Sharpshooter Curry has made 3-pointer NBA’s shot of choice
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Stephen Curry has changed basketball for all time.
The recently named NBA most valuable player — his second consecutive MVP award — has proved the three-point shot is more important than anything in the game.
The pro three-point arc has been around for a long time — the Celtics’ Chris Ford widely is credited with being the first player to make an NBA three-pointer, doing so on Oct. 12, 1979 — but the shot itself never had been fully endorsed or even completely understood the way Curry has endorsed and deconstructed it.
The MVP is a three-point madman. His accuracy is so startling that it often appears he doesn’t set and launch the shot as much as he does set it on an invisible arc that carries the ball cleanly through the basket so far away.
Curry made 402 three-pointers during the regular season, such a ridiculous number that it must be interpreted through math and historic comparison.
His 402 made threes add up to 1,206 points, a total that is more than the Bulls’ Derrick Rose scored on all shots, including free throws, this season.
It is 116 more treys than anybody had made in a season. (By the way, Curry had set the previous record of 286 last season).
It is 77 more three-pointers than Magic Johnson made in his entire career.
How can this be possible? you ask.
I ask it, too.
To break a record by such an incredible margin — Curry’s 402 threes broke his previous record of 286 by 40.6 percent — means he is almost inhumanly talented, on another level of reality or has discovered a niche in a sport no on else has dared to exploit. Or all of the above.
Consider that breaking the three-point record by that margin is the equivalent of somebody high-jumping 11 feet, 5 inches, long-jumping 41 feet, 4 inches, running the 200 meters in 11.40 seconds or hitting 103 home runs in a major-league season.
Those are 40.6 percent improvements on current world records.
Short of being loaded on steroids and/or some crazy robotic muscle and guidance system, Curry must be considered a game-changer of wild and rare dimension.
And Curry, at 6-3 and 182 pounds, appears to be more loaded on carrots and tap water than on human growth hormone and ‘‘the clear.’’
Still, if it was only Curry who had the three-point genius, that simply would make him a freakish outlier. But he sucks people along with him.
His teammate Klay Thompson made 276 threes this season. The Warriors, the defending NBA champs who will face the Thunder in the Western Conference finals starting Monday, made more than 1,000 three-pointers during the regular season.
And other teams are drafting in the tailwind. Just two weeks after the Warriors made a playoff-record 21 three-pointers against the Rockets, the Cavaliers rained 25 on the Hawks on May 4.
The Cavs made an incredible 18 threes in the first half of that game. And they came back and made 21 threes in the next game. The total of 46 was the most made in back-to-back games. Nothing but records, folks.
And here’s the larger point: A three-point shot is a full 50 percent upgrade on a standard two, and it is starting to make no sense to take a lowly deuce.
As Curry says, ‘‘I always believed three is better than two.’’
It’s just addition.
Curry made 45 percent of his three-point attempts. If he launches 12 of those, he’ll score a theoretical 16.2 points. If a foe shoots 12 two-pointers and makes 50 percent of them — a nice number — he’ll have only 12 points.
So now everybody knows how you win games rather than spin your wheels and fall back: Fire ’em from deep!
The rim is too low to take easy layups anymore. The midrange jumper makes no sense. The open three has become the easiest bang-for-your-buck shot in the game.
I long have advocated a four-point line, possibly from halfcourt and the edges just across the center-court line. This isn’t a ridiculous concept.
Curry would make those shots, and you’d better pick him up full court, fellows, or beware.
All any kid practices these days out on the playground or on the barn door are three-pointers. Learning to count by threes is a new juvenile hoops art.
It took awhile — and it took a freakish talent such as Curry to make it official — but the three reigns supreme.
Follow me on Twitter @ricktelander.