Stephen Curry, Warriors, point guard
Season stats: 35.8 minutes, 16.0 points, 4.2 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.8 steals, 3.02 turnovers, percentages (.454, .414, .879)
March stats: 39.7 minutes, 18.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 1.5 steals, 4.3 turnovers, percentages (.404, .447, .929)
Thursday’s game (Trail Blazers 110, Warriors 105): 33 minutes, 15 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 4 turnovers, (6-15, 2-7, 1-1)
Next game: Saturday, March 13, vs. Toronto Raptors, 7:30 p.m.
Tyreke Evans, Kings, guard
Season stats: 37.2 minutes, 20.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1.48 steals, 2.87 turnovers, percentages (.462, .254, .743)
March stats: 38.3 minutes, 19.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 1.3 steals, 2.7 turnovers, percentages (.423, .231, .634)
Thursday’s game: Did not play
Next game: Friday, March 12, vs. Portland Trail Blazers, 7 p.m.
Worth noting: I don’t know that this is that much of a competition anymore. Evans just had his first triple-double Wednesday (19 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists in a 113-90 win against the Toronto Raptors) and is having a better month in March than Curry. In order for Curry to overtake the big guard from Sacramento, he needed to keep playing well combined with a decline from Evans. It’s just not happening.
Evans is really good. No Warriors fan should disparage him to make Curry look better. Evans deserves this award and is a really good player (not to mention a fun rival for Curry for the rest of their careers). The crazy thing about Evans is he still has so much to improve. He’s not a great defender, he lacks a consistent jumpshot and he has no 3-point range. If Evans can improve those three elements of his game, he goes from a nice player to an all-NBA caliber star.
Curry is a more complete player at this point in his career than Evans, at least on offense, where it’s hard to find a weakness. He can score from any spot on the floor; he’s as comfortable spotting up for a fastbreak 3-pointer as he is breaking down a defense and scoring at the rim. He has excellent court vision and can run an offense at a level beyond what you would expect from a player his age. The improvement we’ll see in Curry during the next few seasons will be in his understanding of the game, including tendencies of opposing team and individual defenses. The game will continue to slow down for him, allowing him to make better decisions more consistently.
On defense, Curry has much more room for improvement. He’s a decent rebounder for his position and size, but he can improve in that area. His individual defense is the weakest part of his game, and I sometimes wonder if it’s a matter of ability or effort. In Thursday’s game, especially during the first half, Curry was horrible trying to guard Andre Miller. Miller met no resistance in his drives to the basket, which is curious (the fact that Miller couldn’t hit his open layup attempts was no saving grace for Curry). Curry has the speed to stay in front of Miller and impede his drives to the basket, but he failed to do it. If you ask me, that’s an effort issue. If Miller had been taking entry passes and posting up and scoring against Curry, that would be understandable. Miller is bigger than Curry and is one of the craftier post-up guards in the game. But for Curry to be beaten off the dribble so often against Miller doesn’t make sense.
On an unrelated note, New Orleans’ rookie point guard Darren Collison vacated his tenuous position on this list with a poor performance Wednesday against Oklahoma City (8 points, 9 assists, 3-14 FG). He’s a good player, but he has no chance of catching Evans or Curry in this race.