Stephen Curry: On Pace for 400 Three-Pointers
On March 7th, 2016, Stephen Curry passed the 300 mark for Three-Pointers Made in a season. It was the first time in NBA history that anybody -- not Ray Allen, Reggie Miller, nobody -- had hit that number. The only problem? There was still 20 games left to be played in this NBA campaign and, all of a sudden, fans are wondering: is 400 three-pointers for Stephen in play? Admittedly, it does sound impossible.
The NBA added the three-point line before the 1979-1980 season and, over its 26 years in existence, nobody had even sniffed 300. In fact, for quite sometime, many basketball purists considered the line a gimmick -- well, is it a cheap trick now? As of March 15th, the Golden State Warriors have 17 games left to play and with the franchise both chasing the Chicago Bulls’ historic 72-10 record and attempting to hold off the ever-steady San Antonio Spurs for home court advantage, it’s a fair assumption that Curry will play about 34 minutes, his average MPG, the rest of the way.
Still, 400, you’re joking, right? As of now, he stands at 318 -- of course, that leaves 82 three-pointers to go with 17 games. If we measure his 17-game splits (strange, I know) throughout the course of the year, Curry has put up lines of 87, 73, and 86. So, yes, in an odd way, 400 three-pointers is certainly in play for Curry. Before this season, 300 was an inane statement, but Curry has turned that narrative on its head in an instant. In reality, much of the potential lies within the surrounding situations. Curry and the Warriors have not been shy about openly chasing Chicago’s record, but in order to pull off the impossible, they’ll need the MVP healthy and firing away until Game 82. Over the last decade, LeBron James has elongated his career by resting once the 1st seed was captured -- however, Curry will not have that luxury.
With the aforementioned ageless wonder Spurs right behind them, the Warriors may just need 400 three-pointers in order to stay ahead of them. To clinch home court advantage, record or not, is the most important end goal of this regular season for both franchises. The last time the Warriors lost at home was on January 27th, 2015; for the Spurs, their last regular season loss was on March 12th, 2015. Needless to say, a potential Western Conference Finals showdown between the Warriors and Spurs may hinge on whoever earns that all-important Game 7. In their last 17 games, they’ll face the New York Knicks, Los Angeles Clippers, Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, and San Antonio Spurs (x3) -- teams all in the Top Ten of Opponent Three-Pointers Made. For perspective, the Spurs have only allowed 414 three-pointers in 2015-2016 -- the Sacramento Kings, the NBA’s 30th ranked team in Opponent 3PM, have given up a staggering 677!
On the opposite end of the spectrum, they play the New Orleans Pelicans, Dallas Mavericks (x2), and Memphis Grizzlies (x2) in terms of that Bottom Ten Opponent 3PM. Over that span of time, he’ll likely be guarded by the likes of Norris Cole, Arron Afflalo, Wesley Matthews, Kawhi Leonard, Ricky Rubio, Briante Weber, and Damian Lillard. Other than Leonard and the Warriors’ showdown with Chris Paul and the Clippers, there aren’t many individual match-ups that will cause Curry distress. Either way, he’s proved many times that players like James, Leonard, and Jimmy Butler can and will still struggle against him. Or, if you’re just a fan of simpler math -- Curry is averaging 5.1 threes a game. 17 (games) multiplied by 5 (per game) is equal to 85, which would just barely push him past 400. Of course, that’s not counting the more subjective side of the game -- health, illnesses, defenders, hot/cold streaks, etc -- but it seems feasible at the very least.
Curry has nailed 8 or more three-pointers in an unreal 12 games, even hitting double-digits in 3 of them -- a few of his magnificent hot streaks could easily put him the driver’s seat the rest of the way. However, it could still very well come down to those pesky Spurs. Could you imagine a scenario in which the Warriors, who play the Spurs twice in the regular season’s final week, will be on the verge of 73 wins, led by a player aiming for 400 threes in a season, against a team also challenging for 73 wins, in which the decisive home court advantage may be decided between two teams that haven’t lost at home in over a year? That would be must-watch television, undoubtedly.
Can Curry hit 400? Who knows, but we’ll enjoy the chase every step of the way.