Scott Fowler

Stephen Curry should be NBA MVP, and close to being Charlotte’s best pro athlete

Golden State’s Stephen Curry, a former Davidson star, smiles from the bench in April during the Warriors’ 12th straight victory.
Golden State’s Stephen Curry, a former Davidson star, smiles from the bench in April during the Warriors’ 12th straight victory. AP

Stephen Curry should be voted the NBA's Most Valuable Player this season.

That's not hometown bias talking. I don't have a vote, but if I did I would vote for Curry even if he hailed from Charlotte, Iowa, rather than Charlotte, N.C.

Curry is the best player for Golden State, and the Warriors have been the NBA's best team by a mile this season. He is the league's best pure shooter. He has had his best season. He should win not because he made 77 straight three-pointers in practice Tuesday – a personal record for Curry and an almost unfathomable number -- but because he is far more than a one-trick pony who also ranks among NBA leaders in assists and steals.

The MVP award, voted upon by approximately 120 media members who cover the NBA, is based on regular-season performance but usually not announced until early May. If Curry wins it, he arguably could be called the best pro athlete to have ever come from the greater Charlotte area.

I would still vote for Dale Earnhardt in that category. Seven NASCAR season championships trump one individual MVP. But Curry is already in that conversation, and one day he may lead it.

Houston's James Harden, Cleveland's LeBron James and Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook comprise the primary MVP competition for Curry. Harden has had an extraordinary statistical season, guiding a Rockets team decimated by injury to a high playoff seed. LeBron left Miami for Cleveland, which ultimately meant the Heat didn't even make the postseason and the Cavaliers will be the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Westbrook has been a gaudy triple-double machine.

All are worthy candidates, but to me Curry's season has surpassed them all. He could lead the league in scoring if that was his goal, but instead he has kept all of his Golden State teammates involved and happy while still breaking his own NBA record for most three-pointers in a season.

And he often goes from the ridiculous to the sublime on the same night.

An example: Curry went 17-for-23 from the field in a 45-point outing earlier this month. But his teammates raved afterward about how many times he passed the ball in that game to Klay Thompson, who had been struggling with his shot and needed a confidence boost.

“He deferred!” Warrior teammate Draymond Green kept saying about Curry afterward, marveling at the unselfishness. “He deferred!”

A 27-year-old former star at Charlotte Christian and Davidson – he led the Wildcats to the Elite Eight as a sophomore in 2008 – Curry has cut down on his turnovers this season at point guard while making the best basketball decisions of his life. His coach, Steve Kerr, told me in an interview earlier this season about Curry: “He's always been a high-risk, high-reward player. ... He's become a low-risk, high-reward player. ... He's really walked that line perfectly between ‘attack’ and ‘manage’ and it's been beautiful to watch.”

Of course, there's no guarantee that the Warriors will win the NBA title this season. The Western Conference is a minefield.

And if you were starting a team with one guy, you would still have to go with LeBron. He does certain things athletically that Curry just can't do.

But this season, Curry has been the NBA's most valuable player.

Watching Curry shoot off the dribble remains one of sport's singular pleasures, but it's more than that. He is a complete point guard. His shooting is not a gimmick, but a tool he uses to make his team better.

This is his moment. And he deserves it.

Fowler: sfowler@charlotteobserver.com; Twitter: @scott_fowler

A DASH OF CURRY

A look at some of Stephen Curry's MVP-worthy numbers for the 2014-15 season with Golden State (through Tuesday night's games).

▪ Points: 23.9 per game (sixth in NBA)

▪ Assists: 7.7 per game (sixth)

▪ Steals: 2.0 per game (fourth)

▪ Free throw pct.: 91.4 (first)

▪ 3-pointers: 284 for season (first all-time, breaks his own record)

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