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From Underrated to Undeniable

How Stephen Curry Went From 3-Star Prospect to All-time 3-Point Leader

With two MVPs and four NBA Championships, Stephen Curry is one of the most accomplished players in NBA history. Curry joins LeBron James as the only active players with multiple MVPs and championships, and only six other players in NBA history – Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Tim Duncan – can lay claim to such fame. Long before Curry’s NBA journey, however, he was considered the 60th-best player at his position. Curry's new documentary 'Underrated' details how a little-known high school prospect from North Carolina became a generational superstar.

The trailer for Curry's documentary broke his career into five subcategories; unknown, undersized, underestimated, unstoppable and undeniable. He overcame obstacles every step of the way, and to the point that even his biggest critics can’t deny his accomplishments.

Stephen Curry was only a three-star prospect in high school, ranked as the 16th-best player in North Carolina, 60th best point guard in the nation and the 300th best player overall in the Class of 2006. Curry didn't receive any offers from the major conference schools and was only offered a walk-on at his parent's Alma-Mater Virginia Tech. Getting offers from Davidson, Winthrop and Virginia Commonwealth, Curry settled on Davidson.

Curry had a storied career at Davidson, finishing as the school's all-time leader in scoring (2,635) and made 3-pointers (414) in three seasons. Curry was college basketball's leading scorer (28.6 PPG) in his final season (2008-09) and holds the single-season NCAA record for made threes (162, 2007-08). In 2008, he led his 10th-seeded Wildcats to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament, a Cinderella run that serves as the main plotline of the documentary.

At 6'2 headed into college and 6'3 in the NBA, talent evaluators were wary of Curry's smaller frame. Some scouts viewed him as too small to play the shooting guard position and didn't think point guard was his natural position. In addition, top scorers on championship teams are traditionally much taller than Curry, and some questioned if a player at his size could break that mold.

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Since he entered the league in 2009, Stephen Curry has been the shortest player to win an NBA Championship as the team’s leading scorer. In that span, Curry is one of three players 6’3 or shorter to win a regular season MVP (joining Derrick Rose in 2011 and Russell Westbrook in 2017) and the only player to win multiple MVPs. In 2022, Curry became one of six players in NBA history to win a Finals MVP at 6’3 or shorter (Jerry West, Joe Dumars, Isiah Thomas, Chauncey Billups, Tony Parker).

In the 2009 NBA Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves had two opportunities to select Curry before the Warriors picked seventh overall. With the fifth and sixth picks, the Timberwolves selected two point guards, Ricky Rubio and Johnny Flynn, instead. Curry has gone on to be an NBA All-Star nine times, while Rubio and Flynn never had such an honor.

During the early years of his NBA career, Stephen Curry dealt with a series of ankle injuries, resulting in multiple surgeries and forcing him to play just 26 games in his third season. In 2012, the Warriors signed him to a multi-year contract extension which many considered a gamble due to his health concerns. However, it became what Curry coined "maybe the most favorable contract in NBA history" (via the Draymond Green Show), allowing the Warriors to keep Klay Thompson and Draymond Green while signing marquee free agent Kevin Durant in 2016.

Throughout his championship runs, many pundits still underestimated Curry's ability to lead a title team. In 2015, some claimed that the title was tainted due to injuries to key players on the Cavaliers. And in 2017 and 2018, it was Durant who received the NBA Finals MVP Award.

In 2022, the Warriors again won the title – their fourth in eight years – and Curry captured his first Finals MVP, averaging 31.2 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists in the Dubs’ six-game series victory over the Celtics.

Stephen Curry is the only player in NBA history to win league MVP unanimously – he received all 50 first-place votes in the 2015-2016 season. That season, Curry's Warriors made NBA history by winning 73 games – the most ever in a single season – surpassing the Chicago Bulls ' 72-win season in 1995-96.

Stephen Curry is Special | 2022-23 NBA Highlights

In 2017, the Warriors lost just one playoff game (16-1 overall record) en route to a championship. With Curry leading the way, the Warriors won the Western Conference in five consecutive seasons (from 2014-15 to 2018-19) and have won four NBA Championships overall.

Many of Curry's peers have conceded that he is one of the league's most impactful players.

"Stephen Curry is the most impactful player on a team in the league," Grant Williams said, reflecting on Curry's performance against his Boston Celtics in the 2022 NBA Finals (via The Old Man and the Three Podcast). "You have to guard him as well on the ball as you do off it. Once he gets off the ball, you're probably more scared of him off the ball than on it."

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That is quite the praise, considering Curry is widely regarded as one of the best ball handlers ever.

"I didn't have the handle they (Stephen Curry and Kyrie Irving) do," Hall of Fame guard and one of the all-time great ball handlers Allen Iverson said (via Showtime).

Throughout the league, many players have a clear take on who the greatest shooter ever is.

"Obviously we think of Steph Curry first when we think of shooters – the greatest shooter to ever play in our league," NBA 75th-anniversary team member and sixth all-time in made 3-pointers, Damian Lillard said (via Blazers.com).

With 3,390 regular season 3-pointers and 618 playoff splashes, Stephen Curry has cemented himself statistically as the top shooter in NBA history. Curry is a member of the NBA's 75th-anniversary team, having been named to nine All-Star and nine All-NBA teams. He has won four championships, two MVPs, two scoring titles, a Finals MVP, a Western Conference Finals MVP and an All-Star Game MVP – he has achieved nearly every accolade possible in the sport.

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Curry has been doubted countless times throughout his career but has persevered, becoming one of the most successful players in basketball history.