CANDIDATES

Stephen Curry, Warriors, point guard

Season stats: 35.6 minutes, 15.7 points, 5.3 assists, 4.2 rebounds, 1.83 steals, 2.88 turnovers, percentages (.460, .408, .875)
March stats: 43 minutes, 18 points, 8 assists, 2 rebounds, 2 steals, 3 turnovers, percentages (.412, .375, 1.000)
Tuesday’s game (Heat 110, Warriors 106): 43 minutes, 18 points, 2 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals, 3 turnovers (7-17, 3-8, 1-1)
Next game: Wednesday, March 3, at Orlando Magic, 4 p.m.

Tyreke Evans, Kings, guard

Season stats: 37.1 minutes, 20.5 points, 5.4 assists, 4.9 rebounds, 1.51 steals, 2.91 turnovers, percentages (.466, .255, .756)
March stats: 39 minutes, 27 points, 5 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, 4 turnovers, percentages (.412, .000, .765)
Tuesday’s game (Thunder 113, Kings 107): 39 minutes, 27 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 4 turnovers (7-17, 0-1, 13-17)
Next game: Wednesday, March 3, at Houston Rockets, 5:30 p.m.

Darren Collison, Hornets, guard

Season stats: 23.7 minutes, 10.4 points, 4.6 assists, 2.4 rebounds, 0.95 steals, 2.35 turnovers, percentages (.451, .333, .849)
March stats: 47 minutes, 10 points, 15 assists, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 turnovers, percentages (.417, .000, .000)
Tuesday’s game: Did not play
Next game: Wednesday, March 3, vs. Memphis Grizzlies, 5 p.m.

Catching up: Collison’s Monday line in a 106-92 loss to the Spurs: 47 minutes, 10 points, 5 rebounds, 15 assists, 2 steals, 2 turnovers. His shooting numbers: 5-12, 0-0, 0-1.

Worth noting: Evans won the day Tuesday, primarily because he shot 17 free throws. That is something that Evans has on Curry. Evans is averaging 6.71 free throw attempts per game, which when multiplied by his .756 free throw percentage, means Evans is getting 5.1 of his 20.5 points per game at the free-throw line (24.9 percent).

Curry, since he started playing starter’s minutes in December (which put him on equal footing with Evans), has averaged 2.54 free throw attempts; with his .875 percentage, Curry is getting 2.2 of his 18.0 points per game (his average since December) from the free throw line (12.2 percent). If Curry could increase his free throw attempts to Evans’ level, he would gain an additional 3.67 points per game to that 18-point average. Curry’s averages (again, since December) would then be 21.67 points, 4.7 rebounds and 5.4 assists.

To take his game to the next level, Curry has to get to the free throw line more, which requires a combination of attacking the basket more aggressively and gaining the respect of the referees. Curry can start the first part of that equation immediately. The second part, gaining the referees’ respect, might take some time. Also, the more Curry becomes a go-to player late in games, the more chances he’ll have to earn free-throw attempts. The best players in the NBA get most of their free throws in crunch time when they drive hard to the basket, expecting the officials to give them the benefit of the doubt (think Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, etc.).

Evans is approaching that kind of respect from the referees; Curry still has a long way to go to get there. Until he does, that remains a major advantage for Evans in this player debate.