So we're only five games into the NBA season—that's 77 games away from the season's end and way too early to talk about the MVP race, right? Right?! Well, even if you haven't picked up the conversation yet, Steph Curry wanted to make sure he jumpstarted it for you.
Last night, Steph dropped an unbelievable 51 points on the Washington Wizards at home in Oracle Arena. Oh, and he did it all in three quarters.
For some preposterous reason, Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr decided to rest Steph on the bench for the fourth quarter as they led the Wizards by 18 points at the end of the third. But Kerr may have just deprived us of history—Curry was well on pace to break his own game record of 54 points and his 11 threes were just two shy of the NBA record for most in a game (which he owns, natch). With this 32-minute performance, he moved up to fifth on the NBA's all-time three-pointers list. He also hit all ten of his free throws, and added five rebounds, three assists, and one block just for kicks.
To get the full scope of the night, let's start from the very beginning, during warm-ups, when it was already foretold that Steph would have a ridiculous night:
Ironically, Steph would later struggle a little bit more from that kind of close range than he would from far out. While he did miss four from within the paint, he was lights out from behind the arc, oftentimes extremely behind the arc.
Let's roll the clip, shall we?
This is what happens when you try to pants Steph's younger brother. He was so locked in, it's almost like his celebrations weren't even as smug as they normally are. It's like the man was taking shots from his one-time home in Toronto, and could barely let out an annoying-ass shoulder shimmy. (Ok, so there was the MJ shrug, but whatever.)
I mean, just look at his shot chart:
If you were to just take a look only at any of those X's several feet off of the 3-point line, you'd would think that this player was a madman. Or maybe just had the ball at the countdown for each quarter. Or was a egomaniacal glory-balling jerk. But as soon as the green pops up, you'd realize that my god, those are actually legitimate shots to take.
Just listen to Kerr on the matter:
The beatdown on the Wizards got to the point that Kevin Durant even wanted to be subbed off early:
Oh, and by the way, Kevin Durant dropped 30 on the night. Which brings us to our next point: MVP.
The Warriors are still a tough team to stare down in the face. In 2015, the narrative was about them breaking record after record, using only their spunky homegrown players. But as soon as KD landed on the scene in 2016, there were talk of cheat codes, and lax NBA regulations. Somehow, Steph kind of shrunk into the background as NBA chatter became obsessed with Russell Westbrook going berserk on everyone after KD left Oklahoma City, averaging a preposterous triple-double per game, and Curry's new teammate KD put on an incredible Finals MVP-winning performance. Then did it again the next year. All while Steph lurked.
Sure, Durant said after the Wizards game that it might be possible to start the MVP conversation at this point. But now, the narrative of the Warriors—in their last year in Oakland, and possibly Durant's last year on this super team—has changed to make it compelling in its own logic. Even if NBA fans are cursed with a lopsided league and this unfair team that might just take a third Finals in a row, we can start to look at the competition within the team. Because we are watching two of the greatest current players grapple for the throne, inch-by-inch, in real time. Grab some popcorn.
This article originally appeared on VICE Sports US.