During their first stint together on the Warriors, the two first-round picks partnered to win three championships. Despite their close bond, Iguodala doesn’t sound like someone ready to call Curry the greatest point guard in league history just yet.
Andre Iguodala ranked Magic Johnson ahead of Stephen Curry
On the one hand, Iguodala has enjoyed a deep friendship with Curry for nearly a decade. But above all else, the 2015 NBA Finals MVP is a student of the game and respectful of the sport’s history.
During a 2019 appearance on ESPN’s First Take, Iguodala praised Curry’s shooting prowess and ability to create nightmares for opposing defenders. However, the three-time champion acknowledged that he still didn’t consider Curry the greatest point guard in league history, even after all that his star teammate had accomplished in the league.
“I’d say he’s the second-best point guard of all time. If you argue Isiah Thomas is better than [Curry], I won’t fight, but in my opinion, [Curry is] the second-best point guard of all time behind Magic Johnson.”Andre Iguodala
Well, at least we know that no one can ever accuse Iguodala of hometown bias or blind loyalty.
Comparing Curry to Johnson and Thomas is an extremely challenging task
Anyone who has heard Max Kellerman and Stephen A. Smith pollute the airwaves with nonsense involving the LeBron James and Michael Jordan debate likely understands the idea of context.
Context, for those who enjoy hearing those two argue if they’d rather have James or Jordan, means the comparison isn’t exactly apples and oranges. The game has drastically evolved, from rules to roles and everything in between, over the last 40 years.
Comparing Curry, arguably the deadliest sharpshooter of all time, to Johnson and Thomas isn’t easy. Curry’s career-high in assists per game is 8.5, a feat he accomplished during the 2013-14 season. Thomas only had fewer than eight assists per game in four of his 13 seasons.
Conversely, Thomas averaged 19.2 points per game for his career. Even counting his injury-plagued 2019-20 campaign, Curry has averaged at least 20 points a night in each of the last nine years. Of course, Curry plays in an era where all teams regularly exceed 100 points per night.
The logic doesn’t change when considering Johnson, who played in the same era as Thomas. The Los Angeles Lakers legend averaged 11.2 assists per game and mastered the floor general role, which at that time involved great defense and dishing accurate passes. Curry’s ability to lead an offense comes in the form of his shooting skills.
The advanced metrics don’t provide an easy answer to this debate
The greatest of all time, or GOAT, debates are often always doomed to end in a stalemate. Someone who spent their college years watching Jordan and the Chicago Bulls dominate throughout the 1990s will likely feel more compelled to pick him over James because of the nostalgia element.
The same applies here. A basketball fan who watched Johnson and Thomas throughout their primes, is likely in their 40s. Out of loyalty, they might stick with Johnson as opposed to someone in their mid-20s right now who would opt for Curry.
For anyone willing to reconsider, we present the analytics. According to Basketball-Reference, Curry ranks 62nd all-time with 112.25 win shares entering the 2021-22 season. Johnson ranks 24th (155.79), and Thomas (80.69) is way down the list at 157th. He ranks just ahead of Bob Dandridge (80.30) and Carlos Boozer (80.28), for whatever that’s worth.
By no means are win shares a perfect metric for an argument like this. Interestingly, Utah Jazz legend John Stockton leads all point guards with 207.70 win shares, and no one ever lists him above Johnson in these conversations.
Still, we give Iguodala credit for willing to list Johnson above Curry despite his relationship with the latter. Perhaps another championship will help propel Curry over Johnson in the minds of those willing to re-rank their greatest point guard list.
All stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.