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NEW YORK (Reuters) - It has been a long climb for Stephen Curry from a frustrating rookie season with the Golden State Warriors to top-vote getter for the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday.
The sweet-shooting guard from Davidson College suffered through a 26-56 season with the Warriors after being the seventh pick of the 2009 NBA Draft, but comes to Madison Square Garden as the floor leader of the NBA's top team at 42-9.
"I had very high expectations, a dream," the 6-foot-3 (1.90m) Curry said after Saturday's practice with the East All-Stars. "You never know how it's going to unfold, and take place. That's the fun part about the journey.
"And I'm still not anywhere near what I want to achieve. That's what keeps me hungry and driven to keep going."
Curry has averaged 23.6 points, 7.9 assists, 4.7 rebounds and a league-leading 2.2 steals for the high-flying Warriors and received 42,000 more votes than LeBron James as top All-Star vote-getter.
Golden State coach Steve Kerr, who is directing the All-Star West team, said Curry deserves frontline consideration as the league's most valuable player.
"Steph is definitely one of the leading candidates," said Kerr. "He's great at both ends. His defense is underrated, he's been really good defensively.
"He's obviously an amazing shooter, but it's not just the shots. The penetration, the ball handling, the constant threat that he poses opens other things up for his teammates. He's a phenomenal player."
Kerr said Curry, the son of former Charlotte Hornets player Dell Curry, had answered doubters who questioned whether he could excel in the NBA given his willowy physique.
"He's much stronger, faster and quicker than people realize," said Kerr. "The opponents realize it, they feel it."
Curry will be starting in the backcourt with his Warriors running mate Klay Thompson, stepping in for the injured Kobe Bryant. He said he was fully enjoying all the success.
"We're doing things that haven't been done in our franchise for 25 years," said Curry.
"It's crazy to think about, as the longest tenured Warrior, and I've seen the transformation from my rookie year to now. It's pretty special."
Editing by Gene Cherry