Warriors point guard Stephen Curry was named NBA Western Conference Rookie of the Month for March. Curry was also named rookie of the month in January.
Curry played in 14 games in March, averaging 19.8 points, 7.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.79 steals in 37.5 minutes per game. Curry shot 46.1 percent (106-230) from the field, 50 percent (40-80) from three-point range and 92.6 percent (25-27) from the line.
Not much to gripe about there other than the low number of free throws. Curry averaged only 1.9 free throw attempts per game. I’ve said it before: Curry needs to boost that number to at least five per game. Part of it is lack of respect from the officials, but part of it is also that Curry doesn’t attack the basket enough and when he does, he tends to avoid contact in order to make the basket. That’s understandable, considering Curry’s shooting ability, but he still needs to branch out from the jump shot a little more.
I don’t understand why so many people have handed this award to Evans already without giving any thoughtful consideration to Curry. If you only look at the season stats, Evans is the winner. But Curry has won two of these honors now (January and March), the same number as Evans (November and December). You can’t give the edge to Evans because of his team; the Kings aren’t much better than the Warriors. And the two players’ stats aren’t that disimilar. I’ve read so many people write that though Curry has been the best rookie for the past couple months, Evans got out to such a big lead early in the season that the award is his. I don’t agree with that argument. If Kobe Bryant started out really well the first two months, but LeBron James outplayed him the final four months of the season, would Bryant deserve the MVP? No, it would go to LeBron. Why is it different for this award?
I’m not taking anything away from Evans. If he won, I wouldn’t disagree with the decision; his stats are better, and he is a great player, certainly deserving of the award. However, if Evans was the better rookie for the first two months, but Curry ends up being the better rookie for the final four months of the season (assuming he outplays Evans in April), why should the award automatically go to Evans?
Again, here are the two players’ vital stats:
Games: Curry 72, Evans 66
Minutes: Evans 37.4, Curry 35.8
Points: Evans 20.2, Curry 16.5
Assists: Evans 5.8, Curry 5.7
Rebounds: Evans 5.2, Curry 4.2
Steals: Curry 1.82, Evans 1.52
Turnovers: Evans 2.97, Curry 3.04
Field goal attempts: Evans 16.0, Curry 13.6
Field goal percentage: Curry .461, Evans .459
3-point attempts: Curry 4.5, Evans 2.0
3-point percentage: Curry .431, Evans .260
Free throw attempts: Evans 6.6, Curry 2.3
Free throw percentage: Curry .883, Evans .748
PER: Evans 18.44, Curry 15.31
Plus/Minus: Curry -2.27/game; Evans -4.35/game
In 15 meaningful categories (I think too many of the voters are looking at scoring, rebounds and assists only), Curry is the leader in 7, Evans in 8. The way I see it, this race should still be wide open and the player who wins the final month of the season should win the award. I don’t think it will happen that way, I think most voters have already mentally checked the box for Evans. But this is a closer race than the way most are describing.