who will likely have 3,000 before he hangs ‘em up.

  • Saleem Rainman

    Kyrie Irvings spot on this list is gonna be criminal.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    of course.

  • http://twitter.com/niQknacks niQ

    Or Curry in a Hurry.

  • davidR

    one can argue baron was the first star since run tmc. he def should’ve been an allstar the year after he led them to the playoffs, but oh well.

    i don’t think anyone expected curry to get this good when he was originally drafted. we’ll see how far he can take this squad. the future is def bright in the bay

  • elrodeo12

    i dont believe they rank Mike Conley outside the top ten point guards in the league. That is disrespectful

  • davidR

    foreal. nobody saw him ascending this high when he was drafted. the future is bright…. if he can stay healthy

  • davidR

    there’s a huge indian population in the east bay. during indian appreciation night, one would expect like 90% of the gym to rock curry jerseys, but it doesnt happen

  • davidR

    does slam still do that contest to give a player nick name?

    what should curry’s nickname be?

  • chingy

    Just for kicks, comparing Kyrie and Steph stats from last year:

    PPG: 22.5 vs 22.9
    Reb: 3.7 vs 4.0
    Assists: 5.9 vs 6.9
    Steals: 1.5 vs 1.6
    TO: 3.2 vs 3.1
    FG%: .452 vs .451
    3FG%: .391 vs .453
    FT%: .855 vs .900

    In pretty much all categories (except FG%, by the slimmest of margins), Steph > Kyrie. Are we expecting Kyrie to make such a bigger jump than Curry this coming year?? Of course, take these stats with a grain of salt cus GSW plays at a much faster pace than the Cavs.

  • http://signup.divinerenergy.com/ Anthony Dixon

    Warriors will be fun to watch. I see A.I helping Curry A LOT this season. IDK about 10th best player because of those ankles.

  • spit hot fiyah

    the article that this came from was awesome btw. goldsberry is a boss

  • http://signup.divinerenergy.com/ Anthony Dixon

    This is off topic but does anyone eat organic ?

  • spit hot fiyah

    spice, so cheesy

  • spit hot fiyah

    and kobe’s is going to be death row

  • LakeShow

    lol, off topic is an understatement.

  • Dundler

    He has to keep adding more too. Its unlikely he shoots as he did last year with more and more defences figuring them out. Depends how much Iggy and Lee can draw attention on offense

  • Sergio

    That is a great read. First of all, Steph is sick. My goodness.

    Also, Kobe shot 703 27+ feets bombs?!? His FG% and 3pt FG% could be much better if only he didnt take those absurd shots so frequently.

  • http://signup.divinerenergy.com/ Anthony Dixon

    lmao true

  • LakeShow

    I try to eat as much organic as possible, btw, but as you know, it’s quite difficult.

  • Caboose

    How f*cking good do you guys think Kobe and Kyrie will be?

  • davidR

    yea, steph still has issues with overly aggressive/physical defenders. he just doesnt have the speed or power to deal with the constant contact, but i’m sure they will figure out how to counter. the fact that bogut and lee are great passers, as well as klay and barnes improving would help shoulder the load

  • http://signup.divinerenergy.com/ Anthony Dixon

    Yea its challenging. I asked because i’m developing an Organic Energy Drink. Just wanted to see if anyone was interested.

    signup.Divinerenergy.com

  • davidR

    uncle drew is going top 8. watch

  • Chester

    This year’s ranking is crazy! Its all based off of potential output so placing kobe over this guy and TP is insane. Kobes not going to be able to contribute the way he has for a while. And Kyrie in the top 10?! Hes good but he aint worthy of the top ten just yet he’s been so injury prone I’d be very suprised if his team even makes the playoffs this year with the team he has tbh, guy does not deserve the top 10

  • Caboose

    In real life or SLAM’s fantasy world?

  • Angel of Stern

    hey caboose, send an invite to mitchrose205@ymail.com if there is an empty spot in that fantasy league you guys got set up.

  • LakeShow

    I’d be interested if the price and convenience were on target.

    I don’t take things for energy any longer because of the noted ill-effect and ease of dependency.

  • Caboose

    Not to mention Wall makes his team better….Wiz were over .500 with Johnny.

  • Matisse

    I wouldn’t be surprised that in a couple of more years it will be common place for players to have a 50% fg average from the three point range.

  • LakeShow

    That’s going a bit far, but I agree that the direction is upward for shooters.

  • Dundler

    He kind of does have speed but kind of doesn’t, but uses his handle in hesitation or fake directions to make up for it. I think the Warriors are still able to be planned against easily, but they sometimes can shoot out of it, IE against the Spurs (nearly)

  • Dundler

    Shall we take guesses now on the number of comments for Kobe?

  • Dundler

    I bet if you asked most people which one of the two averaged a full assist more than the other they’d mostly say Kyrie

  • LakeShow

    That’s an awesome graph, thanks.

  • LakeShow

    Most people are idiots.

    Or as George Carlin so eloquently put it. “think about the average person, now think about the fact that half the planet is more stupid than they are…”

    Ahhh the sweet truths of GC.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Definitely. What he does is really awesome

  • Najee Fareed

    wow kyrie in the top ten…. has derrick rose earned his right to be ranked above steph and Kobe better not fall behind Dwight under any circumstance. His dimunitive play in the playoffs should make me not need to explain.

  • hubertdavisfor3

    I’m a big fan of curry’s, and he definitely gets underrated by some who don’t realize he has great PG skills outside of being an elite shooter. That said, it’s really a slap in the face to rank him over parker. Parker took his game to new heights over the last few seasons, and he was a legit MVP candidate last season. He’s extremely crafty on the drive, his decision making is elite, and while he has a great mid range game, he can also step out and hit the 3 if needed. blah blah blah the mid range game is weak blah blah blah. Well, 2 points is still 2 points when you need a bucket to win the game, and parker can get it done.

  • Paul Headley

    Kobe just came in at 25 on espns list. Im sure that will go quietly.

  • BugEyes

    Schwooo

  • http://signup.divinerenergy.com/ Anthony Dixon

    Cool. I don’t intend for it to be something like the the normal energy drink. I want to make it where it all organic with certain supplements in like Omega 3s and stuff like that.

  • AddingVelocityDontTellMe

    @disqus_rOeXXBD2qs:disqus why when your you make threes like layups who needs layups. if the defense guards him at the three then he needs to work on making threes further away. Its possible if jesse dunn can do it which means that we assume jesse dunn exists. joshing joshing

  • The Fury

    OKAY, what if GS and Cleveland doesn’t make the playoffs this season, would Steph and Kyrie be out of the Top 10 in next year’s Top 50? Still can’t believe they see Kyrie better than Parker AND Westbrook. Kid’s really good, but the hype that SLAM put into players is too much sometimes.

  • Caboose

    That’s nuts.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk
  • spit hot fiyah

    308

  • Kim Hargreaves

    Nice write up that actually describes why a player deserves their ranking and what makes their game so good. Slightly too high for my liking but he was a top 5 player last postseason.

  • i_ball

    The Warriors btw got a bit lucky with Curry’s ankles – imagine if last season was his contract year! He got less money than Ty Lawson.

  • i_ball
  • swill

    *kobe AND donyell marshall’s record for three pointers made in a game.

  • Harlem_World

    But he’s Kobe Bryant. He has to shoot those absurd shots to validate being Kobe Bryant…In his mind, at least.

  • Mike Gilbert

    I’ll have a hard time if Kyrie is ranked better than D-Rose

  • Max

    Off-topic here but daaaaaammn the new 2K next gen trailer looks sick!
    And if SLAM wouldn’t post it.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJlptY6G4SQ

  • Caboose

    I’m not sold on Rose.

  • Mike Gilbert

    send me free stuff please

  • Max

    lol I’ve never even tought of that haha

  • Max

    And Steph’s defense > Kyrie’s.

  • Max

    424
    You keep track.

  • http://signup.divinerenergy.com/ Anthony Dixon
  • Super Splash Bros

    Lordy, 40% from three is where Steph “isn’t as good” haha. Does he have the highest 3pt% for a certain frequency?

  • chingy

    I had been a bit low on Steph Curry on these rankings (even tho he’s probably one of my top 5 fav players) simply because I thought people were hyping him too much from the playoff run they had last year. But the more I think about it, the more it seems like he should be a top 10 player. Definitely more so than Kyrie….

  • Palmira Sawyer

    Hey people, get the perfect xmas gift – UGG BOOTS! NICEUGGS.COM

  • Mike Gilbert

    don’t think e’ll be fully healthy? Don’t think his athleticism will be the same?

  • Caboose

    And people are REALLY rewriting history with how good he was. The season he got injured, he was putting up 22-3-8 on 43% shooting, not his MVP numbers. While those are good, THOSE should be taken as his baseline for return, not the 26-4-9 that people seem to think he consistently did. With the 22-3-8 baseline, I think he’ll have difficulty getting back to there immediately. For me, I expect something like 21-3-7 in about 60 games. Awesome stats, but more in the 10-15 range. Not top 5.

  • Mike Gilbert

    that was an injury riddled season where he only played 40 games. Why would you use that to judge him rather than the season before when he was healthy?

  • Caboose

    Because why won’t he continue to be injury riddled? I have no evidence to believe he’ll pop back healthy.

  • Caboose

    267

  • RedDragon10

    Love curry and Kyrie. But I cannot put them in the top 10; way too early.

  • Cortez Mack

    ” It is not lightening quick”

    Yes, it is.

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  • Eastside BP

    Baron wasn’t a star. The We Believe team got all the hype as a unit. I guess a better way to put it would have been that Curry is the 1st individual Warriors player to excite the league since Run-TMC.

    Some people saw the potential from the jump. I am not one of them.

  • Eastside BP

    I have no beef with Kyrie, I think he’s gonna be a good player but I can’t crown the guy until he plays a meaningful game. When you have the green light on a team that’s a thousand games below .500, there is not much pressure.

  • Acabi

    Too high with those ankles

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