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The Extra Pass Thursday Roundup: Stephen Curry could be greatest shooter ever

Nov 1, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Clippers Getty Images

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How good were Stephen Curry and Chris Paul in the shootout between the Clippers and Warriors last night?

It’s almost impossible to be hyperbolic, both about the performances and the players themselves.

Don’t believe me? Try this one on for size: Stephen Curry is the best shooter of all-time.

You’re squirming, aren’t you? It doesn’t sit right. You’re thinking it can’t possibly be true, not yet, not with every great player that has played this game. You’re running through names in your head right now. Larry Bird? Steve Nash? It can’t be Curry.

But then you look. The records are already falling at his feet. You play with the numbers, look deeper and see that Curry is only one of two players to have a career true shooting percentage over 58 percent, a three-point percentage over 44 percent and a career field-goal percentage over 46 percent. By all the important measures, he’s been elite.

And then you see a guy like Steve Kerr listed right next to Curry on that list. Great shooter, Kerr was. One of the best. But then you remember, there is no Michael Jordan creating for Curry. There are no wide open spot-up threes to feast on. Kerr was shooting fish out of a barrel — Curry can’t even see what he’s aiming at half of the time.

And you know what? Everyone knows what he wants to do. He gets every team’s best defender and the full undivided attention of defenses every night. Coaches say, “Make him put it on the floor. Make anyone else beat us.” And then what? He pulls up from 27 feet with a hand in his face and woosh, there goes the ball through the net, and there goes your gameplan.

There’s nothing in the world like watching someone at the peak of their craft doing what they do best. Basketball just happens to be one of the more enjoyable crafts, and that’s what made Curry’s battle with Paul so enthralling. Different styles make for great fights, and that’s what was happening here.

It was actually Paul who dominated in between the lines, using his quick hands to fluster Curry to no end. The turnovers for Curry piled up quick, and Paul was relentless with his pressure on both ends. But once Curry put the ball in the air? All bets were off.

In typical Paul fashion, though, what could be controlled was controlled. The Warriors threw an underrated defender in Klay Thompson at him. No dice. Then they threw maybe the league’s best defender in Andre Iguodala at him, too, and yet still, Paul’s greatness shined through every crack in the Warriors defense.

Paul was more than beating his man – he was exploiting him. This was John Stockton with a streak for scoring, with the same flair for a well-timed flop, with the same nastiness that allows a 6-foot-1 guy to plant a forearm in the chest of a giant and rather ornery Australian man on a cross-screen.

This was two stars in the prime of their careers turning the other eight players on the court into unintelligible blurs. You watched Paul, and then you watched Curry, and everything else was a distraction. Paul, then Curry. Curry, then Paul. And back and forth it went until it came to a close, all while you were wishing that it didn’t have to stop so soon.

—D.J. Foster

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Bulls 82, Knicks 81: This was a sloppy early season game with a lot of turnovers, missed shots and missed defensive assignments — but it was close at the end and it certainly had plenty of drama. Derrick Rose missed nine of his first 11 shots and was 7-of-23 on the night, but the seventh make was a beautiful floater with five seconds left that won the Bulls the game. So he gets a few things forgiven, like the fact he is 11-of-38, or 28.9 percent, through two games. Carmelo Anthony had 22 points but needed 24 shots to get there and he was awful from the midrange (4-of-14).

Clippers 126, Warriors 115: I now will spend the rest of the season rooting for these two teams to meet in the playoffs — I want seven games between these guys. This was just fun. Chris Paul decided not to let the Clippers lose — 42 points, 15 assists, 6 steels. As long as they have kept the steal stat (1974) nobody has had a stat line like that with 6 steals in a game. Stephen Curry had 38 points and 9 assists, he was 9-of-14 from three. He hit two threes from somewhere on Figueroa Street outside the building.

In the end it was Curry’s 11 turnovers and 24 for the Warriors as a team that did them in — turnovers against the Clippers leads to fast break alley-oops, the Lob City show and a lot of momentum for L.A. But I really just want these teams to meet in the playoffs. Come on basketball gods make it happen.

  1. stoutfiles - Nov 1, 2013 at 8:42 AM

    And yet none of this matters because the NBA is so laughably unbalanced. Call me when the Heat All-Stars are broken up.

    • adamsjohn714 - Nov 1, 2013 at 10:01 AM

      If the Heat were the tipping point for lack of balance, I don’t hold your observational skills in high regard. Try counting the number of titles for the lakers and celtics and you’ll see that the NBA really doesn’t care about parity. It’s always unbalanced.

      • stoutfiles - Nov 1, 2013 at 2:16 PM

        The Heat are the tipping point because the players are able to convince older players to come there for a ring instead of money. While it’s been tried in the past, it’s never been done at such a scale as the Heat. the Heat’s B-team is better then most people’s teams.

        Take the Milwaukee Bucks for instance. What’s the point of rooting for this team? You’re always going to be bad. Players will bolt the first chance they get. If you keep someone, it’s because you’re offering them a max deal when no other team will, because they aren’t that great a player.

        At some point the mid-market fans need to stop watching the NBA until it becomes more like the NFL, where every team has a shot of being good.

    • kb2408 - Nov 1, 2013 at 4:51 PM

      Evidently you didn’t watch the playoffs last season. The Heat were a bad coaching decision by Vogel from from possibly not getting to the Finals. And a miracle finish in game 6 from not winning the title.

  2. historyisyourfriend - Nov 1, 2013 at 11:30 AM

    The counter to this argument is we are playing in the offense oriented NBA now as opposed to the more physical defense from the past. There are no Bad Boys or Knicks type teams from the late 80’s/early 90’s that really dug in and made you earn everything (not to mention the intimidation factor is near zero now). Also today the no hand check rule allows a lot greater offensive freedom than ever before. So the numbers look higher and are elite, but skewed. Much like the NFL, the NBA has basically become a watered down version of what it used to be.

    • adamsjohn714 - Nov 1, 2013 at 11:51 AM

      Do you mean back when there were a ton more points scored per game? I’m referring to the “inflated numbers” of the current league. If Wilt played today, at the current pace, he’d average 75 ppg and 45 rpg, right? Since it’s so much easier to accrue stats. Can you tell i’m being sarcastic?

      In fact, much of that “toughness” that fans believe led to better defense just resulted in fouls, which led to free throws, which is pretty much the worst result for a defensive possession. With respect to your point, historyisntyourfriend.

  3. kb2408 - Nov 1, 2013 at 12:11 PM

    I don’t think there is anything I enjoy more in sports than watching a great shooter when he’s “in the zone”! Curry is one of my favorite player’s to watch for that very reason. When he gets red hot, there is absolutely nothing a defense can do.

  4. reastnt - Nov 1, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    I was at the Clippers-Warriors game last night – best point guard duel I’ve ever seen. Curry is remarkable – smooth, seemingly effortless shots from just about anywhere on the court. Swish, swish, swish. (Well, there was one air ball….) He moves really well off the ball too.

    But CP3 won the dual. Best shooter vs. best point guard, who also happens to be a great scorer when he needs to be.

  5. unfrozencavemanlawyer2 - Nov 1, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    If the league is unbalanced, it is because 1) There are simply too many teams. There are not enough good players to fill out 30 NBA rosters and 2) The max salary rule. How much would it have been worth to Dan Gilbert to keep LeBron? 30 million a year? 35? Since he can not get more from anyone team, aside from the extra year his original team can offer, money becomes a secondary consideration for the top players. Chance to win and quality of life become primary factors. A city like Milwaukee would have super long odds of ever assembling a really good team.

  6. historyisyourfriend - Nov 1, 2013 at 6:12 PM

    adamsjohn714 seems like an angry little individual – how about you go look up 3 pointers shot back then vs now and the historical context of cycles between big men and little men and their affect on the NBA. Then you might get a small clue of what I am talking about. A hint for you: The game used to be played from the inside out. Now the reverse is true. It isn’t because there are better shooters. Its because there is a serious lack of dominant big men. The “best center” out there right now is Dwight Howard and that guy is a one dimensional player on his best days.

    Oh and while we are at this, yes the scoring was higher back then. Mostly because even simple minds knew that the closer you get to the rim, the higher your shooting percentage goes up.

    And finally, since you got all bowed up I will assume you are a Curry fan – mind telling me how “da greatest shooter ever” can’t stay healthy and has never shot a meaningful shot (thats code for in the NBA Finals)? Oh that’s right…because “da greatest shooter ever” don’t play no defense….

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