Steph Curry won a well deserved NBA most valuable player award last night.
Best shooter, top three ball handler, most skilled offensive player in the league on the best team in the NBA....by far.
As we try to emphasize with the point guard project - this is a point guard's league. And that transition has been a long time coming. While the 4th point to win MVP (5 awards total) in the last 15 years, Steph is only the 5th point to win MVP (8 awards total) in the last 40 years! Kind of crazy, no?
Are you curious as to how Curry's MVP statistics compare to the great points of NBA past?
Of course you are. So....
Stats for point guards named MVP in the last 40 years (as provided by Basketball-reference.com).
Rebounds, Assists, points and total points (assists*2 + points):
Rebounds, Assists, points and total points (assists*2 + points):
I don't have player efficiency (PER) listed here which may be a better holistic indication of how valuable (and efficient) a player is. Rather, for point guards - I highlight regular season averages for assists and points and then round each up and combine to calculate total points generated (not taking into account assists on 3 point filed goals). With this, the first thing that appears is perhaps a minimum threshold of 40 total points - might be arbitrary, but might also be a good baseline for offensive value.
One note, Allen Iverson was actually labeled as a shooting guard by basketball-reference.com the year he won MVP (and we'll see why later on).
One thought....my goodness! How great was Magic Johnson???? By FAR the highest total points on this list...while averaging 2-3 more rebounds per game than anyone else. Sheesh.
Another thought - it appears that Steve Nash is the only player here with "true" point guard type stats. Meaning double digit assists and scoring less than 20 points a game (and you'll see how many shots he took next). Which might mean, being a point guard is great, but perhaps you need to SCORE if you want to be labeled most valuable.
Which leads to a third thought: did Allen Iverson start the trend of points guards that are better scorers than passers?
Total, 3 point, and foul shots attempted with their corresponding %s:
I think we start to get a feel for each point guard's strengths with these stats.
Iverson - shot a lot (at low efficiency), but took 10 foul shots game, and therefore was perhaps able to compensate for low efficiency by attacking the basket.
Rose has the second lowest shooting percentage on this list (though ~45% for a shooter isn't necessarily bad) and took almost 20 shots a game. Certainly not what a "traditional" point guard does. But it's tough being a point guard and the best player/scorer on your team. And this is something Rose told me himself....and has learned what is best for the team. Didn't shoot much better than AI from three, but got the line ~seven times a game. Again, more of a power point that looks to score by attacking with volume rather than shooting jumpers.
Nash only shot the ball 11 times the first time he won MVP! Holy schnikies! Talk about pass first. What's interesting here is that many (including myself) consider Nash to be one of the best shooters of all time. What if he shot more? Also, he only took three to four 3 pointers a game. Also, while a master of the pick and role...apparently not much of a get tot he rim challenge the trees kind of guy....only ~three foul shots a game.
Segue to to Curry....eight 3 pointers taken a game while shooting a better percentage than Nash. Perhaps it's easy to see why he broke his own record this year for most three pointer made in an NBA season. Also, similar to Nash - didn't take many foul shots - more of a perimeter player.
Team record and difference in wins from previous year:
Shouldn't point guards make their teammates better? If so, this should be reflected by their team's records. And in general, the NBA rewards winning.
It's interesting that Magic won MVP one year with his team actually having a worse record than the previous season. Out of the four seasons listed here - the lowest Lakers win total was 57! Well...I guess that means he had a pretty good team!
AI's team was only 7 games better than the season before....but had the best record in the east and was clearly a one man show (AI averaged 31 points a game on 25 shots.....the next highest was 12 points a game on 9 shots, by Theo Ratliff).
Rose's team was a whopping 21 games better than the season before with the best record in the NBA. And consider that he was only 22 years old, that this was the year everyone though Kevin Durant would win MVP (he won MVP for that summer's FIBA world championship) and that Miami would have the best record in the NBA.
A lot of people felt there was some controversy when Nash won his MVP awards. How about a 33 game improvement to have the best record in the NBA? That might do it. Or the fact that he lost Amar'e Stoudemire for the season his second year, was a one man show, but still had the second best record in the NBA, pretty much had better numbers than his previous MVP season, and got the Suns to the western conference Finals? Yeah.
And for Curry? A 16 game improvement and only the 10th team in NBA history to win 67 games or more (only the 3rd team other than the Bulls, Celtics, or Lakers).
Okay, these are the years points guards were awarded the highest individual accolade in the NBA. But there were some pretty great point guards in NBA history. How does the MVP stats above compare to the best statistical years of some of the greatest NBA point guards?
See for yourself.
Best statistical years for other great point guards:
How crazy is it that besides Kidd, all of the points on this list have better numbers that all the points guards that one MVP, whose name isn't Magic?
Out of curiosity, how do the point guard stats compare to the years Kobe, LeBron, and Kevin Durant won MVPs?
Statistics for Kobe, LeBron, and Durant MVP years:
I should say, the total points for these players will be lower by nature - because they don't run the offense and therefore are expected to have less assists. there are probably other metrics to determine their true value. With that said, is it surprising that LeBron (his last year with the Cavs.....before his first year with the Cavs) was the only one that could hold a candle to Magic?
And since James Harden could have been considered most valuable this season, here is a look at his stats - as well as Kobe the year he averaged 35 points a game (scoring 81 in one game) and didn't win MVP either.
Statistics for Kobe and Harden years they didn't win MVP: