While others are busy arguing over who the best young point guard in the league is, we spend our time watching everyone because they all have something extra to offer. And while Stephen Curry and Jrue Holiday aren’t household names the way D Rose and CP3 are, fans in the Bay Area and in the City of Brotherly Love are still happy with them.
This season marks Holiday’s first All-Star appearance. He’s the only thing keeping the Sixers from falling off the map (19.1 points and 8.8 assists a game). Curry didn’t make the squad, but he’s arguably the best player (21 points and 6.6 assists game) on a playoff team. Both are healthy, both are putting in work, and both should be considered two of the best up-and-coming guards in the league (Curry turns 25 next week; Holiday will be 23 this summer).
Yes, they are completely different players. But while their strengths differ, they should have some fun matchups over the next decade. Right now, who do you think is better: Stephen Curry or Jrue Holiday? We argue. You decide.
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One of the biggest surprises of the 2012-2013 NBA season has been the consistent play of the Golden State Warriors, who sit at sixth in the West and look primed to make a big splash come playoff time. What isn’t a big surprise, though, is the continued improvement of Stephen Curry, who has become one of the most complete point guards in the league. We’ve been in awe of his sweet shooting since he roamed the courts of Davidson College, but he is developing weapons that set him apart from the rest of the marksmen.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. Stephen Curry can rain buckets. His three-ball is among the most accurate in the league and has been for the duration of his career. He sits second on the all-time three-point percentage list at 44.3 percent, just behind Steve Kerr. Curry’s scoring doesn’t just revolve around the deep threat, though, as he’s a crafty penetrator who seems to have a knack for getting to the bucket. Adept at drawing fouls, teams must exercise tolerance when he enters the lane, as Curry leads the league free throw percentage at an astounding 90.5 percent.
What Curry lacks in pure athleticism, he makes up for with a high-basketball IQ and dependable decision making. At just 24, he’s already shown that he can do wonders as the catalyst of an offense. Since fully taking over the reins this season after the departure of Monta Ellis, he is flourishing in an offense that ranks ninth in efficiency. His 6.6 assists per game are a nice jump from his numbers in previous seasons, and he has shown flashes of great distributing potential over the course of the season.
Considered one of the biggest snubs of this year’s All-Star Game, Curry is a big reason his teammate David Lee will be making the trip to Houston. Curry and Lee have demonstrated beautiful chemistry when running the pick-n-roll this season, something that they’ve been building on each year. Lee, Klay Thompson and the rest of this exciting Warriors squad have all benefitted from not only Curry’s improved vision and unselfishness, but also from all the attention he begs when lurking the perimeter. His ability to draw double teams and free up teammates has been superb.
Not everything about Stephen Curry screams star, though. While he’s certainly taken strides on the defensive end, he’s by no means a highly-regarded stopper. His lack of great lateral quickness and inability to effectively body stronger, more physical point guards leaves him with little defensive versatility. As his career has progressed, he’s become more skilled at creating turnovers. In his first two seasons, he led all guards in fouls per game, but has curbed that habit and become more patient when attempting to pick pockets.
One of the biggest knocks on Curry is something completely out of his control: his injury-prone ankles. Over the course of his career, he’s missed significant time due to multiple sprains, twists and rolls, which have made him an easy target for doubters. The fact of the matter is, when he’s healthy, he’s to be feared. Few other players in today’s league can fill it up like he does while still facilitating one of the best offenses in the league. So long as Curry can stay off the injury report, he should enjoy a long, prolific career.
Stephen Curry and Jrue Holiday are two of the better up-and-coming young point guards in the NBA. One was picked for an All-Star selection and the other was snubbed, but the contest between each of them is very close in my eyes. Curry is one of the most talented shooters the league has ever seen, but if you asked me today, I think Jrue Holiday would be the best choice.
Jrue has a better all-around game than Curry and flourishes on all parts of the floor. Curry is a great three-point shooter, but if you ask him to take the ball in the paint he won’t finish the play. This season, Curry is shooting 57 percent at the rim but only taking two shots there, according to Hoopdata.com. Holiday is taking 4.8 shots at the rim and making 68 percent of them. Money is earned at the rim in basketball. Finishing there is something star players are able to do consistently.
Holiday is also shooting a better overall percentage than Stephen Curry – 45 to 43 percent from the field. If Curry were shooting 45 percent or higher and still maintaining a great percentage from beyond the arch then it would be a different story. He’s barely shooting 43 percent and hasn’t had the most consistent season at the rim.
I’ll take Holiday because there are more nights, unlike Curry, where he won’t go cold. When you’re taking a lot of shots from beyond the arch, you’re going to miss more too. I understand that the three-point shot is worth more points than a two, but the rim shot is more consistent than the three-point shot.
The three-ball is a crucial part of the Warriors offense, but I’d rather have a player who shoots 35 percent from three while getting to the rim on a consistent basis.
Holiday is also a far better defender than Curry is. He has a defensive rating of 106 to Curry’s 107. It seems close, but when you factor in their “on the floor” stats, it clears the dust a bit. The 76ers are 4.9 points per 100 possession worse with Holiday off the floor. When Curry is off the floor, the Warriors defense is a positive-2.7 points over the same stretch.
Curry allows opposing point guards a PER of 16.3 while Holiday only allows opposing point guards a PER of 15.0. If there was a late stop that needed to be made, I would trust Holiday before Curry. Curry improved his defensive game this season, but not enough to make him a better defender than Holiday. He normally likes to gamble for steals on the defensive end and that allows easy spot-up shots for the Warriors opponents. The Warriors will even hide him at times on the opponents poorest perimeter threat. With Holiday no micromanagement is needed.
Overall both of these guys are great, but Holiday is better this year without a doubt.
-MICHAEL SYKES, II
Who would you take right now?
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