Stephen Curry Scores, But Is He Playing Better?


Stephen Curry was good during the regular season. He was in fact MVP good during the regular season. Yet for the first three games of this series between the Golden State Warriors and the New Orleans Pelicans, it would seem he is even better.

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Consider that Curry averaged about twenty-four points per game in the regular season. Now Curry has averaged thirty-two points in three games against the Pelicans. This has not come as a result of running up the score either. Curry has needed every one of those points just like he needed that big shot in overtime to sink the Pelicans in game three.

Perhaps resorting to our impact statistic will give us a clear picture of whether Curry is truly reaching another level or whether he is just playing more minutes. So first let’s calculate Curry’s final season impact/min stat and then compare it to his playoff performance so far.

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  • Impact = Points + 2(Assists + DReb + Steals + Blocks) – 2(Turnovers)

    Curry (Full Season) = 1900 + 2(619 + 285 + 163 + 16) – 2(249)
    Curry (Full Season) = 3568 Impact / 2554 Min
    Curry (Full Season) = 1.397

    This means that every minute that Curry is on the court, the Warriors get about 1.4 points for him being there. So if Curry plays twenty minutes, he has generated somewhere around thirty points through all the things he does.

    Now let’s look at the playoff numbers.

    Curry (Playoffs) = 96 + 2(20 + 12 + 0 + 4) – 2(11)
    Curry (Playoffs) = 146 Impact/ 121 Min
    Curry (Playoffs) = 1.207

    Interestingly even though Curry’s scoring has gone up, his impact has gone down. The reason for this is not turnovers but the value that the impact formula gives to steals and defensive rebounds. Curry’s points are up and his turnovers are consistent, but his assists are down a little and his rebounds are down a lot.

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  • This is a weakness of the impact formula, because it judges the totality of a player. It does not stop to consider a player’s role. Curry’s job is primarily to score, other folks are supposed to rebound. These fuzzy roles sharpen in the playoffs.

    So I would not worry about Curry’s impact/min stat yet, but the next round of the playoffs will see the competition increase. Curry will only become more important in future rounds.