MVP Talk: Steph’s Slump is Broken

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Updated: December 24, 2021
curry durant

Against a fully healthy Memphis Grizzlies squad in San Francisco, Steph Curry finally came alive and broke out of the slump he has been carrying ever since being in striking distance of the all-time 3-point record. Despite the double teams and physicality of Dillion Brooks draped all over Curry for 4 quarters, Steph carried a Warriors team missing Klay, Wiggins, J-Poole, Wisemen, and Iggy for 46 points on 59% shooting. 57% from distance with 8 bombs from behind the perimeter, it was the first time in quite a while where Curry carried the team through the 4th quarter for a heroic victory. With this new rivalry between the young Grizz and seasoned Dubs stemming from last year’s play-in game, the electric combination between the two franchises would be an epic battle if they were to meet on the biggest stage in the playoffs.

The interesting aspect though with regards to this so-called slump of inefficient shooting by Curry is that it has been accompanied by an array of W’s as the Warriors sit only a half-game back behind the best record in basketball held by the Phoenix Suns who they will see Christmas day. With the narrative of MVP solidified to this comeback Golden State season and their off-ball sniper expected to lead the league in scoring, too often Curry’s individual stats have become the topic of discussion rather than the outcome of a ball game.

It is similar to what is currently happening in Brooklyn, where a cloud of negativity circles around the Nets and their current dismembered roster, and yet they sit at the top of the Eastern Conference. Both Curry and Durant are very aware of how their legacies overlap and collide on the all-time list. Thanks to ESPN and their trolling antics at rankings for public consumption and the manufacturing of conflict, Curry was ranked just behind Hakeem at 13 and his former teammate Kevin Durant was ranked 14th behind him. Both players are aware of how valuable this superficial regular-season award is with regards to legacy, especially for Curry as it would be his 3rd and would be put him in rare air.

Only 8 players have ever achieved such a feat with 3 career MVPs: Russell, Wilt, Kareem, Moses, Bird, Magic, MJ, & Bron. Outside of Moses Malone, all of these names find themselves in the undisputed top 10 all-time list by nearly every analyst or ex-player when asked or written about. With too prideful players in Durant and Curry, they are two students of the game who obviously are aware of the impact a 3rd MVP may hold. The question must be asked, at what cost are these two all-time greats willing to gamble for the stats necessary for this superficial award?

Both players and their coaching staffs have battled with the question of minutes and pushing the limits of the physical tole of what an 82 game season may have on the bodies of two players who have dealt with serious injuries and both on the wrong side of 30. Sure, both the Nets and Warriors need their stars to collect wins, but how much of the MVP discussion is being bled into the need to be the number 1 seed of their conference? Durant has averaged a heavy 37 minutes yet has on more than one occasion pushed his total in games over 40. Curry and Kerr have changed his schedule of minutes throughout a game 3 times now already less than halfway through the season, and have often played him deep into 4th quarters after the game had already been decided to inflate his stats.

With Kyrie Irving being added back into the equation for Brooklyn, and soon Klay Thompson for Golden State, it will be interesting to see which coaching staff and star begin to prioritize the longevity of their Alphas to preserve them for the playoffs. Or, if neither the Dubs nor Nets are willing to sacrifice their MVP chances and we see both KD and Steph continue to log heavy minutes in a race to the top of their conferences. Now, in games where the Warriors and Nets are head-to-head with a contender, we would all love to see these two super-stars play heavy minutes and wrap their fingerprints all over their victories. However, the question more lies in the back to backs in Detroit, Houston, or Orlando, where their teams are still favored by Vegas to collect the W, and yet instead of resting or at the very least minimizing their minutes down to the 30, they use the opportunity to inflate their stats.

The most ironic outcome would be if these two teams matched up in the Finals and yet the MVP of the regular season is the one who caught the L in the 7-game series and had to watch their former teammate collect the Bill Russel trophy and completely negate the regular-season award. It really isn’t the minutes as much as it is the intention. If both players want to log heavy minutes and average over 30, it’s what’s best for the league and the product we all love to consume. But if the main reason these extra minutes are being tallied is to add an additional trophy to the mantel, the cost of such hardware may end up being more than they were ever willing to spend.

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