Stephen Curry's 3-point shooting is defying comparison
When he dribbles, an impatient hush falls over the crowd — whether his hometown faithful at Oracle Arena or soon-to-be Curry converts on the road. With a simple flick of the wrist, he requests silence, eyes following the arc of his three-point attempt until it swishes through the net and produces a sound no instrument could replicate.
You wouldn't think leather rubbing against nylon could generate a noise that permeates through the chatter of an NBA arena. But when Curry shoots the ball, it does.
SEE ALSO: Draymond Green and Kevin Hart star in latest Foot Locker spot
No other hand motion in the NBA has nearly this much power. He alone creates this type of pregnant pause — thousands of people not just hoping for a successful attempt from beyond the arc, but actually expecting each try to find twine.
Curry is taking 10.7 three-pointers per game this season — two more than 2003-04 Baron Davis and everyone else in NBA history — and he's still connecting at a 45.3 percent clip. No other player in the top 100 for attempts per game throughout NBA history has been this accurate, and he's sandwiched between ... 2012-13 Curry and 2014-15 Curry.
The result of this historic combination of volume and accuracy is a yawning chasm between himself and everyone else in the league:
Thanks to games like his 11-triple performance against the Washington Wizards, highlighted by seven in the opening quarter, he's made 233 on the season. That's 77 more that anyone else in the league, and, as of Feb. 8, only 46 players have even connected on 77 during the current campaign.
Frankly, we just can't compare him to current players.
The only fair matchups are between him and sharpshooters who have already completed previous campaigns. He's already at No. 10 on the all-time single-season leaderboard, and we're not even at the All-Star break. Plus, he's occupying three of the nine slots above his current exploits.
In his first 48 games, the reigning MVP has connected on more treys than anyone else has in a full season, except for Ray Allen, Dennis Scott, George McCloud, Jason Richardson, Peja Stojakovic and Klay Thompson. If you so desire, you can even cross off Scott and McCloud, since they both hit their marks while the NBA was experimenting with a shortened arc in 1995-96.
By the time the Warriors begin preparing for their title defense in the Western Conference playoffs, Curry will have shattered his own mark. If he plays in each of the team's remaining games and continues at his current pace, he'll finish the year with a mind-numbing 388 triples — breaking his own record by 102.
At that pace, Curry will set the new record against the Los Angeles Lakers on March 6. Reminder: The Warriors play their final game of the regular season one month and seven days after that matchup.
It's become abundantly clear that comparing Curry to his contemporaries is a mistake. Soon, nothing will be left except for the lengthy pursuit of Ray Allen's career record: 2,973 three-pointers.
Despite the heroics that have established him as the prohibitive favorite to earn back-to-back MVPs, he's too young to have moved up toward the very top of the lifelong leaderboard. Volume is required in that pursuit, and his 1,424 treys sit behind 25 totals throughout NBA history, leaving him sandwiched between Michael Finley (1,454) and Brent Barry (1,395).
Still, it's inordinately impressive that he's already so high up before celebrating his 28th birthday. As his career continues to progress, Curry will keep moving up the list while defenders struggle to slow him down, and it already feels inevitable that he'll eventually surpass Allen for the top spot.
The question is no longer an "if." It's a "when."
Should Curry continue at the inhuman pace he's set this season, it'll take him just 320 games to establish a new record. Even if we assume he plays just 70 contests each year, that puts him on track to get there early in the 2020-21 campaign.
Maybe that pace is aggressive, though.
If we dial things down to his career average of 3.07 triples per game, it would take him 504 outings to break the record, which likely puts the night of celebration sometime during the 2022-23 season. At that point, Curry would still be just 34 years old.
On the flip side, what if he's not done improving? Inconceivable as that may seem, it was already tough to imagine him reaching this current level after setting the single-season mark in 2012-13 and breaking his own record two years later.
While Allen's career progressed in fairly linear fashion, Curry's three-point total is growing in seemingly exponential fashion. Already, the Golden State 1-guard has 294 more triples than anyone in NBA history has produced throughout the first seven seasons of a career, and his seventh year is still very much in progress.
Somehow, this growth means the two best-ever paths are quickly diverging, to the point that the Dubs floor general could move past his predecessor before 2020.
It seems impossible. Allen's career from downtown was so special that it should be impossible.
But this is Curry we're talking about. Doubting him is no longer an option.
Follow Adam Fromal on Twitter @fromal09.
Ranking all 32 NBA court designs