Has the Arrival of Kevin Durant Altered Stephen Curry's Legacy?
As of right now, Stephen Curry is averaging 24.2 points, 5.9 assists, and 4.2 rebounds per game. That is a huge drop from his MVP season last year where he averaged 30.1 points, 6.7 assists, and 5.4 rebounds per game while belonging to the 50-40-90 club for the first time, particularly in points. While that seems like a huge difference, the most glaring stat is the shot attempts. Last season Curry averaged 20.2 shot attempts and now he is getting 16.8 shots up per game. It’s almost a four shot difference and that would have to do with the arrival of Kevin Durant.
While Kevin Durant is having his most efficient year in the NBA, Curry has sort of dipped in production. So the question must be asked, has the arrival Kevin Durant damaged or altered Stephen Curry’s legacy?
Last year around this time, ESPN and TNT NBA personalities were debating whether Curry was the best player in the NBA. At worst, he was number two. Now the media has dropped him behind Kevin Durant, who is having a stellar efficient season. Durant is shooting 54 percent from the field and about 41 percent from three while averaging 26.1 points per game. Curry shooting numbers have diminished as there have been several games where Durant has scored over 30 and Curry didn’t crack 20. In fact, outside of Dub Nation, Kevin Durant is the talk of the Warriors and Curry has seemed to have taken a step back.
More importantly, it seems like his mainstream appeal has taken a step back as well. Now Curry is one of the most popular athletes in the NBA and will continue to be. However, with Kevin Durant leaving OKC and joining the Warriors, people will negate anything Curry does and credit it to the super team .
In terms of Curry’s legacy, that’s a double edge sword. He now has to share the ball with Durant making his production dip and another player (at his position nonetheless) now has the chance to put up better numbers. Players like Russell Westbrook and James Harden have gotten more attention than Curry. Let’s face it; Curry is not talked about this year as much as he was the last two seasons.
Slowly, but surely, whenever the Warriors are mentioned, Kevin Durant’s name is the first that pops up after. Stephen Curry has taken a backseat to Durant and that will only hurt his legacy. Many may point to Dwyane Wade’s deferring to LeBron in Miami, but the difference was Wade was on the decline, while Curry is on the rise.
Stephen Curry deferring this much to Durant will only cause his legacy to be hurt and the Warriors will suffer because of it. As seen by the Cavs-Warriors game on Christmas, the Warriors need Curry to be productive for the Warriors to beat the Cavs. Curry is third on the team in shot attempts (Kevin and Klay are tied for 1st with 17.1).
Stephen Curry has fallen into the “super team effect”, which is basically when people discredit your play because you’re on a team that has multiple good players. It’s hard for Curry’s legacy not to take a hit when the Warriors are blowing out teams constantly and other players like Durant (multiple 30 point games) and Klay Thompson (60 point game) are having more noticeable games. Apart from Curry’s game of 13 threes, he’s been average (at least by his standards).
Now it’s not entirely Durant’s fault as Curry has been in sort of a shooting slump over the past month. However, it’s more of his appeal that has taken a hit to his legacy rather than his slight decline in production. It’s a long season, but if there are a few more years of what is going on right now, people may push him further down the list of the greatest NBA players.
*All stats were derived from ESPN.com*