Steph Curry’s Finals MVP-winning impact extended far beyond the realm of statistics. Here are five important numbers.
On Thursday night in Boston, Stephen Curry won his fourth NBA championship and received the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player award for the first time, completing his eventual Hall of Fame career.
As the Warriors celebrate their fourth title in eight seasons, we take a closer look at Curry’s most impressive Finals performance to date. Here are five important statistics about the Finals MVP:
1. First player in NBA Finals history to average 30-5-5 and make five 3-pointers.
Stephen Curry joined Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Jerry West as the only players in NBA history to average at least 30.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists in multiple NBA Finals.
Curry averaged 30.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 6.0 assists in the Warriors’ six-game loss to Toronto in the 2019 NBA Finals. Three years later, Curry again averaged 31.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists as Golden State defeated the Celtics in a six-game series.
2019: 30.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 6.0 apg (loss)
2022: 31.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 5.0 apg (win)
1991: 31.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 11.4 apg (win)
1993: 41.0 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 6.3 apg (win)
1997: 32.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 6.0 apg (win)
1966: 33.9 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 5.1 apg (loss)
1968: 31.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 5.7 apg (loss)
2015: 35.8 ppg, 13.3 rpg, 8.8 apg (loss)
2017: 33.6 ppg, 12.0 rpg, 10.0 apg (loss)
2018: 34.0 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 10.0 apg (loss)
As the first player in NBA history to average at least five 3-pointers per game in the NBA Finals, Curry adds another layer to this incredible stat line. He originally accomplished this in 2018, but this year he added 5.2 3-pointers to his already remarkable 30-5-5 to become the first player since the advent of the 3-point shot in 1979-80 to record a 30-5-5-5 Finals.
2. On-court/off-court offensive efficiency
Stephen Curry led all Finals scorers with 187 points and accounted for 29.7 percent of Golden State’s 629 total Finals points. To provide context for Curry’s production, the following five players are accountable for their team’s scoring output:
- Jaylen Brown: 141 of Boston’s 605 total points (23.3%)
- Jayson Tatum: 129 (21.3%)
- Andrew Wiggins: 110 (17.5%)
- Klay Thompson: 102 (16.2%)
- Marcus Smart: 91 (15.0%)
While on the court, Curry was responsible for 36 percent of Golden State’s points and 41.3 percent of their made 3-pointers. As we’ve discovered over the course of this Warriors dynasty, Curry’s influence on Golden State’s offense extends far beyond the points he scores. His sheer presence on the floor — his “gravity” — commands so much attention from the opposing defense that it makes the game simpler for his teammates by creating more space and scoring opportunities with a higher proportion of success.
During Curry’s 225 minutes on the court during the Finals, the Warriors’ offense scored 115.8 points per 100 possessions. Golden State’s offensive efficiency decreased to 88.6 points per 100 possessions in his absence for 109 minutes.
One final remark on Curry’s offensive effectiveness against the best defense in the NBA: Curry’s true shooting percentage of 62.6 is the highest in Finals history for a high-volume guard (minimum of 100 field goal attempts; 43 players qualify). When all positions are considered, Curry ranks eighth out of 86 qualified players.
|RANK||PLAYER||FINALS||TS%||FGM-A (FG%)||3PM-A (3P%)||FTM-A (FT%)|
|1||Stephen Curry||2022||62.6%||66-137 (48.2%)||31-71 (43.7%)||24-28 (85.7%)|
|2||Chris Paul||2021||62.2%||55-100 (55.0%)||12-23 (52.2%)||9-12 (75.0%)|
|3||Michael Jordan||1992||61.7%||81-154 (52.6%)||12-28 (42.9%)||41-46 (89.1%)|
|4||Dwyane Wade||2011||61.4%||59-108 (54.6%)||7-23 (30.4%)||34-49 (69.4%)|
|5||Michael Jordan||1991||61.2%||63-113 (55.8%)||2-4 (50.0%)||28-33 (84.8%)|
|6||Stephen Curry||2019||59.8%||53-128 (41.4%)||23-67 (34.3%)||54-57 (94.7%)|
|7||Magic Johnson||1987||59.0%||66-122 (54.1%)||1-2 (50.0%)||24-25 (96.0%)|
|8||Reggie Miller||2000||58.8%||43-104 (41.3%)||15-40 (37.5%)||45-46 (97.8%)|
|9||Stephen Curry||2015||58.5%||54-122 (44.3%)||25-65 (38.5%)||23-26 (88.5%)|
|10||Stephen Curry||2016||58.0%||50-124 (40.3%)||32-80 (40.0%)||26-28 (92.9%)|
Curry has now had four of the top ten true shooting percentages by a guard with at least 100 field goal attempts in the NBA Finals, but none higher than 2022.
3. Top 3-point shooting Finals display
Curry entered the 2022 NBA Finals with the record for most 3-pointers made in Finals history, having made 121 in 28 games. With the addition of these six games, he accumulated an additional 31 points, bringing his total to 152. Klay Thompson (105) and LeBron James (101) are the only other players in Finals history to have made at least 100 three-pointers.
Curry’s 31 3-pointers were the most in a six-game NBA Finals series; he eclipsed his own record (25) from the Warriors’ 2015 championship run, the first of this dynasty. In the 2022 NBA Finals, Jayson Tatum and Klay Thompson tied for the second-most three-pointers with 20 apiece.
Most 3s in a 6-game series, NBA Finals
- 31: Stephen Curry, Golden State, 2022
- 25: Stephen Curry, Golden State, 2015
- 24: Klay Thompson, Golden State, 2019
In Golden State’s 2016 seven-game loss to Cleveland, Curry came within one 3-pointer of matching his personal Finals record of 33 3-pointers.
While Curry made more 3-pointers overall in 2016 and more 3-pointers per game in 2018 (5.5) when the Warriors swept the Cavs, he has never shot a greater 3-point % than he did against Boston in 2022. Curry concluded the Finals shooting 31-for-71 (43.7 percent) from 3-point range, including his first postseason game with zero 3-pointers made – he shot 0-for-9 in Game 5 before rebounding to shoot 6-for-11 in the series-clinching game.
The greatest shooter of all time recently had his best shooting performance of his career in the NBA Finals, which helped him capture his first Finals MVP award.
4. Pull-up shooting
Curry is distinguished from other great 3-point shooters in NBA history by his ability to make 3-pointers while moving and while standing still. During the 2022 NBA Finals, Curry’s pull-up skill was on full show, as he topped all players with 36 such baskets, including 23 3-pointers.
No other player in this year’s NBA Finals made more than 13 pull-up jumpers in the series, and only five players reached double digits:
- Stephen Curry: 36-75 (48.0%)
- Jayson Tatum: 13-47 (27.7%)
- Klay Thompson: 13-38 (34.2%)
- Jaylen Brown: 12-31 (38.7%)
- Jordan Poole: 12-31 (38.7%)
The disparity from the rest of the field is similar when we focus solely on pull-up 3s:
- Stephen Curry: 23-55 (41.8%)
- Jayson Tatum: 10-23 (43.5%)
- Jordan Poole: 8-25 (32.0%)
- Klay Thompson: 4-13 (30.8%)
- Jaylen Brown: 4-9 (44.4%)
Curry shot 36-for-75 (48.0%) pull-ups in the NBA Finals and had an effective field goal percentage of 63.30%. All other Finals participants combined to shoot 68-for-210 (32.4 percent) and 39.8 percent effective field goal percentage.
Curry preserved his season’s greatest pull-up shooting until the NBA Finals. During the regular season, his field goal percentage was 39 percent, his 3-point percentage was 37.4 percent, and his pull-up field goal percentage was 52.5 percent. Curry placed 10th among the 96 players with at least 200 pull-up attempts in terms of effective field goal percentage.
During the first three rounds of the playoffs previous to the Finals, Curry had an effective field goal percentage of 53.7 percent on pull-ups, shooting 40.4% from the field and 33% from 3-point range. Curry placed eighth among the 48 players with at least 25 pull-up attempts in the first three rounds of the playoffs in terms of effective field goal percentage.
During the NBA Finals, Curry’s effective field goal % increased by an additional 10 percentage points, putting him roughly 12 percentage points ahead of the competition.
5. Dominant off screens and switches
Curry vs. Marcus Smart, who had just been voted the league’s Kia Defensive Player of the Year, was one of the more intriguing matchups entering the 2022 NBA Finals. When analyzing Curry’s offensive matchup data from the series, we find that Smart defended Curry for a team-high 27:50 minutes and did an excellent job of stifling Curry’s offensive production. Smart limited Curry to 25 points on 34.8 percent shooting from the field, including 25.0 percent from outside the arc, with six turnovers and six assists.
Curry was able to exploit matchups, though, as the Warriors used ball screens to remove Smart from Curry, forcing several substitutions. Curry made 18 shots against Derrick White, including eight 3-pointers, in just under 21 minutes. In just over seven minutes of competition with Al Horford, Curry made 15 shots, including nine of his 31 3-pointers.
|MATCH UP||MATCHUP MIN||PTS||AST||TOV||FGM||FG%||3PM||3P%||FTM|
|Robert Williams III||5:40||23||5||3||10||40.0||3||25.0||0|
Below is a game-by-game breakdown of the number of screens the Warriors set for Curry, as well as the Warriors’ points per possession on those possessions. In the six-game series, the Warriors set up 159 screens for Curry and averaged over 1.5 points per possession.
- Game 1: 30 screens, 1.23 PPP
- Game 2: 27 screens, 1.50 PPP
- Game 3: 30 screens, 1.30 PPP
- Game 4: 39 screens, 1.23 PPP
- Game 5: 37 screens, 1.39 PPP
- Game 6: 33 screens, 1.46 PPP
TOTAL: 159 screens, 1.35 PPP
Here is a game-by-game analysis of the number of times Curry was switched as the offensive ballhandler and the corresponding points per possession. In Game 4, Curry faced more substitutions than any other player in the series. And in the decisive Game 6, the Warriors scored at 1.44 points per possession when Curry received a switch.
- Game 1: 25 possessions, 1.32 PPP
- Game 2: 18 possessions, 1.33 PPP
- Game 3: 24 possessions, 1.08 PPP
- Game 4: 29 possessions, 1.14 PPP
- Game 5: 22 possessions, 1.27 PPP
- Game 6: 25 possessions, 1.44 PPP
TOTAL: 143 possessions, 1.26 PPP