Stephen Curry won Most Valuable Player in 2015.
He received Most Improved Player votes in 2016.
But Curry was playing great. He deserved both his MVPs, and his 2016 was one of the greatest offensive seasons ever. His combination of 32.6% usage/66.9% true shooting remains unprecedented.
And he might be even better now?
Golden State coach Steve Kerr, via NBC Sports Bay Area:
“To me, he’s at his peak physically, mentally,” Kerr told reporters after practice. “He’s seen every defense that people have thrown at him now during his career, and he’s ready to have a great year.
“He’s in his prime age wise, strength and conditioning wise, and defensively he’s seen everything that’s come his way. Teams have played him every possible way that you could think of, and he’s had years now to work on counters.
“So he’s kind of in his sweet spot right now, and he has been the last couple years. And hopefully that continues for the next few years. But he’s an amazing player.”
This is high praise for a player already so accomplished. But Kerr might be right. At 31, Curry could have the just-right mix of near-peak athleticism with an advanced understanding of the game.
Curry took a backseat to Durant the last few years, leaving Curry underappreciated. When Durant got hurt last postseason, Curry showed off his incredible individual talent. With Durant gone and Klay Thompson hurt, the Warriors will need more of that.
Maybe the Warriors won’t press too hard with their championship chances significantly reduced. This could be a reset season. Perhaps, Curry will minimize the wear and tear, preserving himself for a better title-contention window.
But if Curry is pushing himself hard – to get Golden State into the playoffs, to win MVP, to shape his legacy or any of the preceding – this could be a special year for him.