When comparing him with another elite point guard, Curry and Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook are two very different players. Both players have their own unique skill sets, creating a compelling argument of who is better between the two.
While Westbrook definitely has an upper hand on Curry when it comes to being stronger, quicker, more athletic and more explosive to the rim, here are five reasons that why Curry is the better star of the two today:
When it comes to comparing the players' offensive games, the clearest disparity is Curry's superior 3-point shooting prowess. Averaging 2.5 3-pointers made a game in his career, Curry earned the ultimate distinction for sharpshooters by setting the single-season 3-point field-goal record with 272 makes last season, topping Ray Allen's 269 3-pointers during the 2005-06 season. Curry is also second on the all-time career list for best 3-point field-goal percentage at .446 percent, only fractions behind Steve Kerr's .454 in his career.
Shooting from distance has never been a major part of Westbrook's game. A 30-percent shooter in his career from behind the arc, he instead focuses his offensive game on penetrating the interior defense and finishing at the rim. To put numbers in perspective, he has made only 251 3-pointers in his entire career, 21 3-pointers behind Curry's record-setting number from last season.
Both players came into the league as guards who didn't necessarily have to shoulder the ball handling role in college, yet both have become above-average passers in the NBA. Westbrook is certainly quicker and has averaged more assists than Curry, but the Golden State leader has the more dangerous handles. Look no further than this snippet against the San Antonio Spurs last season for a small taste of what Curry can and has done.
While Curry's definitely not perfect with his occasional careless one-handed passes in traffic, he's much better than Westbrook in this category. Using his high basketball IQ as a passer and shot-taker, his ability to create his own shot takes the pressure off his teammates and is particularly noticeable when he is not in the game. A great facilitator and leader, it is difficult to argue in Westbrook's favor when he's often criticized for his questionable shot selection.
Neither point guard is known for his defense. Both players are offensive-minded players who don't necessarily focus their energy on defense. That being said, Curry tops Westbrook when it comes to off-ball defense.
For man-on-man coverage, Westbrook may have the edge thanks to his speed and athleticism. However, when it comes to being a key member of a cohesive team defense, he often loses the man he's covering. Due to his overwhelming success on offense, Curry is often underrated as a defender and uses the aforementioned decision-making skills to play smart defense.
Proven with a weaker supporting cast
These are the top players Curry has played with over his past four seasons: David Lee, Monta Ellis, Klay Thompson, Andrew Bogut, Harrison Barnes, Stephen Jackson, Jarrett Jack, Dorell Wright and Corey Maggette.
These are the top players Westbrook has played with over his past five seasons: Kevin Durant, James Harden, Serge Ibaka, Kevin Martin, Jeff Green, Kendrick Perkins, Nick Collison, Thabo Sefolosha and Derek Fisher.
No offense to the players on the Warriors over the past four seasons, but the Thunder have put together more-talented rosters than the Warriors, as seen with their NBA Finals appearance in the 2011-12 season. As with any team sport, individuals are able to perform better when on a superior team. Imagine the Thunder without Durant or Harden on it for the last few seasons or imagine one of those two players on the Warriors alongside Curry. The teams' win-loss records would likely be drastically different if this were the case.
Austin Chang is a San Francisco Bay Area-based sports writer covering the Golden State Warriors for the Yahoo Contributor Network. He is the Associate Editor of Sports Out West and works for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. Follow this contributor on Twitter @_austinchang.
- Sports & Recreation
- Golden State Warriors
- Russell Westbrook