Stephen Curry is a difference-maker in so many ways

Later this week, Stephen Curry will reportedly become the 13th player in NBA history to win multiple MVP awards and the third point guard to do so. Both Steve Nash and Magic Johnson won multiple MVPs, and like Curry, won them in consecutive seasons.

Curry averaged a career-high and NBA-best 30.1 points per game. He recorded a player efficiency rating of 31.5 this season, the eighth-best single-season PER in NBA history. Only Wilt Chamberlain, LeBron James and Michael Jordan recorded better single-season PERs.

But what is it about Curry that makes him so great?

A different way of evaluating Curry

Let’s use some of our cutting-edge information to break down Curry’s game.

Of the 130 players to attempt at least 200 3-pointers this season, only two (Kobe Bryant and Damian Lillard) took tougher shots (based on expected field-goal percentage) than Curry. Only one (J.J. Redick) shot a better percentage.

Curry made 200 contested 3-pointers off the dribble, which exceeded the total of 26 entire teams. He shot 43 percent on those attempts. He was the only one of 33 players who took 100 of those shots to make more than 40 percent of them.

In terms of passing, Curry averaged 6.7 assists per game, but no player in the NBA created more high-quality looks for teammates as a passer than Curry.

How do we measure what is or isn’t a good shot? Quantified shot quality takes into account a bunch of factors, including where a shot is taken, location of the defender, whether the shooter was moving or not, whether or not it was a catch-and-shoot or off the dribble, etc. Think of it almost as a degree of difficulty for shooting.

Of the nearly 250 players who made at least 150 passes that led directly to a teammate’s shot, nobody created higher quality looks for his teammates than Curry.

Curry is the most dangerous pick-and-roll ball handler in the NBA.

A direct pick is any in which either the ball handler or screener shoots, draws a foul, turns the ball over or passes to a teammate who shoots within one dribble. Curry ranked first in the NBA this season in points per direct pick.

Curry’s most frequent partner in the pick-and-roll action was Draymond Green. Only three duos ran more of them this season. Of the 100 most frequent pick-and-roll combinations in the NBA, none averaged as many points per direct pick as Curry/Green.

What’s scarier is that it’s not even Curry’s most efficient pick-and-roll partnership. Though they have run fewer than 200 of the plays, the Curry and Andrew Bogut pick-and-roll combo was the best in the NBA among any duo that ran at least 150 direct picks. Curry and Bogut averaged 1.17 points per direct pick.