Why Steph ranks ahead of Kobe, behind Magic on Russillo's list originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Now that the championship confetti has fallen in San Francisco and the Warriors' championship has been properly celebrated, it's time to talk about legacy.
Steph Curry hauled in some serious hardware during Golden State's playoff journey. He won the first Magic Johnson Western Conference finals MVP award, finally added an NBA Finals MVP trophy to his collection, and, of course, now will sport a fourth championship ring.
For NBA analyst Ryen Russillo, Curry's latest postseason heroics were enough to move past the legendary Kobe Bryant on his all-time greatest players list.
"Steph [versus] Kobe is a real debate," Russillo said on the Bill Simmons Podcast. "If I’m a Kobe stan, I’m saying defensive gap, I don’t want to hear it. If I’m a Steph guy, I’m saying he’s never asked for a trade, the easiest superstar to play with in his generation, maybe beyond. He or [Tim] Duncan.
"Steph has better [playoff] stats. He just does."
In 134 career playoff games, Curry is averaging 26.6 points, 6.2 assists and 5.4 rebounds per contest while shooting 40.1 percent from beyond the arc. Bryant played in 220 postseason contests across his 20 NBA seasons and logged 25.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.7 assists to go along with a 33.1 percent clip from deep.
“You look at some of the net rating stuff, even when Kevin Durant was his teammate," Russillo said. "Steph had the No. 1 playoff net rating in 2017 and 2018. In 2015, it was No. 2 behind Draymond [Green], which is also because of Steph. He was up there this year in this playoff run. That’s four times we’re talking about him essentially being the No. 1 guy you want out there. There’s something as simple as to say, how come every time this guy is out there, his team wins all these games?"
Russillo and Simmons both cited Curry's quality as one of the best teammates to play with as part of his great legacy.
"Kobe was a pretty terrible teammate for a long time there," Simmons said. "There’s a lot of documentation there."
"I don’t know that Kobe made his teammates better," Russillo agreed. "All you have to do is read any book. Almost every single teammate and coaching staff at some point being incredibly frustrated with Kobe.
"Who would I want to be the face of my franchise? Who would I be psyched about having other guys play with? It’s Steph."
Although Curry passed up Bryant on Russillo's list, he and Simmons are in agreement there still is work to be done to surpass Johnson.
"The Magic stuff is where I will stop listening to you," Russillo said. "I get Iguodala is doing it for his teammate. But Magic Johnson’s resume doesn’t get enough credit because of [Michael Jordan] part of it. For 12 straight years, Magic’s Lakers team averaged 50.93 wins per season. In those 12 years, they made it to nine Finals. With a couple MVPs in there on top of everything else."
"I think there’s a chance he could catch Magic if they keep making the Finals and winning titles," Simmons claimed.
Winning a fourth championship in the Bay did a lot for Curry's resume. And he's undoubtedly hungry for more.