Steph Curry CAN jump

Posted on April 13, 2016

(Last Updated On: May 19, 2017)

An explanation the media has routinely given for Stephen Curry’s surging popularity is he’s “an everyman.” Something like,

“Kids see Lebron and they’re like, “I can’t do that.” They see Steph though and they realize, “Ok, I can practice that.” Steph doesn’t jump out of the gym, he’s not 6’10” like Durant, he’s not 250 pounds like Lebron. He’s more relatable.”

We’ve already examined Lebron James’ jumping ability. With a true vertical somewhere around 30-33 inches. Compared to NBA players he’s alright; compared to NFL guys, like virtually all NBA players, he’s mediocre.

Fortunately with Steph, we have exact information on his jumping ability due to participating in the NBA combine.

What we’ll focus on to start here is the No Step Vert. Which is this:

jamie collins vertical jump

Max vert is jumping with a run up. Like this:

Patrick Connaughton Vertical with steps GIF

Whenever you see Lebron or someone quote him as having a vertical jump of 40 inches, that’s yet another attempt for attention from Lebron with a run up. Without a run up, again he comes in at ~31.5 inches.

Steph Curry pre draft statistics

Steph comes in at 29.5!

Right away someone is going, “That’s bullshit. No way Steph jumps anywhere near as high as Lebron.” I bet you’re thinking Steph doesn’t jump as high as Blake Griffin either, but:

Blake Griffin Steph Curry Pre Draft

The highlighted here is max vert. So jumping with a run up. Steph Curry can jump exactly as high as Blake Griffin (with a run up. Blake has him beat by 2.5 inches in pure jumping).

In fact, Steph isn’t too far down the list at the 2009 draft:

2009 Draft Profiles pre draft steph highlighted

Here is his ranking for pure vert:

Steph Curry pure vert 2009 highlighted

To give a sense of his ranking, here are how many guys were below him just in the 2009 draft. This is those who participated at some kind of combine. We’ll first show where he is again, then those below him:

Steph Curry pure vert 2009 highlighted Max vert ranking 3 Max vert ranking 4

He’s much closer to the top than the bottom. The average of all those numbers is 27.73. Steph is nearly two inches better than the average.

How about a guy who is being talked about as one of the most athletic players to ever play? Russell Westbrook.

Russell Westbrook draft measurements

He comes in at a measly half inch higher than Steph in the no step vert, and only a paltry one inch higher in the max vert! One of the most athletic to ever play is Westbrook, yet Steph is a guy we can all relate to???

-> To really hammer home the dominance NFL players have athletically over NBA guys, here are the vertical jump numbers from the 2008 NFL combine, for defensive backs. We’ll use d-back because that’s where I’ve heard media members routinely say he could play e.g. good luck playing running back at the only buck ninety Westbrook weighs.

Westbrook’s 30 inch pure vertical would be an afterthought-

Vertical jump nfl combine defensive backs 2008 1 Vertical jump nfl combine defensive backs 2008 2


Ok, how about wide receivers? How many of these names have you even heard of? Yet they jump higher than Westbrook. Russ should get more credit for the effort behind how he plays; not the physical ability. The physical really isn’t that impressive, relatively speaking-

Wide Receivers 2008 NFL draft 1' Wide Receivers 2008 NFL draft 2

I heard Steph asked in a Dan Patrick interview if he could take Cam Newton in a race.

“Are you serious?”

As in, “Uh, no.”

But there is no doubt Westbrook is a much flashier dunker than Curry.

So what gives? Some may think something along the lines of what Jerry Rice, who clearly has early dementia, thinks.

“So Jerry, is it true you could only run the 40 in 4.8 seconds?”

“If you have someone chasing me, I could run it in 4.2.”

We have the “game speed” argument. Where right before a game starts a person reads some Harry Potter, gets an invisible broom put under their ass, and suddenly they have running and jumping powers they never had before.

Let’s look at Russell Westbrook hitting the peak of his jumps in some of those dunks.

Russell Westbrook jumping ability Russell Westbook vertical jump Russell Westbrook best dunk 1 Russell Westbrook great dunk 2 Russell Westbrook great dunk zoomed in 1

Hopefully we all agree Westbrook can get “almost to the backboard.” (Keep in mind that blue padding on the bottom of the backboard is below the backboard.) Maybe 2 inches below?

The backboard is ~114 inches high.

basketball backboard dimensions

Russell is 75.5 inches tall with shoes on.

He can get his head two inches below the backboard, or 112 inches high, jumping with a run up.

  • 112 inches – 75.5 inches = 36.5 inches

Where’d we hear that number before?

Russell Westbrook draft measurements max vert highlighted

-> When you’re Jerry Rice you don’t need to be that fast when you had four of the 34 most accurate quarterbacks ever throw you the ball. (And countless hall of fame teammates.) Yes, he ran great routes, but god damn is that some good fortune. Coupled with his longevity, this will be the toughest aspect for any receiver to break his records.

Then why isn’t Steph breaking rims off like Westbrook is?

Well, Steph can get pretty fancy with the dunking…when he feels like it:

For a guy who is 6’3″ (with shoes on), that is not an easy dunk. Nor is this:

On the 360, Steph looks like he’s getting damn close to the backboard with his head.

Stephen Curry vertical jump dunk

And here (while a low angle shot can be misleading, look how far his head is up the net):

Steph Curry reverse jam

If his head weren’t leaning back here:

Steph Curry can dunk

Steph Curry dunking ability 2

Not quite where Westbrook is, but quite close. Yet we expect him to bit shy of Westbrook with his one inch lesser leaping ability. But that’s only an inch. Then we need to look at,

  • We have our inch difference in running jumping ability
  • Steph is a quarter inch shorter
  • Westbrook has a three inch longer reach

Steph then Russ:

Steph Curry pre draft statistics standing reach Russell Westbrook draft measurements standing reach

That’s 4.25 inches added up right there. When it comes to dunking, that’s a ton. Easily the difference between being able to dunk and not. Easily the difference between slamming the hell out of the ball and just getting it down. Just think the difference between a 6’3.25″ guard and a 5’11” one. That’s a Golden Gate gap to bridge.

-> Another under appreciated factor here is with those long of limbs, Westbrook probably has significantly larger hands, making palming the ball -crucial in dunking- much easier.

We can see this by examining each guy’s max vert reach. How high can they get their hand when they jump?

Westbrook 10’10”; Steph 10’6.5″

Russell Westbrook Max Vert Reach Steph Curry Max Vert Reach

Westbrook gets 3.5 inches higher. With a three inch longer reach and being a little taller, Westbrook is barely jumping higher than Steph. He’s getting higher, but primarily through means besides jumping. It’s similar to why we don’t expect Steph to dunk like Blake Griffin. Not because Blake has the incentive of more Kia commercials they jump so differently, but because Blake’s way taller.

So we shouldn’t be surprised when Steph makes “one of the greatest athletes to ever play basketball” look lost:

Multiple times,

Or jumps on top of him to steal the ball (1:10 mark),

It’s because he’s barely behind Russ athletically!

With males having an average height of 5’9.3″ in America, and Steph at 6’2″ with no shoes on, a big majority of kids still won’t be able to relate to him height wise. With him jumping higher than an NBA draft class’ average, most won’t be able to relate to his jumping ability either.

That said, Steph does have a leaping ability many, many, many could train their way to. His reported deadlift of 400 pounds is a number many could get to. And strength is a big part of leaping ability. (Why NFL players jump so much higher- much stronger relationship with the weight room.) You can work your way to a 29.5 inch vertical. Athletic prowess is not the bottleneck for many to becoming an NBA player. Height is.

Now…can you work your way to apparently the vision of a hawk, a truly ambidextrous handle, shooting better than anyone has ever shot a basketball (think about that, it’s crazy!), who grew up watching and learning from one of the best shooters ever (his dad) so by your 20s you already have more than two decades of expert shooting tutoring, with the ability to do this,

Causing percentage wise the best three point shooter of all time -his head coach!- to not even believe it. Because Steve Kerr could never drain threes shooting like that!

Using Steve Kerr as our proverbial seque into the Bulls- yeah, we know, rules are different, hand checking, yada yada. One thing not mentioned is how the ’95-’96 Bulls had a three point line where the arc was two feet closer to the rim! Curry is barely behind Kerr in all time three point percentage, but Kerr was a set-up shooter, and had three seasons with a shortened three point line.

And hand checking had been basically eliminated by ’94. (More details here.) “Imagine if Jordan played without hand checking!” He did, and he didn’t score anymore than in ’86-’87, nor did his shooting percentage go up at all.

Then there all these old timers hating on Steph and the Warriors yet multiple orgasming for Kobe and how great his work ethic was. 1) Kobe played with all the rule changes implemented 2) However much he practiced he still shot eleven percent worse from three point land than Steph, and three percent worse from two point land. But Kobe is great and Steph wouldn’t score 20 a game back in the old days? Sure. Now lecture us on how music isn’t as good anymore.

-> “Kobe’s just old school.” Wonder how old school it was to be the highest paid player in the league this year, play awfully, and routinely tell people you’re retiring because “I don’t want to do it anymore.”  But remember, Kobe’s all about winning.

In other news, Scottie Pippen insists how much tougher things were back then, yet continually forgetting how much of a vagina he was in 1994. Congratulations Pip. You’ve finally exceeded Jordan…when it comes to how good you are at telling people to get off your lawn.

Freaks don’t always come in the form of size, speed, or jumping ability. Freakishness can encompass more than the superlatives of fastest, highest, strongest.

It’s doubtful many more people will be able to relate to Curry than can relate to Lebron. Try doing Curry’s warm-up routine and see if it’s any less humbling than attempting to dunk like Lebron. No other sport seems so fixated on the past. It’s like the NBA community needs therapy. You wanted something incomparable to Jordan and it’s going on right in front of you. (No, that doesn’t mean he’s better than Jordan. It means his play is that noteworthy.) We should enjoy it while it lasts.

The kids practicing like Steph can mimic him all they want, but just like his teammates who can hire his trainer, do his warm-up, watch exactly how he does everything, they still can’t do what he does. They still don’t have a shooting range where a defender has to pick you up at half court. His own brother can’t do what he does. It’s like when that guy won the Master’s by 12 strokes, “Oh, I’m sure if I practice enough I could play like Tiger.” Right.

A lot of people have played a lot of basketball, yet nobody has ever played basketball like this. It’s awesome, and there is a lot to learn from. Like his dedication to training, the different things he does, his warm up routine, his relaxed family life outside of basketball. But thinking anybody can practice to this is probably, like Steph’s game, straight up silly.

Now turn on the Warriors game tonight instead of the Lakers. You’ve already seen a better version of Kobe (Jordan). You’ve never seen a team go for 73 wins, and you’ve never seen something like Steph Curry.

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Posted in: Miscellaneous, Sports