LeBron James capturing his fourth NBA championship this year with the Los Angeles Lakers once again fired up the discussion around who the greatest NBA player of all time, with James and six-time champion Michael Jordan leading just about every argument.
Most every discussion revolves around those two, but the players immediately behind those two are a topic with plenty of opinions. For TrueHoop NBA writer Henry Abbott, he believes Warriors star Steph Curry belongs just behind those two legends in the Greatest of All-Time conversation.
Abbott made that statement on Oct. 12, and defended it this week during the latest episode of the "Runnin' Plays" podcast.
“At this point, he’s already played his best ball, in the era of peak LeBron,” Abbott told NBC Sports Bay Area’s Grant Liffmann. “He took three out of four championships. Kevin Durant was on two of those teams, and didn’t have stats anything like Steph’s. Steph is the magic elixir.”
In the period from the 2014-15 season to the ‘18-19 season, a run where the Warriors were in the NBA Finals five consecutive times, Curry averaged 26.5 points, 6.5 assists and 4.9 rebounds while shooting 43.4 percent from 3-point range. But Abbott points to a recently developed advanced metric as justification for Curry’s place on his all-time list.
“Plus-minus is a category of stats that we didn’t have before, but we do now,” Abbott continued with Liffmann. “There are arguments to be had about how best to use it, how big of a sample size it is, and how to adjust for the other players on the court and the opponent and all that stuff, fine.
“I’m just saying, since they measured it in a really sophisticated way, Steph Curry is the best player ever.”
Real plus-minus, which was developed by ESPN and attempts to more accurately measure how a player adds or subtracts points to his team’s scoring margin independent of his teammates, bears out Curry’s dominance over the Warriors’ five-year dynasty. Steph led the NBA in real plus-minus every year over that five-year span, with the lone exception being the 2017-18 season, where he finished second to Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry.
There are numerous accolades and honors that can be attached to Curry from his decorated career, but Warriors fans likely appreciate the three Larry O’Brien trophies the star guard helped bring to the Bay Area.
But Curry certainly belongs among the NBA’s all-time greats, and Abbott provides some great evidence as to why.