The exploits of Golden State Warriors point guard Steph Curry are legendary, and the prevalence of advanced statistics in today’s NBA only highlight further the breadth and depth of his historic offensive prowess.
Points per game (ppg) are one thing, and Curry led the league in that category with 32. Three-point shots made are another, and Curry led the NBA there as well, burying 337 throughout the COVID-shortened season. The total was still good enough for fourth all time and projected out over a full 82 games, Curry would have made the second-most 3’s in NBA history. He holds the top spot currently, with 402.
But it was the clutch performances by the Golden State point guard that stood him up in 2020-21 as one of the most dangerous and accomplished offensive players of all time.
Across the regular season, Curry’s per-36 minutes scoring average was 33.7 ppg, according to NBA.com. That total put him second in the league behind only Udonis Haslem, of the Miami Heat, who played all of three minutes the entire year.
And as impressive Curry’s per-36 figure is, it pales in comparison to what the former MVP accomplished during fourth quarters this season. Curry poured in an unheard of 43.1 ppg every 36 fourth-quarter minutes he played, leading the NBA in that category.
During those fourth-quarter minutes, Curry also shot nearly 50% from the field, nearly 47% from behind the arc, grabbed 6.8 rebounds, dished out 4.1 assists, and tallied 1.8 steals.
Quarter by Quarter, Curry’s Historic Offensive Season is Steeped in Context
There are a host of numbers that highlight Curry’s greatness over the past season, but one of the more obscure marks he set in 2021 displays, perhaps as well as any other, the dominance the point guard achieved game-in and game-out.
During what turned out to be the Warriors’ final game of the year, an eventual 117-112 overtime loss to the Memphis Grizzlies in the NBA’s postseason play-in tournament, the broadcast team noted one of Curry’s more obscure accomplishments in 2021.
ESPN’s Doris Burke broke in after the second half with the statistic. For the season, the Warrior point guard averaged 11.4 points per quarter in the third stanza. That is the highest single-quarter scoring average that any NBA player has posted in any quarter for the last 30 years.
Traditional Stats Also Highlight Curry’s Offensive Greatness in 2021
The list of Curry’s offensive accomplishments continued to grow as the year went on.
The point guard became the Warriors’ all-time leading scorer in April, when he passed the legendary Wilt Chamberlain in a game against the Denver Nuggets.
Curry’s league-leading 32 ppg edged out the Washington Wizards’ Bradley Beal. It was Curry’s second NBA scoring title and his highest ppg total throughout his 12-year career. He was also only the second player in history to win the award at the age of 33 or older (Michael Jordan).
On his way to that mark, Curry set a number of records involving scoring and 3-point shooting. During 15 games in April, Curry drained a record 96 three-pointers, which is 14 more than any other player has hit in a single month in NBA history (James Harden).
Also in April, the Golden State point guard became the first NBA player to ever average 35 ppg while achieving shooting splits of 50% from the field, 40% from downtown, and 90% from the free-throw line over the course of an entire month.