Without question, the two best players in basketball today are LeBron James and Stephen Curry. The two seem to be on a collision course to meet once again in the NBA Finals and have another epic battle. When comparing the two players, there are not too many similarities. Curry is a small guard with a knack for shooting and finding ways to beat his opponent with finesse, on the other hand, LeBron is a monster, with physical tools that are impossible to match. James attacks the basket with force and power, while Curry kills opponents from long range.
By the time it's all said and done, Steph Curry could very well go down as the greatest shooter the NBA has ever seen. His ability to get his shot off from anywhere on the court with such high levels of accuracy in unprecedented. However, there are some things that Steph does lack in his game.
On the flip side, LeBron James is on track to be arguably the greatest player the NBA has ever seen. His ability to do everything on the court is what separates him from almost every other player to step on the court. His combination of size, speed, strength, and athleticism has enabled him to put together one of the greatest NBA careers already, and at the age of 31, LeBron has many great years still ahead of him.
The love and praise that Steph has been receiving over the past couple of seasons has been well deserved, however, I believe it is a little much for how early, as the relatively unaccomplished Steph is when compared to someone like LeBron. Curry may be able to get close to the level of James one day, but I do not believe it is possible for Curry to ever be as good as LeBron has been. Let me tell you why.
15 Steph's Ankles
When Curry came into the league he was plagued with several serious ankle injuries. There was a point when people thought Curry's career was going to turn out similar to the unfortunate career of Grant Hill. Luckily for Curry he was able to find a great doctor to perform surgery on his flimsy ankles, and also to get his own signature shoe from Under Armour, which includes some of the best ankle support ever incorporated into a shoe. It is still uncertain how his ankles will hold up over time though.
14 Need For Great Teammates
Steph has yet to prove he can win without a cast of all-stars around him. Unlike LeBron James, who has brought many poor rosters deep into the playoffs, Steph has been surrounded by All-NBA talent thus far in his career. This has worked well for Curry, but to surpass LeBron, he will have to show that he is capable of leading a lesser roster to the promise land. Curry can only play who he's paired with, but there's no doubt he's been dealt a better hand than LeBron.
13 Quickness Slows With Time
Steph Curry's offense is predicated on his quickness and ability to breakdown his defenders. As he gets deeper into his career and longer in the tooth, he will have to find ways to be as effective without having the gift of unguardable quickness. LeBron has been able to change his game and use his size as more of a weapon as he has aged, we shall see if Curry is able to find a way to age gracefully as well.
12 Late Bloomer
For Steph to catch LeBron in career accolades, he will have to play for a long time. James got his career underway at the tender age of 18, so James was collecting wins, points, and all kinds of career achievements before Steph was even thinking about the NBA; by comparison Steph was just trying to make his college team at 18. As good as Curry is, he will have to be better than LeBron, for longer, just to make up for those lost years during his college career.
11 Playing Above The Rim
Steph has changed the way the three-point shot is regarded around the NBA, but the guard has never been a high flyer. LeBron has height to go along with his incredible vertical jump, and with that combination, he has been a magnificent rebounder his entire career, something Steph will not be able to say. The ability to get above the rim makes James a much more well rounded player than Curry.
10 Triple Doubles
LeBron James is the modern day Oscar Robertson when it comes to stuffing the stat sheet. Steph lacks the ability to rack up rebounds and assists with the same ease that James does. Think about this, LeBron has recorded 41 career triple doubles. Steph on the other hand has seven. James has the incredible ability to influence the game in so many ways, it is hard to imagine Steph ever being able to match that.
9 P.E.R. Leader For Six Straight Years
This is one of the most impressive stats of LeBron James' career. He was essentially the NBA's most efficient player for six straight seasons from 2007-2013. The only player to beat James' six straight years, was Michael Jordan, who did it seven straight. It is hard to see Curry leading the league more than only a few times in his entire career, as he does not shoot an extremely high percentage from the field.
8 NBA First-Team Honors
As we mentioned earlier, LeBron got a head start on Steph when he entered the NBA as an 18 year old. James has already been an NBA First-Team selection nine times, and you can probably pencil in a 10th this season. In contrast, Curry was given the honor for the first time last season, and we can pencil him in for his second this year, but he has a long mountain to climb before he even gets close to LeBron's level, especially if James can continue his career with the same intensity he has now.
7 Basketball IQ
It is common knowledge in the NBA that LeBron James has a once in a lifetime basketball mind. His ability to read a defense and a defender, is only matched by players like Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson. As gifted as Curry is, he does not have the basketball acumen on LeBron James. James could easily (and sometimes has if you ask the right person) be a head coach in the NBA after his playing days are over.
During his 13 year career, LeBron has only had one stretch where he missed at least two weeks of a season; that is remarkable for a player who plays the style James does. Curry who is a perimeter player, has already had injury problems and has missed extended time periods. For Curry to equal James, he will have to stay close to 100% healthy from now until he decides to hang them up for good. Having a smaller frame than LeBron, that will be considerably tougher.
Steph is a one position player, he is a point guard, and that will never change. LeBron has played every position on the floor, both offensively and defensively during his career. This versatility is something that separates James from most players in the NBA. To have a lock down defender, like James, who can match up with any player on the court gives his team such an advantage that it makes it hard to even quantify. It is one of the main reasons that he is not only an NBA Champion, but a Olympic Gold Medalist as well.
James has the ability to match up defensively with any player on the opposing team; having matched up with centers before, as well as point guards, and everything in between. That in itself is insane, but now take into consideration that LeBron has been named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team five times, and you have yourself a superstar. Steph has to turn himself into an above average defender, before he thinks about any First Team All-Defense.
3 High School Career
Steph Curry was largely unrecognized out of high school, and he ended up going to the small school of Davidson. LeBron on the other hand is widely regarded as the greatest high school basketball player of all-time. In 2002 and 2003 James swept all of the high school player of the year awards, including the McDonald's, Powerade, and USA Today player of the year awards. Because you can't go back in time, there is no way that Curry could ever match up with those facts.
2 Five Straight NBA Finals Appearances...And Counting
At this point James has been to six NBA Finals in 12 seasons, including the past five seasons in a row. This years he has his Cavs team primed for another run to the Finals, as they are currently the number one seed in the Eastern Conference.
For Curry to make five straight finals appearances, things will have to go just right for him and his teammates. The craziest thing about James' current run of Finals appearances is that he has done it with two different franchise, Miami and Cleveland.
1 Size And Strength
LeBron James was just born a different breed than the rest. Steph Curry looks like a regular guy with regular features, almost like you and I; James stands at 6-foot-8 and 250 pounds. With a frame like that, and the athleticism he possesses, it could be argued that James is the greatest pure athlete of all time. It will be hard for a guy like Steph to match a monster like James, simply because he does not have the physical tools needed.