Stephen Curry is the most exciting player in the NBA, and if he keeps going like this, it won’t even be close. LeBron James’s the best, Paul George’s the fastest rising and Blake Griffin’s the man who jumps over cars. But, the little guy in Oakland with unlimited range is still the most exhilarating to watch nightly.
The Warriors came back from 18 points down at the start of the fourth quarter to beat the Raptors. It was Curry who put the team on his back in the fourth, tossing in 14 points in the the quarter, including three three-pointers, to go with five assists in the period. But it’s not even the numbers that are what make Steph so exciting, its how he’s putting these buckets up.
Curry is the only player in the league who has the green light to turn down a breakaway lay up, just to run to the three-point line and toss up a shot from there instead, which he does with often success. If he’s in the half court offense, he may throw a few hesitation dribbles at a defender before just stepping back and nailing a jumper while falling out of bounds.
His pump fakes have to be respected, often sending defenders flying into the first row while he simply steps aside and takes an open shot. He has the handles to spin defenders around while they try their damnedest to crowd him and prevent those long range shots. Even when he is forced off the three-point line, he can slither his way into the paint and drop an array of floaters or head fakes to get to the rim.
All of these assets were on display for Steph in the fourth, starting with a stutter-step past Kyle Lowry all the way to the rim for an layup and a foul that cut the lead to five. Then as he banged home two straight threes, which turned a four point deficit into a two point lead. The latter was after a pump fake that sent Steve Novak flying and gave the Warriors their first lead since the score was 4-2. The former, over Rudy Gay, was so good it was silly, as Steph stepped back and tossed up what looked to be a prayer, until you realized it was Steph and it had to be going in.
Curry wasn’t alone in the three-point assault though, as his brother-in-splash Klay Thompson added four triples of his own in the fourth. The Warriors as a whole ended the game on a 64-28 run, and not only erased a 27-point second half deficit, but eventually won by nine.
Curry’s hot shooting has “Steph is on fire” creeping into “Bonds/McGwire/Sosa are at bat” range because watching him toss up, and nail contested threes with reckless abandon is unlike anything else going on in basketball, and sports period, today. Unless Game 6 in Boston LeBron shows up, this is as exciting as basketball is going to get for a long while, and that’s perfectly fine.