Reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes is doing spectacular and unique things that haven’t been seen before. He is setting a standard that leaves those watching him in awe. Mahomes deserves all the accolades he is receiving- and all the fear from opposing defenses. It is hard to see how he doesn’t make it into the AFC Championship game against Tom Brady. But in the zest for superlatives to define his talent and brilliance, Steph Curry’s name is being thrown around as a way to anchor what we are seeing from Patrick Mahomes. It’s convenient albeit lazy because Mahomes is only 24 years old while Curry’s championship years were at the ages of 26, 28 and 29. Curry not only has two MVP’s but one unanimous MVP, and he is a member of the best regular season record in NBA history. He’s been to 5 NBA Finals in a row. Mahomes couldn’t beat Brady last year to get to his first Super Bowl. Mahomes hasn’t won anything yet. As Troy Aikman said, “talk to me when Mahomes has 33% of my Super Bowl Trophies.”
But like Curry, Mahomes is a kind and generous person. Even his mom thinks he could be meaner. Both Mahomes and Curry (first name is Wardell) are named after their fathers who were both professional athletes. (Mahomes father played in MLB). Both are soft spoken and look like the kid next door. Both have games that are thought to be revolutionary but really are not.
Has Curry revolutionized the NBA? A little, but no. Yes more teams are drafting perimeter shot makers and the three is more important than it has ever been. Darryl Morey, Rockets GM, took the Curry archetype and tried to shape his team around it but has had zero success. The real of the real is that Steph Curry is unique. Last season, he attempted 12 threes per game, a career high. Of those 12 attempts, he made 43% of them which isn’t even in the top 5 of his career. It is tied for 6th. And yet Curry scored 27 ppg, the second best of his career. It’s what Curry does when he’s not putting up threes that makes him transcendental. He averages 9 two point shots per game. With the exception of last season, that is more than his three point attempts so stop trivializing him as just a three point shooter. Yes, that is his brilliance. But Curry is efficient at other parts of his game, except for defense. For the last five years, he has a PER of 25.0 or higher, and an offensive rating of 119 or higher.
Mahomes is a generational gunslinger at quarterback. He makes throws out of the pocket that are Aaron Rodgers-esque but with a little bit more velocity and athleticism. This year, he is making 71% of his passes. His offense is explosive. Against the Patriots in the AFC Championship game, he scored 24 points in the 4th quarter when he was being schemed by Bill Belichick. NFL scouts aren’t out searching for a Mahomes like arm. Those are in very short supply.
Patrick Mahomes greatness has been regular season greatness. He’s Shaq in 1998. He’s Jordan in 1988. He’s LeBron in 2009. He hasn’t won and therefore comparing him to someone who has won three titles, lost two titles, and is expected to once again carry a franchise is premature.
Mahomes will at some point ascend to the Steph Curry narrative. He will win titles if KC can get their defense together and that is something else that makes him different than Curry. When Curry’s brilliance began winning games, the Warriors had the best defense and the best offense. They were talented on both sides of the ball. The Chiefs defense is a little bit championship suspect so Mahomes is the show.
Next week, Steph Curry will begin his 11th NBA season. I remember him at Davidson killing Duke in the NCAA tournament. He’s been a topic of discussion since then. He’s defied all projections about what he could do in the NBA. Steph Curry’s quick release makes him special. Patrick Mahomes quick release makes him special.
Curry though, at 31, is the teacher. Mahomes is the student.