At first of the 2021-22 season, because the NBA kicked off its seventy fifth anniversary celebration, USA TODAY Sports ranked the best 75 players of all-time.
Golden State star Steph Curry was No. 15.
After this season, by which Curry punctuated it together with his fourth championship and first Finals MVP, how far up on the list does he move?
Ahead of Jerry West (No. 14), Kevin Durant (No. 13), Hakeem Olajuwon (No. 12), Oscar Robertson (No. 11) or Shaquille O’Neal (No. 10)? Putting him ahead of Durant will set off heated debates, and maybe a response from Durant on social media.
Does Curry move into the highest 10 after that Finals performance? The Finals MVP counts for something since some viewed that as a “hole” on his resume.
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Against Boston in six games, Curry averaged 31.2 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals and shot 48.2% from the sphere and 43.7% on 3-pointers – only a tad higher than the 27.4/5.2/5.9/1.3/45.9%/39.7% he averaged in 22 playoff games this postseason.
The NBA Finals MVP trophy may need been the one thing missing from Stephen Curry’s resume.
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The 6-foot-2 Curry is now 21-13 in Finals games at 27 points, six assists, 5.8 rebound and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 43.2% from the sphere, 39.5% on 3s and 91.7% on free throws. He’s No. 12 on the all-time Finals scoring list and No. 10 in Finals points per game.
In the course of the regular season, Curry jumped from 76th on the all-time scoring list to 51st, and if he has an identical season in 2022-23, he’ll flirt with moving into the highest 40, near Larry Bird, Gary Payton and Clyde Drexler.
He also passed Ray Allen because the NBA’s all-time leader in 3-pointers made this season. Give him a couple of more seasons, and it’s going to take a shooter higher than Curry to interrupt it someday.
Curry, 34, added to his all-time lead in playoff 3s (561) and Finals 3s (152) – two more records that may stand for a while. His 31 3s against Boston are probably the most in six-game Finals series, breaking his previous record of 25 3s in 2015 against Cleveland.
The talk about who’s the best of all time or if Player A is best than Player B is difficult for a lot of reasons – different eras, styles and rules amongst them.
Of the 15 current or former USA TODAY staffers who ranked NBA players 1-75, only sports columnist Nancy Armour had Curry in the highest 10 before the season began. She said she “put a variety of weight right into a player’s role within the evolution of the sport” and “what form of impact they’d getting the sport to where it’s today.”
But Curry’s shooting and range of his shooting modified how the sport is played. That can’t be said about many players.
After the Warriors won the title in Game 6, Curry’s longtime teammate, Andre Iguodala, called Curry one of the best point guard of all-time. Debatable but not far-fetched.
“What he does at his size,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said, “is so different from the standard greats on this league.”
He has built a Top-10 resume: 4 championships, one Finals MVP and two regular-season MVPs, multiple 3-point records that won’t be broken for some time and certainly one of the best shooters of all-time.
If he’s not top 10 now, he will likely be there by the point his profession is over.
This text originally appeared on USA TODAY: Steph Curry, an NBA Top-10 all-time great? It is time to give it some thought