DimeMag

The Five Biggest Stephen Curry Steps On His Path To Stardom

It’s good to be Stephen Curry. The cherub-faced Warriors sniper has slowly become one of the best players in the game despite going largely unrecruited out of high school, and largely thought of as a one-skill specialist when he was drafted by the Warriors with the seventh pick in the 2007 Draft. The following five moments transformed him into something else: a possible MVP and perhaps the most exciting player in world today.

5.  2008 Davidson NCAA run to the Elite Eight

What Curry is doing now shouldn’t be surprising. The ‘Dubs superstar was just as incendiary a scorer and brilliant a playmaker during his collegiate days at Davidson.

He rose to national prominence while leading the mid-major Wildcats on an oft-breathtaking NCAA Tournament run to the Elite Eight in 2008 where they lost to eventual champion Kansas. And as any Jayhawks fan will tell you, the champs were lucky Curry couldn’t get his hands on the ball during the lost possession of their two-point regional final win over Davidson – he was shooting fire all March.

4. Overcoming early-career ankle injuries

There was a time not long ago when Curry was a question mark. Not due to a lack of skill or overall talent, but because it seems his balky ankles just couldn’t hold up to the NBA grind.

Two surgeries, months of rehab, and constant training later, though, Curry’s become something close to a league iron man – he played in 78 game each of the past two seasons and hasn’t missed a contest in 2014-2015.

Need a reason for Golden State’s ascent up the basketball ranks? Look no further than Steph’s consistent health. He’s gone from fragile ankles to ankle-breaking.

 

3. Steph’s 54-point night at MSG and his 2013 playoff performance against the Spurs

The fourth year guard wasn’t named an All-Star in 2013 despite spearheading the Warriors’ turnaround with the type of offensive wizardry to which we’ve grown so accustomed. But he took vengeance out on the league from there, going for 26 points and seven assists a night over the season’s last 30 games – including a career-high 54-point, 11-trey masterpiece on the Madison Square Garden stage.

He wasn’t done once the playoffs started. Curry continued his torrid second half of the season in the first-round upset of the Nuggets, putting up 30 points and 13 assists in a Game 2 upset on the road, 29 and 11 in Game 3, and 31 and seven in thei Game 4 win to wrest control of the series.

But the best was yet to come in the first game against the mighty Spurs during the Western Conference Semifinals that year. In the first game, Curry spontaneously combusted to account for 30 Dubs points and finished the game with 44 points on 18-of-35 from the field (6/14 3pt).

Curry cooled off after that, but he still played an integral role in Golden State exceeding expectations by stealing two games off the Spurs, including a Game 2 upset on the road.

2. Defensive improvement with rookie coach at the helm

The 2013-14 season ended in a bit of disappointment with the Warriors losing a hard-fought first-round series — one of many that spring — against a Clippers team distracted by Donald Sterling. That summer, Mark Jackson was terminated as head coach despite the vocal support of nearly everyone, including Steph. Steve Kerr was brought in, and the first thing he asked Steph to do was rise to the challenge on the defensive end of the court without sacrificing his offensive production.

So far this season, he’s met the challenge head on, accruing 3.0 defensive win shares through just 51 games after setting a career high with 4.0 last year. Besides John Wall, Curry’s defensive real plus-minus is higher than any other guard in the top 20, and both his first-year coach and his peers have dubbed the Dubs star the best point guard in the NBA.

1. Leading vote-getter for the 2015 NBA All-Star Game

This season, after rising the level of intensity on the defensive end without sacrificing his offensive brilliance, Curry is an MVP candidate. The Warriors have shot out to the best record in the NBA before the All-Star break, and Curry is their best player. Because fans identify with his unassuming size (we’re bigger than him) and he’s electrified crowds and coaches with his mastery on both sides of the hardwood, he received the most All-Star votes in the NBA this season. Even more than the King.

A star has been born.

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