Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors got back to their winning ways on Wednesday night and then some, dismantling the Phoenix Suns to run their league-best record to 25–1. For much of the night, Curry took a backseat to his fellow Splash Brother, Klay Thompson, who dropped 43 points, and Draymond Green, who posted his fourth triple-double of the season.
The box score, though, rarely does justice to Steph’s preposterous playmaking and freakish ability to put the ball in the basket from almost anywhere on the floor. Fortunately, though, Slate is running a Steph Curry Spiciness Index after Warriors’ games to help readers who don’t have NBA League Pass (or who can’t watch late-night West Coast basketball) relive Curry’s latest play-of-the-night and see how it shapes up against a rolling list of his top five from what’s already proven to be a magical season. Without further ado, then, here’s Curry’s latest wizardry:
Dec. 16, 2015 at home
Final Score: Warriors 128, Suns 103
Thompson and Curry combined for 68 points through the first three quarters (outscoring the entire Suns squad by three points during that stretch). Despite contributing fewer of those points than Thompson, Curry still managed to find his way into the highlight reel more than once, including a third-quarter rainbow runner after taking a through-the-legs pass in stride. For my money, though, Curry’s best play came late in the first half with the game still close. As the Dubs caught the Suns getting back slow on defense, Curry drew two defenders and then, after going behind his back, casually flipped a pin-point, no-look pass to a trailing Klay for the wide-open three. Swish.
Verdict: Pretty, but not nearly pretty enough to crack our running top five. Here is the current canon:
5) Dec. 3, 2015 at the Charlotte Hornets
Final Score: Warriors 116, Hornets 99
On a night when the home team was honoring Dell Curry, it was the former sharpshooter’s eldest son who stole the show. Curry exploded for 28 points in the third quarter, scoring his team’s final two-dozen points in the period and hitting 10 of 11 field goals and all five of his three-point attempts, including this buzzer-beating, long-range bomb. Like a few of the top five—and a countless number of his made buckets this season—this would have been a dumb shot for anyone but Curry.
4) Dec. 8, 2015 at the Indiana Pacers
Final Score: Warriors 131, Pacers 123
Curry can put the ball in the bucket from almost anywhere on the court, but he also has an uncanny ability to get his teammates easy looks at the hoop with what seems like impossible vision and anticipation. Against the Pacers, Curry flashed to the free-throw line to receive the pass and then, as two defenders converged on him, he took a single dribble with his left hand before flipping a right-handed lob over his head to an uncovered Andrew Bogut for the easy two. What the what?
3) Nov. 20, 2015 at home
Final Score: Warriors 106, Bulls 94
There were a couple contenders in this game. After losing control of the ball late in the first, Steph wrestled it away from Bulls’ big man Joakim Noah and chucked a perfect one-handed lob from well outside the three-point line to a streaking Andre Iguodala for the slam. This would be a season highlight for anyone else. But it wasn’t even his play of the game. In addition to his three-point acumen, Curry has turned himself into a close-range assassin as well. Here he takes the ball hard to the hoop after making Kirk Hinrich look silly with a between-the-legs-behind-the-back work of ballhandling art.
2) Nov. 11, 2015 at the Memphis Grizzlies
Final score: Warriors 100, Grizzlies 84.
Late in the third quarter, Steph stole an entry pass on the defensive end, raced across half court, and—falling forward after being bumped—launched a circus shot from 29-feet in an effort to draw the foul. He didn’t get the call. His one-handed prayer, though, found the backboard on its way through the hoop. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, but it’s always better to be both.
1) Nov. 11, 2015 at the Memphis Grizzlies
Final score: Warriors 100, Grizzlies 84.
There were actually two inconceivably great plays in this game: The circus shot may have been more visually stunning, but this one was more impressive. With time running out in the third quarter, Curry deflected another entry pass and corralled the ball with less than four seconds to play. Three dribbles later—and with a fraction of a second on the clock—Curry pulled up for what would have been a heave for an average player but in his hands looked almost as smooth as a regular jumper. The Grizzles play-by-play man summed up our current expectations around the reigning MVP perfectly. “Good if it goes,” announcer Pete Pranica said in a tone that suggested this would be a totally reasonable outcome for a 40-foot buzzer beater. “And of course it does.”