Stephen Curry's 2015-16 unanimous-MVP season occupies an almost mythical place in NBA history. It's hard to put into words how unbelievable he was that year. It was more than the numbers, which were brain-exploding. It was the whole experience. The shots he made with regularity, with an almost arrogant ease, shots that weren't yet conceived of by anyone else, made for a moment in history that many, myself included, felt would never be repeated.
But more than a quarter of the way into the 2022-23 season, Curry is pushing his own limits. There's still a long way to go, obviously, but entering play on Monday night, he is putting up virtually identical numbers to the ones he authored during Golden State's run to a record 73 wins.
If anything, Curry's numbers, so far, are actually better than they were in 2015-16, when he made an NBA record 402 3-pointers at that ludicrous 45-percent clip. He'll have a tough time topping that 402 mark this season, because he's unlikely to play in as many games. He's already missed two, putting him on pace to play between 74-75 this season, compared to the 79 games he played in 2015-16.
At that rate, Curry would finish this season with somewhere around 390 mades 3s. That's not far away from 402. He'll likely play fewer games this season, yes, but the way he's shooting it and the crunch Golden State figures to be in as the season plays out make for at least a plausible scenario in which he goes nuts enough to surpass what has long seemed like an unbreakable record.
Fact is, Curry has been better pretty much across the statistical board from 2015-16. His assist percentage is slightly up. Turnover percentage slightly down. Rebounding way up. Defense significantly better. Free-throw rate and percentage equal. Finishing at the rim, in the paint, midrange efficiency, all appreciably up. With 51-44-90 current shooting splits, Curry is tracking to join Steve Nash and Larry Bird as the only players in history to register multiple 50-40-90 seasons, with the other, of course, coming in 2015-16.
The only thing that's down from that 2015-16 assault on the NBA record book is Golden State's win total, and the nightly theatrics that came with it, but that could be changing. The Warriors are starting to find their stride. On Saturday, Curry and Andrew Wiggins became just the third teammates in history to both make at least eight 3-pointers in the same game. Klay Thompson is having more and more games that remind you of the shooter he once was, and perhaps can still be. Draymond Green is doing his thing. Jordan Poole has made 12 of his last 21 3s. Anthony Lamb is making a difference. Ditto for Jonathan Kuminga and Donte DiVincenzo, who has the makings of a potential second-unit stabilizer. Kevon Looney is a rock.
The point is, Curry isn't going to be going at this virtually alone forever. The Warriors have won five of their last six, and as they start to climb in the standings, so too will Curry in the race for his third MVP.