Day 6

Five ways the NBA's Steph Curry is redefining what's possible in basketball

This week, the Golden State Warriors won their 73rd game, surpassing the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls for the best regular season in NBA history. And much of that credit is owed to MVP Stephen Curry. Sports journalist Ian Levy delivers five ways Steph Curry is defying expectations and changing the game of basketball.
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) battles Dallas Mavericks guard J.J. Barea (5) Friday. (Brandon Wade/The Associated Press)
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The Golden State Warriors have had a colossal season. 

On Wednesday, the Warriors cemented their place in NBA history with an epic 125-104 win over the Memphis Grizzlies. It was their 73rd win of the season — eclipsing the legendary Chicago Bulls' record from 1995-1996 and making the Warriors the NBA's best-ever single season team.

On the court, one player in particular was turning heads: NBA MVP Stephen Curry.

Stephen Curry shoots the ball during the Golden State Warriors' legendary game against the Memphis Grizzlies on April 13, 2016 in Oakland. (Thearon W. Henderson / Stringer (Getty Images))
It's hard to see the ceiling on his potential.- Ian Levy, editor-in-chief of the Hardwood Paroxysm Basketball Network 

Curry has been breaking records at a staggering pace in recent years. And the numbers behind his success are just as striking.

Curry ended the 2015-2016 season with an astounding 402 three-pointers — beating his own previous record of 286 and far surpassing anybody else in the history of the game. He made ten 3s over the course of Wednesday's game alone.

Sports journalist Ian Levy was among those whose jaw hit the floor during Steph Curry's insane performance Wednesday night. He's the editor-in-chief of the Hardwood Paroxysm Basketball Network and a regular contributor to FiveThirtyEight.com. And he's spent many hours crunching the numbers behind Curry's rapid climb to the top of the NBA, as evidenced in articles like this one.

"The effect of Curry's shooting is so large that it improves his team's offense even when he doesn't have the ball." - Ian Levy, editor-in-chief of the Hardwood Paroxysm Basketball Network 

Here are his top five reasons Steph Curry is breaking new ground for the game of basketball this season:

He's the most prolific three-point shooter in NBA history.

The factor by which Curry has broken his own three-point record this season is "equivalent to a major league baseball player hitting over 100 home runs in a season — or an NFL quarterback throwing for 75 or more touchdown passes," says Levy.

Nothing seems to throw him off his game.

Curry's effectiveness as a shooter isn't affected by the factors that typically make a shot difficult — whether a defender is four feet away from him or eight feet away, whether the shot is taken off the dribble or off a pass, he makes 3s at the same rate.

He elevates his whole team's performance.

Just having Curry on the floor makes the Golden State Warriors the most efficient offensive team in the NBA. When he's on the bench, their stats are below league average. "It's even hard to judge the quality of his teammates, because their impact is so elevated by playing along Curry," Levy says.

Even the stats people tend to overlook are impressive.

Not only is Curry a surprisingly good defensive player — he's currently leading the league in steals — he's also one of the most efficient players scoring at the rim this season, in spite of his 6'3" height. As Levy points out, his field goal percentage on shots taken close to the basket is comparable with some of the NBA's tallest players.

He just keeps getting better.

Not only did Curry break the NBA's record for three-pointers this season, he was breaking his own record — set last year. And he beat that record by a staggering 40 per cent. Against the odds, he regularly increases his attempts, without compromising accuracy. "It's hard to see the ceiling on his potential," Levy says.
 

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