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Where Stephen Curry ranks among the best NBA defensemen of all time after claiming his fourth title

Now that Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry has won his fourth championship and won the Bill Russell Trophy for NBA Finals MVP for the first time, how high has he risen in the NBA’s all-time point guard rankings?

The long-awaited Finals MVP award filled the only gap in Curry’s resume. He has already won a couple of regular season MVP titles, appeared on eight All-NBA teams (four of them with the first team), and at the beginning of this season became the NBA’s all-time leader in three-pointers.

When Curry was ranked fourth among point guards in 2016 by ESPN’s NBA All-Time ratings, he was unanimously named MVP in the heat of the season for helping the Warriors win a record 73 games, his place ahead of Isaiah Thomas was debatable.

Given all that Curry has accomplished since then, that is no longer the case. When we recently compiled a list of the 76 best NBA players in league history, Curry ranked third among point guards behind Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson.

With one more title in the books, it’s time to get back to where Curry has always held his place.


Added Curry rating by championships

In connection with this 2016 ranking, I have introduced my additional championship metric, which uses Basketball-Reference.com Winning Shares – estimated early in NBA history – and awards voting to determine how many championships a player would add to an average team over the course of their career, adjusted for league quality.

Since we’re looking at player performance and not team performance, winning another title won’t affect Curry’s score. Finals MVP is also not taken into account in the calculations.

However, Curry’s 0.18 league titles added this year have earned him a career 1.85, 17th all-time. That’s roughly where Curry finished in our recent rankings (16th), though he’s sure to move up after this post-season run.

If that seems too low, remember that Curry is still adding to his ledger. He will most likely overtake Dirk Nowitzki (1.9) next season and by the time he finishes he has a good chance of making it into the top 10.

Curry is already in the top 15 championships added to the playoffs based on bounty voting. In the regular season, his numbers are worse, partly because he simply didn’t play as many minutes as the greats of all time. Of the 16 players ahead of Curry, 14 played at least 34,500 regular season minutes (including Julius Erving’s ABA career). Curry 28,361 and growing.


Clear top three on PG

Voters and championships agreed on three of the best point guards of all time, all of whom can be identified by just one name: Magic, Oscar, and Steph.

With the exception of combo guard Jerry West, no other point guard has reached the level of these three MVPs. All of them have maintained their success in the postseason, which other MVP-winning point guards (James Harden, Steve Nash and Russell Westbrook) cannot do.

At some point, supporters of Thomas, John Stockton, or Chris Paul could sue Curry on the grounds of longevity. This was undermined by Curry continuing to play at a high level into his 30s. While Paul and Stockton still lead him with 11 All-NBA nods each, Curry now has more than Thomas (five) and equaled Thomas’ 1990 Finals MVP win.


Steph vs. Oscar

The best comparison to Curry’s greatness as a point guard now is Robertson, who won the only MVP (in 1963-64), but almost equals Curry in terms of MVP share thanks to nine top-five finishes compared to Curry’s three.

With all the attention that Curry never won the Finals MVP, it’s funny to note that Robertson was one of only two players ahead of him on our top 76 list who didn’t have the honor. (The other, namesake Russell, would certainly have been Finals MVP multiple times if the award had been presented prior to 1969, when he won the last of 11 championships with the Celtics.)

Finals MVP was not Robertson’s focus because his Cincinnati Royals never won the title during its heyday, when they often lost to the Russell dynasty Celtics. By the time Robertson won the championship in 1971 with the Milwaukee Bucks, he was a clear second choice behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who was named Finals MVP.

The addition of championships draws an interesting contrast between Curry and Robertson. Oscar has a big lead in the regular season championships, added by his long career (Robertson’s 43,886 minutes rank 22nd all-time), while Curry dominates the playoffs thanks to his playoff long run streak play” Golden State”.

The combined total for the two players is almost the same, with Curry (1.85) ahead of Robertson (1.82) after this playoff. Although Robertson is ninth in our top 76 rankings – two places up from 2016, perhaps due to increased attention to his triple-doubles average since Westbrook joined him in this two-man club – I I suspect that Curry will end up ahead of him the next time we go back to voting.


Can Steph catch Magik?

ESPN’s Kendrick Perkins sparked controversy announcement last month that Curry winning Finals MVP would elevate him above Johnson as the greatest point guard in NBA history.

As for added championships, this is not yet a discussion. Despite being forced to retire after his 31-year season due to a positive HIV diagnosis, Johnson only returned briefly, playing 32 games in 1995-96, Johnson still has a huge lead over Curry. Johnson’s 2.43 championship added eighth all-time.

Maybe Curry can catch Johnson, but it doesn’t have to be. Curry will need four more seasons, such as his 2021-2022 season, to close the gap, meaning he will play in the championship and at the Under-38 All-NBA level. keep adding value at a lower level by playing until age 40.

Health aside, Curry’s possible added number of championship titles will largely depend on how long he wants to keep playing, given that his shooting is likely to retain value even as his physical ability wanes.

However, Johnson is the only point guard that Curry may not be able to match in maximum value. Johnson won three MVPs and as many Finals MVPs as part of the Lakers’ five championships in the 1980s. This success, and possibly a bonus for the years Johnson was unable to play, led to him being ranked 4th in the top 76. That’s probably more than Curry will ever get.

On the other hand, Curry has a habit of proving us wrong—this time by leading the Warriors to yet another title after two years of lottery play.

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