Monday it became official: Stephen Curry is the NBA’s Most Valuable Player.
He accepted the award at a ceremony at the Warriors’ facility Monday. Above are the highlights; I’m not sure we have the bandwidth to show everyone he thanked. It was a genuine, touching speech talking about his father, former NBA sharpshooter Dell Curry, as well as his family. He also talked about the obstacles he had to overcome to get to that podium.
Curry’s story is one of player development, of determination, of putting in the effort, and then coming into an NBA and a team that bet on him (remember the early ankle injuries?) and knew how to best take advantage of those skills.
The Knicks and Lakers are big brands in big markets with some big cash to spend this summer on free agents — and both are going big game hunting. They want to land the best players out there on the market.
Marc Gasol is one of those guys. He is arguably the best center in the game today, and he would be a perfect fit as a triangle big because of his passing and midrange game.
But don’t bet on him being a Knick, says former Knick and current Gasol teammate in Memphis Beno Udrih, speaking to the fantastic Jered Zwerling of Bleacher Report.
That same logic should apply to the Lakers.
Remember, Gasol came to the United States and played his high school ball in Memphis — his family moved there after older brother Pau Gasol was drafted by the Hawks then traded to the Grizzlies (for Brevin Knight and Lorenzen Wright, BTW). He has deep ties to Memphis. Plus he is playing for a borderline contender, a team that can and will offer him a longer and richer contract than the Knicks (or Lakers) can. Let’s put it this way, nobody I’ve talked to around the league thinks Gasol is leaving Memphis (San Antonio being the one team that could maybe tempt him slightly).
LaMarcus Aldridge on the other hand…
Stephen Curry is a different kind of MVP.
Usually, the award goes to the physical freaks — LeBron James, Kevin Durant, etc.. — but that is not Curry. Rather he is the perfect point guard for a modern NBA offense — he can space the floor with his shooting, he can play with the ball or off the ball, and he plays a high IQ game.
In the next few years the physical freaks will win more MVPs — we can throw the future ones Anthony Davis rounds up in that group — but Curry is something unique.
Nobody is going to stop LeBron James; he remains the single best player walking the face of the earth. After his mid-season hiatus, he has played like it.
But the Chicago Bulls have the second best one-on-one defender to throw at LeBron James in Jimmy Butler. (Kawhi Leonard gets the top spot.) Out on the perimeter, Butler can make life difficult for LeBron (again, as much as anyone can, LeBron shot 64 percent on contested shots in the first round).
The problem is LeBron is so strong he can post Butler up, and with a lot of LeBron at the four that could be trouble for the Bulls. The Cavs flexibility is key for them in this series.
There are a lot of great matchups to watch in the Clippers vs. Rockets second round matchup. The Clippers primarily used J.J. Redick on James Harden during the season, and it worked with Harden shooting just 38.5 percent. Will Trevor Ariza slow the hobbled Chris Paul? Then there is the question of how the Clippers deal with Josh Smith of the bench if he plays like he did in the Dallas series.
Then there is Dwight Howard vs. DeAndre Jordan.
That’s the one Jenna Corrado and I discuss in this latest PBT Extra. Howard missed all four regular season matchups between these teams and he certainly changes the dynamic. Plus, neither of these guys is used to being matched up on a big as athletic as they are. It will be fun.