Steph Curry has been one of the best players in the NBA for more than half a decade now.
He's the only player in league history to be named unanimous MVP, has been an All-Star six years in a row,and has posted the three highest scoring averages of his career outside of that unanimous MVP season in each of the last three years, with the numbers increasing each year.
Curry. LeBron James. Kevin Durant. Kawhi Leonard. James Harden. Anthony Davis. Giannis Antetokounmpo. If you were to ask a random person off the street to rank the top five players in the game today, chances are they would all come from that list of names.
But what about the best players in the game five years from now? Will Curry maintain his lofty place among the top NBA superstars?
This week, the NBA team at NBC Sports has been counting down its list of who it projects to be the 50 best players in the NBA five years from now in the summer of 2024. Age, potential, injury history and other factors all were taken into account, and the projections have Curry lower than you might expect.
NBC Sports' Tom Haberstroh certainly feels that way, being of the opinion that Curry's No. 31 ranking is too low for the greatest shooter in the history of the sport.
"Did I miss something?" Haberstroh questioned. "I feel like the best shooter ever deserves a higher spot on this list. If you don’t think his superhuman ability to score from far away places won’t age well, consider the careers of Reggie Miller and Ray Allen, the only two players who have made more 3-pointers than Curry has in this league. Miller was starting playoff games at age 39. Allen was starting Finals games at age 38. Oh, and Steve Nash was an All-Star two weeks after his 38th birthday."
For reference, Curry will be 36 in the summer of 2024.
"Curry’s ranking suggests he’s at the tail end of his career," Haberstroh continued, "but he just increased his scoring average for the second consecutive season, averaging 27.3 points per game with pristine efficiency. After raising his scoring average to 28.2 points per game this postseason, there’s no signs of decline."
So why No. 31? What factor is holding Curry back from being ranked higher?
Haberstroh concedes that it's certainly possible Curry's injury history could rear its ugly head at some point, but even if that were to occur, he still thinks Curry is being underrated.
"OK, the ankles," Haberstroh wrote. "Yes, the ankles. There’s reason to worry that Curry’s wheels will deflate faster than the average NBA player, but even if Curry moves off the ball and becomes more of a spot-up shooter, I still think he’d stretch defenses to near half court. We’ve never seen a player like Curry who can launch from just about anywhere with the ball in his hands.
"But even if he can’t terrorize defenses with his lightning-quick handles and crab-like lateral movement, he’ll still impact the game at a high level simply by standing there beyond the arc. Just ask Miller, Allen and Nash about how that gravitational pull ages."
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Curry underrated? Some things never change ...