Hey, did you know the Warriors are 22-0? That’s pretty good!
Their historic start has also made it a little more difficult to come up with angles on this team. I know, boo freaking hoo. Yet they still deserve attention, and probably more posts than I’ve produced since the season started. However, unlike my friend Ann Killion, I’m not going to call for the streak to end ASAP for the mental and physical betterment of the squad. The early part of an NBA schedule has never been this entertaining … and nerve-wracking, at times.
We all know they’re fantastic. They either blow teams out or let them hang around before squashing them in the closing minutes. Their small lineup is beyond incredible, especially when Harrison Barnes is healthy, because all five guys can shoot threes, three of them can essentially play point guard whenever they like, and they have both the most versatile defender in the game (Draymond Green) and one of the league’s premier perimeter defenders (Andre Iguodala) leading their ball-hawking, chaos-inducing, switchtastic defensive attack.
They even have a backup center who’d start for more than half of the teams in the league, a backup point guard who might make the Clippers a true championship threat (since the Clips, as currently constructed, do not have a backup point guard), and … oh yeah, a top-five three-point shooter in Klay Thompson.
But it all comes back to Steph Curry, because he’s the comet everyone travels great distances to see, both during and well before games. He’s not only putting up otherworldly numbers with a ballet dancer’s grace, he’s the NBA’s joyful assassin. As the Warriors have progressed through this ridiculously long road trip, Curry answers every frisky opponent’s run with ludicrous three-point daggers. Just ask the Jazz, Raptors and Nets.
After Curry’s stupefying 28-point third quarter against the Hornets, which earned him a ticket to the bench for the entire fourth quarter, Bill Simmons spent a large portion of his Friday podcast discussing Curry’s historic start to the season (starting around the 36-minute mark).
“My theory here is this is the best 20-game stretch in the history of basketball,” Simmons said, and then he listed some Stephtistics.
— “He’s averaging 32, 6 and 5. The only person who’s ever done that for a whole season is Jordan in ’89-90.”
— “Nobody has ever made four threes per game in a season. He’s on pace to make five.”
— “He’s leading the league in points, field goals, field goal attempts, made threes, attempted threes, free throw percentage, PER, true shooting, win shares, and plus-minus, and he’s one steal behind Kyle Lowry for first place in steals.”
— “He’s averaging 33.6 points per game per 36 minutes … I was wondering how many times Jordan did that. Zero. I wonder how many times Kobe did that. Oh, zero. I wonder how many times this has happened ever. Only once, with Wilt in 1962, when Wilt averaged 50 a game.”
— “He’s made more threes than the Heat, the Timberwolves and the Nets.”
— “He has the highest PER ever, 35.1. Nobody’s ever got to 32.”
— “The Warriors are averaging 115.3 points a game. Nobody has approached that number since the 1992 Warriors.” (Note: the 1991-92 Warriors, who averaged 118.7 ppg, made 254 threes. Curry’s lowest total over the previous three seasons was 261 in 2013-14.)
— “We’ve played 20 games, he has four 40-point games and a 50-point game already.” (Note: Curry now has five 40-point games after scoring 44 points in Toronto on Saturday.)
— “He’s made at least eight threes in four games.”
(Note: Curry now has five 40-point games after scoring 44 points in Toronto on Saturday, and he made nine threes in that game.)
After listening to all of this, I decided to head over to Basketball-Reference to see if I could find some interesting statistics of my own. I didn’t come up with much beyond what Simmons noted (my apologies if Simmons got his stats from another source), but here’s what I found.
I put in a query to see who had surpassed 700 points, 100 rebounds and 100 assists in his first 22 games since the 1985-86 season (the first season Basketball-Reference was able to locate full game logs, instead of just points, field goals made and free throws). Here’s what came up.
- Michael Jordan (1987-88): 755 points, 113 rebounds, 150 assists, 888 minutes
- Michael Jordan (1988-89): 766 points, 178 rebounds, 128 assists, 909 minutes
- Michael Jordan (1989-90): 725 points, 175 rebounds, 146 assists, 852 minutes
- Stephen Curry (2015-16): 712 points, 108 rebounds, 128 assists, 755 minutes
That’s it. That’s the list. Again, this is since 1985-86, but three nuclear seasons from young MJ is pretty good company.
I also checked to see how many players scored 712 points in their first 22 games (32.4 ppg). It’s happened 14 times, including Curry this year. Jordan did it four times. Wilt Chamberlain was a three-time member of this group. Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, Tiny Archibald, Adrian Dantley and Allen Iverson did it once.
Who scored the most points in the history of the NBA over the first 22 games of a season? That would be Rick Barry, who scored 726 points in the first 22 games of the 1974-75 season (the Warriors’ last championship before they won in June) and 846 points in the first 22 games of the 1966-67 season. Barry scored at least 40 points in 11 of his first 20 games, including four in a row and seven of nine. His lowest points total was 27 in a 39-point win over the Lakers.
I’m getting off track, but Barry must have been incredible to watch in his second season (and throughout his prime).
There are two story lines going on with this Warriors team right now, since the playoffs are several months away. Obviously the streak is No. 1, since it’s the reason why the Warriors are the biggest story in North American sports. We’ll see how they do against the Pacers tonight. But close behind are these wild Stephtistics. The team seems to be on a mission to make everyone who hinted that they were “lucky” to win the title feel bad about themselves, and Curry is on a mission of his own to back up his MVP award by blowing away the entire field. Maybe the Warriors should thank James Harden.
Curry may not lead the league in minutes if he sits out a fourth quarter every week or two, but he’s certainly on his way to leading the league in points … he’s currently 2.1 ppg ahead of Harden. That’s just one of many stats to follow during this incredible season.