Is Stephen Curry the MVP of the playoffs?

John Leyba/The Denver Post/Getty Images

Stephen Curry helped the Warriors win a playoff series for the second time in the last 22 years.When David Lee tore his right hip flexor in Game 1, many thought it would be an uphill battle for the Golden State Warriors against the Denver Nuggets.

But after Lee went down, Stephen Curry stepped up as the team’s MVP. Curry may not just be the Warriors’ most valuable player but the MVP of the NBA playoffs thus far.

Curry carried the Warriors to their first playoff series win since 2007. With Curry on the court in the first round, the Warriors outscored the Nuggets by 52 points. But with him on the bench, they were outscored by 27 points. They scored 24 more points per 100 possessions and shot eight percentage points better from the field with Curry on the court.

Warriors With Stephen Curry On/Off Court
First Round vs. Nuggets

Curry’s ability to shoot from the outside and penetrate into the lane opens things up on the perimeter for his teammates. With Curry on the court in the playoffs, the Warriors are shooting 42 percent on 3-pointers and 29 percent of their points are from beyond the arc. With Curry off the court, they’re making 30 percent of their 3-point attempts and only 20 percent of their points are 3-pointers.

It’s not just Curry’s offense that has sparked the Warriors. He’s also making an impact at the defensive end. The Warriors allowed 12 fewer points per 100 possessions in the series with Curry on the court. His on-court presence has led to the Warriors forcing more turnovers and defending the 3-point shot better. With Curry on the court, the Nuggets committed 15 turnovers per 48 minutes and shot just 29 percent on 3-point attempts. But with Curry off the court, the Nuggets turned it over 11 times per 48 minutes and shot 45 percent on 3-pointers.

Curry is the only player in NBA history with at least seven assists and four 3-pointers in four straight playoff games. He did it in the first four playoff games of his career. Nobody else has ever done that in three straight playoff games.

Only Matt Bonner, LeBron James and Manu Ginobili have a better plus-minus than Curry in the 2013 playoffs.

In the playoffs, Curry ranks third in Player Efficiency Rating behind only Kevin Durant and LeBron.

Where does he rank among point guards?

Highest Player Efficiency Rating
2013 NBA Playoffs

Curry is quickly entering the discussion among the league’s best point guards.

If you think Curry is more of a shooter than a point guard, consider this: Curry leads all players in assists per game (9.3) in the playoffs.

Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook were the only point guards with more win shares than Curry during the regular season, according to Basketball-Reference.com. No point guard has more win shares than Curry during the playoffs.

The combination of Curry’s ability to shoot from the outside and distribute is something we haven’t seen much since the 3-point line was introduced. LeBron, Larry Bird and Curry are the only players in NBA history to average at least 22 points and 6 assists per game while shooting at least 40 percent on 3-pointers in a season.

Curry is efficient creating off the dribble. He ranked third in the league in points per play on isolations including passes this season. Only James and Parker were better.