Unlike in last night’s Portland Trail Blazers- Miami Heat game, this afternoon’s Golden State Warriors- Cleveland Cavaliers game does not feature two of the NBA’s best teams. But, it features one of the best positional head-to-head matchups in the entire league. Stephen Curry and Kyrie Irving are two of the league’s best and brightest point guards, but both do far more than just pass the ball.
To say both Irving and Curry are dynamic is an understatement. They are relentless, they are vibrant, they are active, they are skillful.
Let’s compare them in a little more depth.
Irving has far less around him than Curry which dramatically affects how his game translated on a nightly basis. Irving is surrounded by a core of Dion Waiters, who on most night’s appears to be Irving’s arch-nemesis, Anderson Varejao, former Warrior Jarrett Jack, Tristan Thompson, and had this been written yesterday morning I would have also included Andrew Bynum, but he has been suspended because of his “conduct.” Because of his inferior supporting cast, Irving has average plus/minus of minus 4.93 for his career compare that to Curry’s plus 7.71 and you can see how important one’s cast is to someone’s success because the difference between the two guards is not 11 points.
Surprisingly though, Curry is playing slightly more minutes than Uncle Drew. But Curry is taking fewer shots per game and shoots a better percentage from the field and three than his Cleveland counterpart. Curry’s game is flourishing around Klay Thompson, David Lee, and Andrew Bogut, as he averages three more assists per game (9.5) and 1.5 more rebound per game (4.5) than Irving.
Irving is the better athlete of the two. Both are the same height, but Irving is a bit heavier and is a bit stronger, especially when attacking the basket. Both Curry and Irving consistently deal with injuries. Curry’s injury problems have diminished whereas in his third season, Irving is yet to play more than 59 games in a season.
Irving has a slightly higher assist/turnover ratio then Curry, but Irving is only in his third season whereas Curry is in his fifth. As Irving’s game matures, look for his assists to go up and his turnovers to go down.
Let’s compare their shotcharts from this season.
One of the main differences between Curry and Irving is their tenacity and aggressiveness to attack the rim. Down near the rim, Curry is shooting only 45.37 percent compared to Irving who is shooting 50.95 percent from the rim area. But the sample size is key. Curry has taken 108 shots near the rim, Irving has made 107 shots near the rim and taken 210. Curry has taken far more three point shots than Irving, but has taken far fewer shots from the rim.
Both Irving and Curry are good three point shooters. Irving is statistically better from the left side of the arc than Curry. Irving is shooting 48.94 percent from that spot compared to Curry who is shooting only 37.29 percent. Where Irving struggles is from the right side of the arc. He is shooting only 19.57 percent from that spot, which is an atrocious percentage especially because he has taken 46 shots from that spot, a reasonable sample size.
Curry is the better midrange shooter of the two and has multiple floater moves in his back pocket. Irving chooses to attack the basket and go to the rim in hopes to draw contact and finish an and-one opportunity.
Both Curry and Irving are improving with every game, but both have areas to improve. Either way, Sunday afternoon should sure be fun watching Curry and Irving battle for the crown of top young point guard.