Author: Wyatt Hock
With the Nuggets win over the Heat last Monday another season has come and gone. So here comes all the crazy offseason rumors and moves. But before we throw ourselves into the madness we should appreciate all the amazing moments that happened throughout the season. There will never be a season like this one again, so let’s look back at some of the best moments.
The NBA Finals
First off, what an entertaining Finals – a number one seed that’s been dominant throughout the season versus an eighth seed that was up and down throughout the year but caught fire when it mattered most. The Nuggets had a strong hold of the top spot in the West throughout the season thanks to Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. Jokic once again had an MVP caliber season averaging a near triple double (24.5p/11.8r/9.8a). And Murray, coming off an ACL injury, averaged 20 points and 6.2 assists. This was their first time playing together in the playoffs since their WCF run in 2020. In addition to the two stars, key role players such as Bruce Brown, Aaron Gordon, Christian Braun, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope stepped up. Gordon took on the assignment of guarding the best player in each series whether that be Karl Anthony Towns, Devin Booker, Kevin Durant, Lebron James, or Jimmy Butler. Brown and Pope impacted the game with their switchability on defense and their ability to knock down three’s, spacing the floor for Jokic to operate. Braun was able to give them an offensive spark off the bench when they needed it most, showing huge maturity for the young rookie. All of that combined led to Denver winning their first championship in franchise history. They were the last ABA team to make it to the finals, but the wait was worth it for them.
Although Miami came up short, their run was nothing to be ashamed of. They were only the second eighth seed in NBA history to make it to the finals. Their team was led by Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebeyo, but they also got key contributions from players such as Gabe Vincent, Duncan Robinson, Caleb Martin, and Max Strus. Their role players stepped up huge for them especially after two of Miami’s key players in Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo went down. When it mattered most, three of Miami’s role players’ 3 point shooting percentages went up dramatically compared to the regular season. Vincent went from 33% to 38%, Robinson, who spent the season in and out of the rotation, went from 33% to 44%, and Martin went from 35% to 42%. However, their impressive shooting wasn’t enough.
Denver and Miami weren’t the only teams to have impressive playoff performances. The Kings lit the beam. There were many questions heading into the season for the Kings after trading away Tyrese Halibuton and the hiring of a new coach Mike Brown. They answered all the questions by making it to the playoffs for the first time in 16 seasons as the number three seed in the West. They earned home court advantage in round 1 and took the defending champs to a game 7, ultimately falling short to yet another Steph Curry historic performance.
The Knicks had an impressive run as well thanks to the additions of players like Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart. They helped the Knicks get past the fourth seed Cavaliers before falling to the Heat. However, they have proven to the rest of the league that they are a competitive playoff team that is a legit threat in the East.
Playoff Performances to Remember
Along with team performances there were many spectacular individual performances as well. Most notable were Curry and Tatum’s epic 50 point game 7 performances. Facing elimination, Curry had 50 points against the Kings as he set a game 7 record for most points scored. Then, just a few weeks later, Tatum broke that record by scoring 51 points against the Sixers. Of course we can’t forget about Jimmy Butler’s game 4 performance against the top seed Milwaukee Bucks where he recorded 56 points, 9 rebounds, on their way to upset the top seed. Just a month later, Jimmy would trademark “Himmy Buckets”.
Regular Season Highs
The playoffs were extremely fun to watch but we can’t forget about the regular season. This season broke records, most notably Lebron James broke Kareem’s scoring title making him the NBA’s all time leading scorer. This added one more unbelievable achievement for the LeGOAT.
This season marked the official end to the Net’s short lived “super team”. Kyrie was traded to the Mavs and Durant was moved to the Suns. However, the Nets got Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, and Dorian Finny Smith, giving them a young core to build from.
This season also had the second highest scoring game in NBA history, the Kings beat the Clippers 175-176 in a double overtime thriller. Both teams displayed high level offense, and it will go down as one of the most memorable games of the season.
Below the Radar
We’ve highlighted many impressive players and games but I also wanted to show love to some players that didn’t receive as much recognition as they deserved. Tyrese Haliburton starred in his new role as the main guy for the Pacers this past season after being traded from the Kings the year before. He was now the main guard and he stepped his game up, going from 15.3 to 20.7 PPG and 8.2 to 10.4 APG. He helped the Pacers win 10 more games than the year before and earned his first all star game appearance, Haliburton had an amazing season shining in his new role. If he played two more games, he would have qualified for second in assists just behind Harden.
Another player who had an impressive season was Keldon Johnson. He took on a much larger role this year with the Spur’s loss of Dejounte Murray and Derrick White. He averaged 5 more ppg than he did the year before. His improvement was nothing short of impressive.
With that, the NBA season is officially over and we turn our attention to Shams’ and Woj’s twitter feeds.