Stephen Curry is on his way to becoming one of the greatest Golden State Warriors in history. Over the summer, I ranked him #5 on the list of top 10 Warriors of the last 25 years, behind Baron Davis, Mitch Richmond, Tim Hardaway and Chris Mullin.
His work this season on a playoff-bound Warriors team (no jinx) moves him in front of Davis and Richmond. That leaves Curry and Hardaway as the greatest guards in the history of the Warriors, ahead of Sleepy Floyd and Guy Rodgers, but behind non-guards like Chris Mullin, Rick Barry, Nate Thurmond and Wilt Chamberlain.
With Curry taking his game to an elite level, this may be the last season we can have the Curry versus Hardaway argument before the baby-faced one seals it.
Curry started his career much slower than Hardaway due to ankle injuries and a messed up team. But for the last season-and-a-half, he’s averaged 23 points and eight assists with nearly four rebounds and two steals. He performed on par with those numbers in 12 playoff games last season.
I’m not ready to crown Curry the Warriors greatest guard ever yet. But if he maintains his play to finish the regular season and has a playoff run at an elite level to get the Warriors at least into the second round – he just might do it.
What say you? Has Curry surpassed Hardaway in your mind? Are you too young to have ever seen Hardaway? Here’s a quick lesson from last summer’s article:
The term “killer crossover” was coined for Tim Hardaway.
Lightning quick with a knuckleball jumper that always dropped when the Warriors needed a big shot, Hardaway had a three-year run where he averaged 22.9 points (48% FG) and 9.7 assists, 23.4 points (46% FG) and 10 assists, and 21.5 points (45% FG) and 10.6 assists.
He was a predator on the basketball court. Crouching low with an intense stare, sweat dripping from his forehead as he the scanned the court and hypnotized opponents with a slow steady dribble. Either lulled to sleep or nervous from anticipation, he’d strike you with his killer cross so fast and intense that it left you immobile. Next, he’d attack the rim and either finish or find an open teammate for an easy basket. Or if he had you back peddling, he’d pull-up for that ugly jumper.
After just four seasons, a devastating knee injury ruined one of the greatest starts to an NBA career (Hardaway reached 5,000 points and 2,500 assists faster than any other NBA player except Oscar Robertson). He missed the entire 1993-94 season, then played just 62 and 52 games in his final two Warriors seasons. He was traded for Bimbo Coles and an old Kevin Willis.
Read that last sentence again. Yeah, I’m cussing too.
While never the same player, despite losing a step, Hardaway resurrected his career in Miami and had several excellent seasons.
In seven seasons with the Warriors (six when you take out 93-94), Hardaway averaged 19.8 points (46% FG, 36% 3FG), 9.3 assists and 3.6 rebounds. He helped lead the Warriors to the playoffs during his second and third seasons, averaging 25 points, 10 assists and 3.7 rebounds in 13 games.
He was amazing in his first playoff appearances, averaging 25.2 points (49% FG) and 11.2 assists in 1991 as the Warriors beat the Spurs before Hardaway gave Magic Johnson and the Lakers everything they had in round two.
He and Mullin led the Warriors to 55 wins in 1991-92, but disappointingly lost 3-1 to Seattle in the first round as Shawn Kemp basically owned Alton Lister and Warriors fans everywhere threw household items against the wall. Hardaway averaged 24.5 points, but shot just 40% with 7.3 assists.
He was an All-Star in 1991, 92 and 93 and made All-NBA twice as a Warrior.