Steph Curry has helped to reinvent basketball in a way that few players in the history of the game have with his seemingly limitless range and historic run with the Warriors. One thing that Curry isn’t known for, however, is his high flying athleticism. He can dunk, but his tendency to do so is extremely rare.
He’s not the tallest player on the court, nor have his hops ever been a part of his reputation. However, people may still be surprised when they learn one of the premier players in the NBA reached those heights without consistent dunking.
Steph Curry’s dunks
Steph Curry’s dunks have been known to get a reaction from the crowd because they are just rare enough to be a treat to see. They aren’t stylish, and he isn’t going to posterize anyone, but the dunks are known to energize the entire building. To date, Steph Curry has 29 successful dunks in his career, with 26 of them happening in the regular season.
Compare this to around 3,000 career three-pointers made between playoffs and the regular season, and we can see just how rare a Steph Curry slam dunk is. According to Basketball Reference, Steph Curry’s dunks account for just .003% of his overall field-goal attempts. Although the league is shifting to more long-range jumpers, players who reach Curry’s level have often done so with some consistent dunking ability.
Looking at how his numbers compare to other current stars, we can see just how rare a Steph Curry Dunk is.
The main opponent during Curry’s historic Finals run is an entirely different player than he is. Although LeBron James has typically been an adequate three-point shooter, it’s his ability to pound the ball inside and use the other gifts that made him who he is. Because of this, James may go down as the best dunker who never competed in a Slam Dunk Contest.
To date, he has 1,822 dunks, nearly 1,800 more regular-season dunks than Steph Curry has, and his 85 dunks in a hobbled 2018-19 season were a career-low.
While LeBron’s reputation for high-flying dunks has always been a part of his career, there is no current NBA superstar who dunks as much as Giannis Antetokounmpo. Just last year, Antetokounmpo had nearly ten times as many dunks as Curry has had in his career combined at 279. At 931 dunks, Antetokounmpo is already halfway to James in only six seasons, one of them spent as a role player.
His slam dunks make up for over 16% of his overall field-goal attempts. That’s nearly double James’ 8%.
James Harden is perhaps the most comparable superstar to Steph Curry. However, although he was never dunk contest material, Harden throws it down with some consistency. In his younger days, he was good for a little more than 40 dunks a season, and his recent years have had about 20 apiece. Harden has 310 career dunks in the regular season.
Harden exists somewhere in the middle of the previously mentioned players, and his ability to score from anywhere inside the arc or outside it makes him such a chore to defend.
One cannot mention Curry’s shooting without mentioning his fellow Splash Brother, Klay Thompson. Like Curry, Thompson isn’t necessarily known for his high-flying dunks, but even he has Curry beat heartily. In the regular season, Thompson had a career-high 24 dunks. This was actually a significant percentage of his 114 career dunks.
The reason that Thompson and Curry have made names for themselves, however, is that they know their strengths. While dunks were often the measure of a player’s excitement, this pair has shown that you can be just as exciting from downtown.