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Sport: NBA Star Power Index: Why Stephen Curry is the Babe Ruth of 3-pointers; promising signs for Young, Lillard

Damian Lillard on playing on big-market super team: ‘I don’t feel in my heart that that’s who I am or where I belong’

  Damian Lillard on playing on big-market super team: ‘I don’t feel in my heart that that’s who I am or where I belong’ Damian Lillard spent the summer flirting with the idea of leaving the Trail Blazers. At one point, he met with Lakers stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports: the Lakers were already privately evaluating their options on potentially landing Lillard, sources said. Lillard did not categorize the meeting as a platform for a recruiting presentation, but rather an information-gathering forum among respected peers. “’Bron asked what I was thinking with my situation, and I told him what I’m telling you: that I just want to be in a position to win it all,” Lillard told Yahoo Sports.

Welcome back to NBA Star Power Index: A weekly gauge of the players who are most controlling the buzz around the league. Inclusion on this list isn't necessarily a good thing. It simply means you're capturing the NBA world's attention. This is also not a ranking. The players listed are in no particular order as it pertains to the buzz they're generating. This column will run every week throughout the regular season.

  NBA Star Power Index: Why Stephen Curry is the Babe Ruth of 3-pointers; promising signs for Young, Lillard © Provided by CBS Sports
Stephen Curry
GS • PG • 30
PPG28.1
APG6.7
SPG1.69
3P/G5.154
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After Stephen Curry scored 37 points in 29 minutes, hitting nine of his 14 3-point attempts, in Golden State's beatdown of the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday, I saw this tweet below, and now I can't stop thinking about it.

Damian Lillard, Blazers just trying to create leverage?

  Damian Lillard, Blazers just trying to create leverage? Kevin O'Connor: (Damian Lillard) goes from making these vague comments about, “Yeah, I don’t know how long I’ll be here” like weeks before the season to suddenly “I’m all in.” There are front office executives around the league who think this is a strategic choice by the Blazers, Dame’s group and all that in order to create leverage for the organization because right now around the league teams just want Dame. They don’t they don’t want CJ McCollum, they don’t want Jusuf Nurkic. They’re like, “We’re gonna wait for Dame to demand a trade.

I know what you're thinking. This is crazy, right? Babe Ruth is more than a superstar. He's almost mythical. You could tell me he was actually just a bedtime legend, the Bigfoot of baseball, and I might believe you. To even include his name in the discussion of mortals seems patently absurd.

But really think about it. When it comes to 3-point shooting, how mortal, really, is Curry? The gap between him and his peers, when you factor in not only the sum but majestic effect of his shooting, is starting to feel rather Ruthian.

Consider: When Ruth whacked 54 home runs in 1920, nobody else in the league hit more than 19. This is insane, but that means Ruth hits 184 percent more home runs than anyone else that season. Nobody is ever going to be that much better than everyone else again. I feel comfortable saying that.

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The important distinction here is we're not talking about Ruth as overall player. We're talking simply about his home-run prowess in relation to his peers, and how far that one skill stretched the parameters of the game he was playing and the imagination of those in witness.

Ruth wasn't the best at everything. Even in 1927 when he launched 60 homers, a record that stood for well over three decades, he wasn't in the top 10 in total hits or batting average. He was never the fastest player, or the best defender. He was the king of the long ball.

That's what Curry is to the 3-pointer. There are certainly better defenders than Curry. He's not the fastest or most athletic player by a long shot. He's probably not even the best overall scorer of his time (like Wilt Chamberlain, whom we'll get to shortly).

But when it comes to making 3-pointers, you'd be hard pressed to find an athlete, male or female, in any sport, since the time of Ruth who's as far ahead of his or her competition as Curry, who on Tuesday night hit nine 3-pointers in a single game for the 37th time in his career. No other player in history has done that more than nine times.

NBA Power Rankings: Stephen Curry shoots Warriors into top spot

  NBA Power Rankings: Stephen Curry shoots Warriors into top spot The Warriors have taken advantage of a soft schedule to get off to a fast start. 1. Warriors (9-1, Last Week No. 3). Winners of six in a row and with the best net rating in the NBA (via Cleaning the Glass), the Warriors don’t just look good; they look like themselves again. Are they contenders? Not sold on that, yet. The Warriors have had one of the two easiest schedules in the league so far, plus we need to see how Klay Thomson looks when he gets back on the court. Are the Warriors Stephen Curry for MVP good? Yes. It’s early, but Curry has to be near the top of the MVP conversation so far.

Who has the most games with 10 or more 3-pointers? Curry, with 22. The next-closest player has five. What about 11 or more 3s? Curry has 12 such games. Nobody else has more than two.

Think about this: Curry has already hit at least nine 3-pointers in a game three times this season alone. That's 33 percent of Damian Lillard's decade-long career total of nine such games, a number shared by James Harden, who has played 12 seasons and change and rewrote the rules on volume shooting. We haven't even hit the quarter mark of the campaign yet. Look at the freaking pace this guy is on.

Indeed, Chamberlain would be another athlete in the Ruthian realm. He was a man amongst boys. The guy averaged 50.4 points per game in 1961-62. The next-highest scorer, Walt Bellamy, averaged a measly 31.6 PPG. Do the math, and that's a 59-percent scoring gap between Wilt, in the highest-scoring season of his career, and his closest competition.

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By contrast, when Curry made an NBA record 402 3-pointers in 2015-16, the next-closest guy was his teammate, Klay Thompson, who made 276. That's only a 46-percent gap between Curry and the field.

But again, we're talking about one skill here. Wilt as the best scorer is a matter of multiple facets. Jump shots. Post-ups. Dunks. Free throws (yeah, Wilt did make a few). Scoring can't be narrowed down to one skill, just as hitting and home run hitting are two different things. Hitting factors in batting average, OBP, OPS, Slugging, the whole gamut. Home-run hitting, like 3-point shooting in relation to overall scoring, is its own thing.

Which begs the question: What about Barry Bonds? When he juiced 73 homers in 2001, it was in the middle of a truly cartoonish era. Sammy Sosa hit 64 that season, meaning Bonds, as strictly a long-ball launcher, was just 14 percent better than the next guy. Bonds' single-season record of 73 is only three better than the 70 homers Mark McGwire hit in 1998, which was just four homers better than Sosa's 66 that same season.

What about Tiger Woods? In terms of one single skill, he falls short, too. He might be the single-most dominant athlete, overall, in history not named Babe Ruth. You could argue that. Woods might well have changed golf more than any other athlete has changed any sport. But his single-most Herculean ability was hitting the ball a mile before everyone else started doing the same thing.

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  NBA Power Rankings: Warriors remain on top but Nets climbing fast Brooklyn and Miami are the top-ranked teams from the East, but the Bucks are climbing fast. 1. Warriors (15-2, Last Week No. 1). Rookie Jonathan Kuminga has been getting more run of late, and the No. 7 pick is showing flashes of the crazy athleticism and potential he brings to the court. Steve Kerr used a young Kawhi Leonard as his comp: Insane athlete, raw, but on a team deep with talented veterans so he just has to play a role and make simple plays. So far, Kuminga has done that well and helped the Warriors, but it’s a long road from here to being Kawhi. The Warriors have won four in a row and 11-of-12, with a good showdown next Tuesday against the Suns.


Video: 'Hyperbole may be an understatement' for Curry (NBC Sports)

Only Tiger never actually led the PGA Tour in driving distance (that's what you get for playing with John Daly). He only led the Tour in putting (average strokes gained) once. Woods does have the record for greens hit in regulation (75.15 percent in 2000), but the gap between that and even the lowest GIR percentage to lead the Tour for any single season is just 7.3 percent -- not even close to the gap between Curry and his 3-point competition.

What about Wayne Gretzky? He's probably about as close as it gets to Ruth in terms of a mythical athletic figure. His scoring stats in comparison to every other player, in his time or any other, are stupid. But remember, we have to narrow it down to one component to make this at least somewhat close to an apples-apples comparison.

Gretzky's most dominant statistical advantage over his competition was his assists. For a single season, Gretzky's greatest assist campaign was in 1985-86, when he posted 163 to Mario Lemieux's 93. That means, statistically speaking, Gretzky was 69 percent better than the next-best assist guy that season. For his career, he's 48 percent better than than Jaromir Jagr. Gretsky has 808 more career assists than Jagr despite playing in 246 fewer games.

But here's the deal: Assists only happen when someone else scores a goal. It's not an entirely individual accomplishment. It's more impressive, in my opinion, than what Curry is doing with 3-pointers, but not as comparable to Ruth's homers. That said, Curry is on something of a similar path to Gretzky in terms of obliterating the next-best career performer in his area of expertise.

Is this shaping up to be Stephen Curry's best season ever?

  Is this shaping up to be Stephen Curry's best season ever? Stephen Curry has been phenomenal to start the 2021-22 NBA season, but how does this season stack up against 2015-16 when he was the unanimous MVP?If there was an MVP handed out for the first quarter of the season, the trophy would definitely have Curry's name etched onto it.

Curry has already passed Ray Allen for the most career 3-pointers including the postseason. Barring injury, he'll likely pass Allen for the official record (which only includes regular season stats) sometime in the next few months. When he does, he will have done so in more than 500 fewer games. That's six full NBA seasons.

All of this is to say, if you don't agree with the Ruthian comp, be it for apples-oranges reasons or pure blasphemy, I understand. I am not saying Curry's 3-point shooting is Ruth's homer equal. But there's an argument it's the most identifiable comp we have seen, both for statistical and anecdotal evidence. The latter, of course, can lead you astray. It's based on observation alone. Bias factors in. I'm not denying my love of watching Curry shoot 3-pointers isn't part of my own equation.

But this is interesting, you have to admit. For years we have been trying to encapsulate just how different Curry is as a shooter than anything we've ever seen. Stats alone don't paint the full picture. When I imagine fans piling into Yankee Stadium to watch Ruth hit home runs, it seems like it would've been a lot like the feel in an arena when Curry gets cooking.

So I'm just going to stake my claim: Unless you're nearing 100 years old and can technically say you were alive when The Babe was doing his thing, you have never seen an athlete do any single thing as dominantly as Steph Curry shoots 3-pointers. You have seen better athletes. Better overall players. But never one athlete who does one thing, on their own, better. That sounds absolutely crazy to say, but I honestly think it might be true.

Trae Young
ATL • PG • 11
PPG25.5
APG9.1
SPG.87
3P/G2.6
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Trae Young has snapped out of his early season shooting funk, hitting 52 percent of his 3-pointers (27 for 52) over his last five games. On Sunday, Young torched the Milwaukee Bucks for 42 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds on 61-percent shooting, including 8 of 13 from 3. Here's the list of players who've put up that line in NBA history:

Damian Lillard’s Boldness Extends to Entrepreneurial Spirit

  Damian Lillard’s Boldness Extends to Entrepreneurial Spirit The Portland superstar has the savvy and stamina to succeed in the business and basketball world.From humble beginnings in Oakland, California and a relatively under-the-radar four years at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, the 31-year-old is now one of the world’s biggest names in sports.

Seven of Young's 3s came in the first half.

Atlanta needs Young to keep cooking. DeAndre Hunter is now out for two months, and Atlanta's defense has been a doormat. The Hawks have won two straight following a six-game losing streak.

Kevin Durant
BKN • PF • 7
PPG28.9
RPG8.1
BPG.53
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Kevin Durant has been out-of-this-world awesome this season. His shooting splits -- 57 percent from the field, 42 percent from 3 -- would be stupid if they were all open looks; that he's connecting at these rates (67.5 percent from the deep midrange!!) with two and three defenders -- who don't have to be concerned with many, if any, other Nets playmakers so long as James Harden is limping his way back to old form -- on him like velcro is astounding.

Durant is the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week. His 28.9 PPG leads the league, but Curry (28.7) is right on his bumper after Tuesday night when Durant was held to 19 points on 6-of-19 shooting in Brooklyn's loss to Golden State. Durant's 0-for-8 third quarter came at a particularly bad time.

Curry missed the final seven minutes of the third with four fouls. When he went out, the Nets were down 13. They needed a run with Curry on the bench. Instead, Durant went ice cold and by the time Curry returned to open the fourth quarter, the Warriors were up 22. Game over.

DeMar DeRozan
CHI • SF • 11
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Chicago is back on the winning track, taking two straight over the Lakers and Clippers after being blasted by the Warriors. In those two wins, DeMar DeRozan combined for 73 points on 69-percent shooting (27 for 39), including 3 of 6 from 3 -- where he's connecting at a career-best 38-percent clip, per Cleaning the Glass.

DeRozan is the league's fourth-leading scorer. The Bulls, second in the East at 10-4, are beating opponents by 21 points per 100 possessions with DeRozan on the floor, per CTG. If he's not in the top five of your early MVP rankings, you need to reconsider.

Damian Lillard
POR • PG • 0
PPG20.3
APG8.1
SPG.71
3P/G2.571
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With Damian Lillard out of the lineup, the Blazers were blown out by Denver on Sunday. Afterward, Chauncey Billups hinted at some possible lineup changes that could be coming. Turns out, the change that was needed was getting LIllard back on the court for 40 minutes. Lillard posted 24 points and eight assists in Portland's victory over Toronto on Monday, and he made a huge 3 in clutch time that looked like the old Lillard.

It's a slow climb out of the shooting hole LIllard dug to start the season, but he's seven for his last 16 from 3 as the arrow is starting to point up.

Damian Lillard’s Boldness Extends to Entrepreneurial Spirit .
The Portland superstar has the savvy and stamina to succeed in the business and basketball world.From humble beginnings in Oakland, California and a relatively under-the-radar four years at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, the 31-year-old is now one of the world’s biggest names in sports.

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