The 28-year-old has cemented his place as the greatest shooter in the game.
After an astonishing regular season that included 402 threes made at a 45 percent clip, Stephen Curry has been named the NBA’s 2015-2016 most valuable player, becoming the first player ever to notch the honor in unanimous fashion.
The official announcement came on Tuesday, but the results have been all but locked for months. Curry’s shooting arm permanently etched this Warriors team into the annals of NBA history, as Curry led Golden State to the league’s best-ever regular season record (73-9) along with a host of other firsts and bests.
But it is the work that Curry has done behind the royal blue three-point line at Oracle Arena and all those other arcs around the country that truly earned him this award.
The stats are stunning. With a left-wing, step-back, defender-in-his-face three pointer in a March 7 game against the Orlando Magic, Curry nailed his 300th three of the season.
That mark alone was considered unbelievable, as no other player had ever hit more than 269 in a year before 2015-2016. And the one other player who had reached that tally was Ray Allen — the man who many considered the best shooter to ever play the game until Curry rolled up.
Curry skipped past the 300-mark with five weeks remaining in the regular season.
But after reaching 300, he kept shooting. And he kept hitting. He kept aiming and firing and amassing the made threes until, on the last night of the year, he hit his 400th triple of the season.
Right corner. Catch and shoot. Swoosh. Cue the roar of the crowd, the rewriting of the record books and the last bit of proof anyone needed that this guy would be our 2015-2016 MVP.
Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James came in second and third, respectively. While Curry averaged 30.1 points, 6.7 assists and 2.1 steals per game, Leonard averaged 21.2 points and 6.8 rebounds a contest and James tallied 25.3 and 7.4.
Curry is the 11th player to bring home the honor in consecutive years.
Startlingly — considering that he was named MVP last year as well — pundits spent much of the season pondering whether Curry should receive the NBA’s Most Improved Player award along with top honors (although the former title eventually went to the Portland Trailblazers’ CJ McCollum).
Not only did Curry hit 116 more triples this campaign than last (a 40.6 percent hike from the previous record!), but his overall field goal percentage and three-point percentage both climbed over a percent, too. He ended the regular season shooting 45.4 percent from deep and 50.4 percent overall.
His marksmanship from beyond the arc brought his true shooting percentage to 66.9 — a stat that, according to SB Nation, is over 10 points above that of the average NBA player. And he did all this playing just 34.2 minutes per game, as the Warriors’ tendency to run up large leads allowed Curry to sit out a spate of fourth quarters this year.
Per ESPN, Curry’s the only player ever to average over 30 points in less than 35 minutes. And he’s just the third man in NBA history to compile a 50-45-90 shooting percentage line, with the other two sharpshooters now sitting on the Golden State staff — Steve Kerr and Steve Nash.
So with one more individual accolade tucked under his belt, Curry can now concentrate on bringing another championship to Northern California. He’s been plagued by injuries — first his ankle, then his knee — thus far this postseason, but as of Monday he is back on the court, next to his teammates, right where he belongs.
His team has nine wins to go before hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy into the air for the second straight year — and if Curry keeps playing anywhere close to the way he has been since the season tipped off last October, Golden State fans have little to worry about.