Last night at Madison Square Garden, Steph Curry — the greatest shooter ever, a player who irrevocably changed basketball simply by playing it in the way that best suits him and his unfathomable gifts — did a little legacy cementing. In front of previous record holders Ray Allen and Reggie Miller, his family and teammates, a packed house, God, and basketball fans the world over, Curry moved into first place in all-time three-pointers made.
As so often happens when a record is broken, discussions about Greatest of All-Time have had new life breathed into them and the arrangement of faces on the NBA Mt. Rushmore was reconsidered and reshuffled. Where you put Curry on your personal list of GOAT is your business. As for the man of the evening, I’ll say this: Living in Oakland as Steph Curry and the Warriors blossomed into the generational marvel that they’ve become was a basketball gift that I had no business being given. I’ve never lived through a city falling in love with a player the way The Town rocks with Steph, and it’s hard to imagine — even as I type this in Giannis Antetokounmpo’s backyard — that I ever will again. Oakland’s affection for Steph is omnipresent, foundational. Curry is to the Bay what oxygen is to air. You see murals of him through the windows of zipping BART cars and read his name between the shoulder blades of kids and adults, men and women, hoopers and civilians. For years I played rec ball in a pair UA Curry 2s that I bought off a friend with Warriors ink on his elbow. The community center next to my Oakland apartment where I did a little coaching and played pickup until the small hours was refurbished by Curry’s foundation in 2017. His likeness is on every wall and his initials sit squarely at center court, the spot they’ll reside forever. He was, and is still, everywhere and for everyone. Essentially all of my California years have been Curry years, and after living in that glow, I can testify that those days are indeed Golden.
So, if you’re asking me now, my answer is that Steph Curry is the best player I’ve ever watched with my own two eyes.
Congrats to Curry and to the Bay. Chase Center will be rocking when he and the Ws come home.
Here’s the rest of the non-record-breaking stuff I saw on a historic Tuesday night in the NBA…
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Thirty-burgers are normally good enough to jump into the conversation for the lede player for me. Last night wasn’t a normal night, as FVV was not just overshadowed by Steph’s history-making evening across town, but Freddy also only managed the second-best 30-point performance in Brooklyn. Tough night.
In case you were feeling jumpy about the goose egg for steals and blocks: Before the Brooklyn game, the last time Barnes didn’t record a defensive stat was November 24. Oh, and two nights ago he swatted away five shots. A top 60-player on the year, if you’re rostering him there’s not a single thing to complain about here.
I keep waiting for it to get better and this is a step in that direction. Still, the usage is below where it has been in seasons past and the production has dipped in more than half the categories that we care about. He’s still a top-90 player and last night’s game was a good one, so things definitely could be worse. That said, the former glory hasn’t returned just yet.
Started against a shorthanded and undersized Nets group, but he’s not exactly killing it. Boucher is useful as long as there are so many Raptors bigs on the sidelines. Once that changes, things might get dicey again.
Gary Trent Jr.
It looked like GTJ was feeling himself and jawing with KD a bit out there. Look, I get it. If I were banging in six triples and turning in a top-25 fantasy season, you’d be hearing from me too. Unfortunately, that Durant guy also had something to say in an OT win for Brooklyn.
See what I mean? Durant, another all-time great that I’ve seen with my own two eyes, was questionable coming into this one with an ankle injury. Forty-eight minutes and a 30-piece triple-double later? He looked alright. And if you thought we were done with 30-point performances in this game, buddy, I’ve got news for you…
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Mills played a ton of minutes (43) and rewarded Coach Nash with huge makes in a competitive OT contest where Brooklyn only went eight-deep. The missed free throw opened the door for Scottie’s heave to cause some worry, but Patty’s misfire ultimately went unpunished. Mills has a three-point stroke that makes him a candidate to occasionally go off, and those chances only improve with James Harden entering Covid protocols on Tuesday.
No joke, LMA has also gotten tangled in the league’s health and safety protocols, opening the door for Claxton to contribute in his stead. There’s no way to guarantee minutes — last night’s 26 were the most he’s logged since returning to the rotation — but Claxton and the Nets could play three more times this week. There’s streamer potential here at the very least.
David Duke Jr.
I can’t believe there’s a guy named David Duke playing in the NBA. Anyway, the minutes — all 37 of them — had to go somewhere.
Not only did Nash only play eight over 53 minutes, none of Nic Claxton, Cam Thomas, or Day’Ron Sharpe played more than 26 minutes. Brooklyn is doing a pretty good impression of a team struggling with clearing Covid protocols — they’ve got seven disqualified players at the time of writing — so check to make sure they’re not looking at postponements before running out to waiver wire here.
Another Dray day.
Just outside of the top-100 on the season, Wiggins has faded just a bit over the last few weeks. Considering the depth the Warriors enjoy even without Thompson, it’s hard to be terribly rosy about Maple Jordan’s ROS outlook. He’s never been a top-75 contributor.
The bounty of free throws and cache of boards saved Poole’s night. The steals and shooting — trips in particular — are normally better than this. Klay’s return will take a bite out of his production, but Jordan’s not going to turn into pumpkin upon his return either. Keep plugging away with the top-70 player.
Hit some deeeeep threes on a perfect night from the field and then clanked two free throws. Nick Van Exel, your phone is ringing.
The Knicks have been on my TV a lot this season, maybe more than ever before. I’ve seen (and written about) Randle’s 3-point woes plenty this year, but this was a good night. Only 2,420 three-pointers behind Curry! He scored 12 in the third quarter and then 13 more in the fourth, propping up a mundane first-half line. Let’s see if being a witness to history gets the big man going.
In 38 minutes. The combination of Thibs’ tendency for leaning on His Guys and Burks’ tendency for shooting through cold streaks will certainly churn out nights like this on occasion. You just can’t say no to a player getting this fat on minutes though. If you’ve got him, play him. Better times ahead.
Continues to start and outplay Mitchell Robinson. I’m forced to hold MRob in the RazzJam, so I’m long on him be default. Redraft leagues? It should be safe to move on from Robinson if you haven’t already. As for Noel, the value lies in the D-stats. If that’s what you’re into, well, ’tis the season.
Rose started, played 13 more minutes, and scored much more efficiently than IQ tonight. I’d still try to hold onto Quickley (21 MP) if you can because Fournier (28 minutes and the start) is circling the drain.
I don’t know if every one of his 10 buckets tonight was a fall-away 10-footer off the bounce, but it sure did feel like I’d seen CP hit every one of those jumpers before. As per usual, Paul is outproducing his ADP. The health, at least for now, is holding up too.
Evidently, Ayton lost 10 pounds over the course of his recent flu bout that had him sidelined for the last two contests. Despite his diminished physique, JaVale McGee was in foul trouble and Monty Williams didn’t have a ton of other options at his disposal to corral the Bosnian Bear. The extended burn (45 MP!) and elite efficiency propelled Ayton to his highest-scoring game of the season. Not to sound too needy and ungrateful, but what about those blocks, DA?
Devin Booker’s balky hamstring is keeping the young star off the court, opening the door for Cam & Cam to contribute. Both played 30+ minutes off the bench and chipped in nicely. CP played 41 minutes on night two of a back-to-back, so we could see a little more of Payne over the rest of the week when two middling teams from the Eastern Conference come to town.
The fifth 30-point outing on the night, Lillard’s efficiency in getting his was a level below the rest of his peers. He gets full marks for heart and guts though, as he’s on a bit of an island out there in Portland and he’s absolutely playing hurt. I don’t know what’s going to help with his injury other than time off, and the NBA calendar is unrelenting. The Blazers haven’t won a game in the month of December.
The scoring is up — Powell has scored 20+ in three of his last four — which is good. Unfortunately, there really isn’t much else here right now. Norm is outside of the top-100 on the season and hasn’t gotten anywhere near it over the last two weeks.
A bounce back following a dud against the Wolves, Nurk is also not immune to the Blazer malaise. Despite turning in top-75 value, there are 25 other centers providing better numbers than Jusuf. The vibes are so off up in Portland.
Larry Nance Jr.
Nance started and played 27 minutes, but it was Covington who finished the game and saw more time (36 MP). Both were a headache to roster before the starter shake-up, and the move to a more equitable split doesn’t help fantasy players pick one or the other. If you’re not invested, I wouldn’t bother. If you are invested, I dunno, maybe we can put together a support group or something?