Steph, now a Finals MVP, still at No. 5 in ESPN player ranking originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Luka Dončić and Nikola Jokić couldn't beat Steph Curry in the 2022 NBA playoffs, but they are ahead of him in ESPN's latest NBArank, a list of the top 100 players in the league entering the upcoming season.
Curry, fresh off his fourth NBA title and first Finals MVP, is ranked at No. 5 on the list -- the same spot he was entering last season.
The top five on the NBArank list was released Friday, with Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid coming in at No. 4, Dončić at No. 3, Jokić at No. 2 and Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo at No. 1.
Why didn't Curry move up despite all that he accomplished last year?
"Curry is in the same position he was in at the start of last season," ESPN's Kendra Andrews wrote. "After averaging 25.5 points per game on 43.7% shooting, Curry by no means had a subpar season -- he was an early contender for MVP -- but an ankle injury did keep him off the floor for the last month of the regular season. In his absence, his teammates stepped up and kept the Warriors afloat to secure the West's No. 3 seed. Perhaps that -- in addition to the rise of the MVP contenders below -- is the reason he's in the same spot in our rankings."
After leading the NBA in scoring during the 2020-21 season (32.0 points per game), Curry only averaged 25.5 points last season. And while he set the record for most career 3-pointers in league history, he shot 38 percent from deep, the lowest of his career aside from 2019-20, when he played just five games.
Curry, 34, also played in just 64 games as he missed significant time at the end of the regular season with a foot injury. So while he still is in his prime, his age likely played a factor since the four players ahead of him are all under the age of 29.
Jokić did capture his second straight regular season MVP and the Denver Nuggets didn't have Jamal Murray or Michael Porter Jr. during their first-round NBA playoff series, which the Warriors won in five games.
Similarly, Dončić and the Mavericks lost the Warriors in five games in the Western Conference finals. But the Slovenian star is 11 years younger than Curry, so that likely played a part in the way the rankings played out.
While fans might be upset by the rankings, Curry very likely doesn't care. Even if he sees the list, he has the hardware Dončić, Jokić and Embiid crave, and that's what is most important.
If Curry feels at all slighted by coming in at No. 5 on this list, he will use it as fuel this season as he tries to win his fifth NBA title.