After 72 games each for all 30 NBA teams, one of the league’s most challenging regular seasons yet has finally crossed the finish line.
In the midst of depressingly empty arenas, strict protocols, and postponed games due to numerous coronavirus outbreaks, the world’s best basketball players still managed to deliver familiar entertainment to its fans, and sometimes, to a historic degree.
As the NBA shifts its focus to the playoffs and its brand-new play-in tournament, here are the most significant numbers recorded by the biggest stars of the 2020-2021 regular season.
In a season that may have silenced the very last of his haters, Stephen Curry led the Golden State Warriors in yet another season to remember with a career-high 32 points per game average to clinch his second scoring title.
At 33 years old, Curry is only the second player ever to nab top scoring honors for a season at that age since the mythical Michael Jordan. His closest competitor, Washington Wizards superstar Bradley Beal, just fell 0.7 points short of Curry’s mark.
After five somewhat mediocre games for the standards of the only unanimous MVP in league history, “Chef” Curry gave a preview for what’s yet to come with a career-best 62-point explosion in just his sixth game against his rival Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers.
Curry would then go on to record a whopping NBA record seven games with at least 10 three-pointers in a single season, and as a testament to the massive carry job he had to do up to this point, Golden State actually lost two of those games.
Still, the Warriors’ new all-time scorer saw his hard work pay off for now, as his team has clinched a play-in game for the 7th seed against very familiar foes, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Russell Westbrook, Washington’s figurative and literal late-season driving force, now stands alone as the all-time leader in career triple-doubles with a staggering 184 – two more than the previous 47-year record-holder Oscar Robertson.
Perhaps even more impressive than that high-water mark is the fact that this is Westbrook’s fourth season averaging a triple-double, with norms of 22.2 points, 11.5 rebounds, and a league-best 11.7 assists.
Due to recurring injuries and overall team inconsistency, the 2016 MVP’s impact, or lack thereof, was once again heavily criticized as the Wizards held a lousy 17-32 record as of April 5, good for 13th place in the weaker Eastern Conference.
But Westbrook found a higher gear just as his team needed it and helped Washington win 17 of its final 23 games to rise all the way to the 8th seed in the play-in tournament.
In that white-hot stretch, “Beastbrook” averaged video game numbers of 23.0 points, 13.5 rebounds, 14.0 assists, and 1.6 steals on 45% shooting and 38.7 minutes a night.
This is the same player who was left off this year’s All-Star team.
Once upon a time, the Denver Nuggets spent their 41st pick in the 2014 NBA draft on a relatively unknown Serbian big man by the name of Nikola Jokic.
At the time, the NBA didn’t even televise the pick, as it happened while a Taco Bell commercial was on.
Just six years later, that team is on its way to have the lowest-drafted league MVP in NBA history if longtime projections do come to fruition.
That’s a whopping 26 spots below the two-way tie of current record holders Steve Nash and Giannis Antetokounmpo, who were both selected 15th overall in 1996 and 2013, respectively.
This season, Jokic is averaging 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 8.3 assists, all career-highs, while leading Denver to a No. 3 seed finish in the loaded Western Conference.
As he continues to establish himself as arguably the best passing big man in league history, the “Joker” saw his average dimes jump from 7.0 to 8.3 in just one season, all while keeping a 3.1 turnover average for the third-straight year.
At just 25 years old, there is no telling where Jokic and his low-injury risk, high-IQ game will take him, but for sure, this unique journey is only just beginning. – Rappler.com