Kyrie Irving Vs. Stephen Curry Career Breakdown

Feb 26, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) dribbles against Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) in the fourth quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 26, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) dribbles against Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) in the fourth quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports /

Back-to-back MVP Stephen Curry has stolen the NBA’s spotlight. But career stats show Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving isn’t statistically far behind.

Stephen Curry is the two-time MVP for a reason. Stats or not, he was the definitive offensive component on the Golden State Warriors 2015 NBA Championship team. In 2016, his play was even better, leading Golden State to a record-breaking 73-9 regular season record.

Additionally, his stats prove the historical prodigy he has been. In the 2014-15 season, Steph had what one would call, pedestrian All-Star numbers if you just looked at the base stats. Per game, Steph averaged 23.8 points, 7.7 assists and 4.3 rebounds.

To put this in perspective, all time NBA great Allen Iverson, in his 1996-97 rookie season, per game averaged 23.5 points, 7.5 assists, and 4.1 rebounds.  These numbers are in lockstep with Curry’s first MVP season.

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However, what really separates 26-year-old Curry from 21-year-old Iverson comparatively is efficiency of that scoring. In 2014-15, Curry had averaged 48.7 percent from the field, 44.3 percent from three-point range and 91.4 percent from the free throw line.

Iverson, on the other hand, exhibited a 41.6 field goal percentage, a 34.1 three-point percentage and a 70.2 free-throw percentage. Not to mention he averaged almost a turnover and a half more than Curry a game.

In the 2015-16 NBA Season, Curry came out in flying colors, averaging 30.1 points, 6.7 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game, joining the “50-40-90” club, the highest standard held for any shooter. His name joins the likes of Larry Bird, Reggie Miller, Steve Nash, Mark Price, Kevin Durant and Dirk Nowitzki. All the while, he led his team firmly in the regular season, breaking the 95-96 Bull’s record of 72 wins.

The Warriors went through bumps and bruises in the playoffs, most importantly Curry’s knee sprain in Game 3 of the Houston Rockets series.

Eventually, due to the loss of Andrew Bogut for Games 6 and 7, along with Draymond Green‘s one game suspension, Golden State was not able to overcome the Cleveland Cavaliers, as LeBron James and company roared back from a 3-1 deficit, bringing Cleveland home their first NBA championship.

Kyrie Irving has been a large part of Cleveland’s success these past playoffs, as he averaged 25.2 points per game, along with a three-point percentage of 44.0 percent. His Robin to LeBron James’ Batman was clearly a factor in every single playoff game, win or loss.

Coming off of injury in February of 2016, Kyrie hit midseason form just as the playoffs commenced, learning that he can be an effective scorer and threat off the ball, allowing LeBron James do what he does best – facilitate and create.

Now, many basketball fans who always and probably only watch the NBA Finals, are now claiming Kyrie Irving is simply better than Stephen Curry.

With the final minute rolling down, Kyrie hit what will be forever known in Cavs history as, “The Shot.” Kyrie slowly dribbled on the top of the right side of the key, and swished a step back 3 in Curry’s eye.

Due to the lack of Curry’s  three-point shot, and his tendency to force flashy passes that weren’t open (Side Note – Curry averaged almost a 1:1 Assist to Turnover ratio in the Finals, which is inadequate for any player, especially a point guard), many casual NBA fans have come to this ludicrous syllogism.

A.) Stephen Curry “choked” in the NBA Finals.

B,) Kyrie Irving is extremely clutch and outplayed Stephen Curry in the NBA Finals.

C.) Therefore, Kyrie Irving is a better player than Stephen Curry.

This is simply blasphemous and a fallacy. Kyrie hasn’t been able to lead a team to the NBA Finals, or put up nearly the same offensive numbers that Steph does.

However, by taking time to compare the career stats of Kyrie Irving and Stephen Curry, one finds that the difference between them is, in some ways, arguably negligible.

Comparison And Breakdown – Kyrie Irving Vs. Stephen Curry

A spin-off of baseball’s Sabermetric’s, basketball’s in-depth statistical analysis is referred to as, “APBRmetrics” (Association for Professional Basketball Research.)

Instead of using stats on a per game or per 48 minutes, the stat in use is per 100 possessions. This is chosen over other statistical measure of time played in a basketball game, merely because it removes the factor that every team plays at a different pace, thus causing their shots attempted and baskets to inflate or deflate.

(For those who don’t know, TS% is True Shooting Percentage is a more efficient Field Goal Percentage. Field Goal Percentage doesn’t take into account Free Throws or 3 Pointers, but True Shooting does.)

Also, PER is Player Efficiency Rating, which is an accumulation of all the box scores stats, put into one number. Although, it lacks the ability to describe how one is visibly effective off the ball and on defense. This is merely because it merely static stats such as steals, blocks, turnovers, field goals, etc.

First, Regular Season Career Stats Per 100 Possessions –

Kyrie Irving


Provided by View Original Table
Generated 8/21/2016.

Stephen Curry


Provided by View Original Table
Generated 8/21/2016.

As you can see, Kyrie and Steph average almost the same amount of points. Curry with 0.1 more than Irving. Curry does have a 0.4 and a 1.3 steals and assists advantage, yet he still averages 0.3 more turnovers than Kyrie.

All in all, Curry does have the statistical advantage over Kyrie, but is way further apart than fans and analysts tend to make it seem. Yes, Curry is more efficient at scoring the basketball. That is fact. But, Irving is not far off from the stat line that Curry puts up.

Related Story: A Look Back: Kyrie Irving's Top Plays From The NBA Finals

Let’s take a look at the postseason.

Post Season Career Stats Per 100 Possessions –

Kyrie Irving


Provided by View Original Table
Generated 8/21/2016.

Stephen Curry


Provided by View Original Table
Generated 8/21/2016.

Now, looking at either of the regular season or post season stats, an argument might be made for “How can you take a player’s stats while he was injured, and include them in this analysis?”

Clearly, Kyrie and Steph have both gone through season ending and effecting injuries. In the 2015 NBA Finals, Kyrie Irving was playing on a bad left knee,  eventually causing him to hang up his shoes, and get surgery on his fractured left kneecap. This past Finals, Curry was playing through the entire playoffs with an MCL sprain. Injuries are a part of any player’s career.

Back to the stats; Overall, Steph’s stats look to have the advantage. Averaging 0.5 points, 2.4 assists and 1.5 more rebounds than Kyrie, at first look Curry seems to have played better in the playoffs.

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However, looking deeper, Kyrie is actually a more efficient player. Not a more efficient scorer, but player. Curry’s 5.0 turnovers a game is just terrible, and Kyrie just allowing 2.9 shows that he had handled the pressure better than Curry in the playoffs. Even Kyrie has a 0.8 PER advantage.

Whether Kyrie’s lack of turnovers were the cause of playing second fiddle to LeBron, or Curry’s magnitude of turnovers was due to him not playing 100 percent healthy, you cannot deny that Kyrie has performed in the playoffs, under pressure, close to the level of the back-to-back MVP.

Plus, Curry is deep into his prime at age 28, and Irving is only 24. He gets to spend at least the next couple of years, and hopefully the rest of his career, playing under one of the greatest players ever in LeBron.

Final Thoughts

Kyrie Irving is not better than Stephen Curry. There is no feasible way that can be an argument. Curry is way more efficient as a scorer.

However, it should make every fan wonder, is Kyrie really that far off from Steph? Can Kyrie grow into his potential to become close to what Curry is for the Warriors? Many fans believe his talent alone makes him an MVP candidate one day.

If LeBron James can groom Kyrie Irving into the most effective natural playmaker that he can be, the Cavs will continue, for years to come, to be a force to be reckoned with throughout the entire NBA.

And who knows? Maybe the Kyrie vs Steph feud will continue to exist – a few more Finals matches, along with Kyrie Irving becoming even more of a star, could make this a point guard battle for the ages.

Related Story: Is Kyrie Irving An All-Time Cavalier?

Be sure to follow Austin Huthinson on Twitter @wildermind_aeh and King James Gospel @KJG_NBA. Let us know what you think on the Kyrie-Steph debate in the comments.