2015–2016: The Year Steph Curry Broke the Game of Basketball

2015–2016: The Year Steph Curry Broke the Game of Basketball

March 30, 2022

One of the Best Players in NBA History Has One of the Best Seasons in NBA History

2015–2016 is often referred to as “the year that Steph Curry broke the game of basketball”. It’s pretty hard to argue that Stephen Curry is one of the best shooters…make that best players, period…in NBA history. But his 2015–2016 season was so good, that it changed the way we look at many basketball stats. In fact, Curry’s play that year was so off-the-charts that the makers of the NBA 2K16 video game had to actually go in and adjust gameplay to accurately reflect how good Curry was that year. That’s right, the real Steph Curry was so “unrealistically good” compared to a video game that they had to fix the game. They simply hadn’t imagined a player could be that transcendent in real life. Said NBA 2K16 gameplay director Mike Wang at the time:

“For Steph, we need to re-define those rules so that his virtual character is able to make some of the insane plays that he makes in real life on a more regular basis.”

As Curry’s Golden State Warriors started the season, everyone knew they were great. After all, they had just won the NBA Championship the prior year. But even knowing that, the league’s teams were unprepared for the performance Steph Curry and his team were about to put down in the history books. They started out the year with the best ever start by an NBA team. They broke the existing record at 16–0, eventually going 24–0 before suffering their first loss. During that span, Curry also became the first player since Michael Jordan to break the 115 point mark in the first three games of a season. Soon after, he also became the first player in NBA history to make 200 three-point shots in four consecutive seasons. By the All-Star break, the Warriors were 48–4, passing Michael Jordan’s ‘95-’96 Bulls and Wilt Chamberlain’s ‘66-’67 Philadelphia 76ers for the best mid-season record ever.

It’s often said that Curry changed the way professional basketball is played with his shooting, and in particular his three-point shooting. That was never more emphatically shown than during his history-making 2015–2016 season. One by one, he took down almost all of the league’s three point records (many his own), including the most consecutive games with a three-pointer at 157, and the most three-pointers made in a season. But Curry wasn’t just a one-note long range shooter. His shooting percentage on layups (over 68%) was in a range normally reserved only for post-up big men, even though he stands just 6’2”. And even more impressively, he tended to do it under high-pressure situations while helping his team win important games. In 2015–2016, he averaged more 4th quarter points than any player in the 21st century.

Unlike many individual superstars, Steph Curry’s eye-popping play also made his team, and all of his teammates, better. Every game of the 2015–2016 season, it seemed like Steph Curry was setting records while leading Golden State to set records of their own. One impressive example took place when he hit the single-game record for three-pointers by making his 12th of the game from nearly half court with just 0.6 seconds remaining on the clock in overtime, to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder. But that shot not only marked the single-game three-point shooting record, it also set the all-time record of 288 three pointers in a season at the time, breaking his own prior record with 24 games still to play. To add insult to injury, pun intended, he did all of this after rolling his ankle and having it stepped on by an opposing player in the third quarter, and having to sit out six minutes while having it retaped just so he could continue. That’s pretty much the definition of heroic clutch play. And it was only February. In fact, that game led the Warriors to become the first team in 25 years to clinch their playoff spot in February.

In March, soon after that epic effort, Curry became the first player in NBA history to hit 300 three-pointers in a season, as the Warriors set the NBA’s all time home win-streak record at 54. And this pattern of combined individual and team greatness continued that year, as the Warriors became only the second team ever to break the 70-win mark. They eventually ended the regular season at 73–9, which is to this day the best team record in the history of the NBA.

As if being the first player ever to hit 300 three-pointers in a season wasn’t enough, Curry wrapped up the final game of the regular season by surpassing the 400 mark, eventually ending with 402. To put that number in perspective, he surpassed his own NBA record by 116 made shots, or 41 percent! In addition to the aforementioned stats, Curry ended the season leading the NBA in both scoring and steals (only the third player ever to do that), made his third straight All-NBA team, and was the league MVP for the second year in a row, winning the honor in a unanimous vote for the only time in NBA history. His performance that season landed him in the rarified “50–40–90” club, meaning that he shot more than 50% from the field, more than 40% from three-point range, and more than 90% from the free throw line. Only seven players had ever done that at the time, and only nine to this day. Even more impressive, he’s the only player ever to do it while also averaging more than 30 points per game.

Normally, basketball statistics make for fairly boring conversation, except among die-hard stat followers. But in the case of Steph Curry’s 2015–2016 season, he also put up some stats that are so absurd that they’re actually fun to think about. For example, Curry led the league on threes from 28–47 feet (i.e. absurdly long range) at 51.6%, while the rest of the league only shot 20.8% from that same range. His shooting percentage from 30–34 feet that year (a distance that normally reserved only for desperation attempts at buzzer-beaters) was 57.7%, which is better than the overall field goal percentage of all but three players in the entire league. Think about that. He was a better shooter from near half court than just about everyone in the NBA was from normal distances.

Perhaps the best way of summing up Steph Curry’s lasting influence on the game isn’t a stat or words of praise at all, but a piece of criticism leveled by former Warriors coach and NBA analyst Mark Jackson. During Curry’s epic 2015–2016 season, Mark Jackson opined that Steph Curry was so spectacular a shooter that he was hurting the way young players played the game, because those youngsters were emulating his ridiculous long range bombs rather than playing based on the limits that apply to mere mortals.

But no matter how ethereal Curry’s stats were, his feet were always firmly planted on the metaphorical ground. And during that 2015–2016 season, they were also literally planted in a pair of Under Armour Curry 2 sneakers, offered for sale from the RareMint collection. While wearing this particular pair, Curry scored a game-high 28 points in the Warriors 100–84 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies at FedEx Forum in Memphis. They have been conclusively photo-matched to the November 11th, 2015 game by the MeiGray Group. The all-black sneakers have gray and red accents, with an interlocking “UA” Under Armour logo applied to the outside ankle, and white undersoles. “CHARGED” is printed in red on the outside heel and the top shoelace hole of each shoe is bordered in red. The laces are gray with black dots and Curry has signed these sneakers in silver marker on the toes, while inscribing “WSC” on the right sneaker in black and “Romans 8:28” and “I can do all things…” in black on the left sneaker. They come with a LOA from the MeiGray Group for the game use and individual LOAs from PSA/DNA and Beckett Authentication for the signatures.

RareMint is pleased to offer a 1 of 1 “Ultra Rare” NFT of the shoes, based on a 12k capture, and depicting every detail of this unique collectible in 3D. It will confer ownership of the one-of-a-kind game used, signed, and inscribed Under Armour Curry 2 basketball shoes from his pinnacle 2015–2016 season to its holder. In addition, 25 commemorative “Limited Edition” NFTs of this rare collectible will be available honoring the greatest achievements of the man who “broke the game of basketball” that year. Take advantage of this rare chance to own your own piece of Steph Curry’s best season and history-making career.

See the 3D version of these signed game worn shoes at the RareMint Marketplace

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