For nearly a decade, Stephen Curry has been the heart and soul of the Golden State Warriors, bringing the team three championships in five years. His 3-point shooting revolutionized basketball as we know it, to the point that 10 NBA players make more threes per game this season than teams made back in the 1985-1986 NBA season. Yet while his scoring exploits have become the norm in the NBA, his most recent 53-point outburst against the Denver Nuggets had larger implications to his Hall of Fame career.
After scoring on a layup with 1:40 left in the first quarter, Curry moved past the legendary Wilt Chamberlain to become the Warriors’ all-time franchise leader in points scored.
The achievement naturally overshadowed the fact that the Nuggets had no answers for Curry defensively. In the 116-107 win, he made 10 threes for the third time this season and went to the free-throw line 16 times, making 15 of his attempts.
His 53-point performance was also the third time he breached the 50-point mark this season and the highest since his 57 points (on 11 3-pointers) against the Dallas Mavericks last February 6. However, that wasn’t even his season (nor career) high, as he dropped 62 points against the Portland Trail Blazers in a 137-122 win.
Curry is currently averaging 30.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, and 1.3 steals through 46 games and leads the league in 3-point makes with 4.8 per game. The points and rebounds are career highs, with the former eclipsing his unanimous (and back-to-back) MVP year scoring average of 30.1. His shooting splits this year (.486 FG%, .416 3FG%, and .924 FT%) are hovering around the exclusive 50-40-90 club (which he already joined back in 2016).
Golden State’s 26-28 win-loss record currently puts them at 10th place in the loaded Western Conference, one game behind the San Antonio Spurs and two games behind the Memphis Grizzlies. The format for the 2021 NBA postseason gives them a shot at the playoffs even if they are unable to move higher in the standings at season’s end. Should the Warriors require two straight wins just to get past the play-in, the right circumstances and a signature Curry game could be enough to let them barge into the postseason.
Aside from becoming the franchise leader in points scored, Curry holds Golden State’s all-time record in threes made and attempted, assists, free throw percentage, and even turnovers. He also has the team record of both 3-pointers made and attempted in a single season to his name. Curry actually held the record for the most 3-pointers made in a game back in 2016 thanks to 13 threes against the New Orleans Pelicans until his backcourt mate Klay Thompson knocked down 14 3-pointers two years later against the Chicago Bulls.
The next record that he will likely pass would be the NBA’s three-pointers made all time, which is currently held by Ray Allen. As of this writing, Curry is 254 threes away from surpassing Allen and given his current pace (and barring any major injuries) he will likely do so next season.
For all the Twitter wars and debates among pundits, we have to continue to appreciate Curry’s greatness and how he has helped usher in this faster and trigger-happy NBA. He isn’t getting any younger at 33 and while it is blasphemous to think of Golden State trading the seven-time all-star in the near future, the fluidity of player movement will always make this a possibility, albeit unfortunate.
Nevertheless, Stephen Curry’s legacy remains secure and he’s a sure fire first-ballot Hall of Famer when he retires. Him etching his name into the record books of both the NBA and the Warriors merely seems like a cherry on top for the person that many, if not all, say is the greatest shooter of all time.