SAN FRANCISCO -- The greatest shooter ever? We already know the answer is Steph Curry. The greatest point guard ever? Curry is to some, but not to all.
In an age where basketball continues to become more and more positionless, Portland Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups, who was a five-time NBA All-Star point guard himself, knows that Curry stands alone.
"I always say, to me, they have these lists of who's the greatest this -- I think he's the greatest combo guard to ever play this game," Billups said Wednesday night of Curry. "I don't think he's a point guard, two-guard, he's just a combo guard and he's the greatest to ever do it at that position."
Curry enters Wednesday night's contest between Billups' Blazers needing 16 3-pointers to break Ray Allen's all-time regular-season record. That not only would break the all-time career record but also the single-game record, held by Curry's Warriors teammate Klay Thompson.
The most 3-pointers Curry has made in a single game is 13, and when he did so, he needed only 17 attempts. He's averaging a career-high 13.2 attempts from deep this season, but Billups doesn't expect Curry to be record chasing, no matter how badly he might want to break it in front of his home fans. The Blazers coach expects Curry to stay within in Steve Kerr's system, and as soon as he feels an inch of separation, let it fly from long distance -- just as he always has.
Billups also has seen Curry single-handedly change how the game is played. For as many kids who want to dunk like LeBron James, just as many, or even more, want to drain shots from as far as their eyes can see. The most 3-point attempts that Billups ever took in his 17-year career was 425. That also was the same season that he made a career-best 184 3s in 81 games during the 2005-06 season.
Here's how much basketball has changed since then: Curry already has attempted 303 shots from beyond the arc, and has made 126 in only 23 games. The Warriors superstar leads the NBA in both categories.
Golden State Warriors
"He's one of the most influential players to ever play the game in the way that he's changed how everybody kind of plays the game," Billups says. "It's interesting because everybody plays that game, but there's only one Steph Curry.
It's inevitable at this point that if Curry doesn't break the record against Portland, he'll do so in the very near future. Though it's just what we have come to expect out of him, Billups knows Curry can't be taken for granted.
"The significance of him chasing, and some point getting this, is huge," he said. "He's already kind of known as the greatest shooter to ever play the game, so that's probably just validation when he gets it.
"I don't think anybody will be surprised when he gets it. It's been coming for quite some time."
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The impossible has become more and more possible with each game Curry plays. We've come to assume he's going to amaze us some way or another on any given night. But as so many young and old look to emulate him, we're about to be reminded yet again there's only one Steph Curry.
That's true with whatever position you want to label him as, too.