The year is coming to a close, but there have been no shortages of outstanding moments from the NBA’s calendar year. At the time of writing this, a majority of the NBA’s franchises have played around 80 games, give or take a couple, during this calendar year and I’ve given out multiple “Best…” awards for various categories.
Steph Curry, Golden State: I don’t think there’s an adjective to describe how great Steph Curry was during 2015. Also being voted AP’s Male Athlete of the Year recently, 2015 was undoubtedly Steph Curry’s year. The reigning NBA MVP & Finals Champ rose to the top of the NBA behind his shifty handles, and a deadly jump shot. As the year comes to an end, Curry looks like the runaway MVP and has put up staggering numbers to start the 2015-16 season as he & Golden State look poised to bring a second title back to the Bay Area.
Along with his NBA superstardom officially locked up, Curry has emerged as a global icon and one of the most recognizable athletes on the planet.
2015 Stats: 26.7p/7.2a/2.1s, 334 3PM at 46%
Best Team & Best Coach
Golden State Warriors & Steve Kerr/Luke Walton: During the first half of 2015, Golden State looked superb; the second semester of 2015, the Warriors look unstoppable. They steamrolled through the playoffs last year and capped off a 16-5 playoff run with a 4-2 series victory over Cleveland. They were the most explosive team offensively and had the best defensive rating at the end of the 2015 season and only gained momentum at the start of the new season.
At the time of posting this, the Warriors are 28-1 and have set a bevy of records regarding the 2015-16 season. Before this year, the best start to a season by an NBA was 15-0, and that was accomplished by the 1948-49 Washington Capitols & the 1993-94 Houston Rockets. The Warriors got to 15-0 and then proceeded to smash that record and win 24 straight games before being beaten by the Milwaukee Bucks. They are the clear favorite to win the title again this year, and I wouldn’t be shocked if they beat the 1995-96 Bulls’ record of 72-10.
For the calendar year, they sit at 70-11, but very well could finish the year at 73-11 as they close out 2015 with games against Sacramento, Dallas, and Houston.
Best Regular Season Game Performance
Steph Curry, 10/31/15 vs. New Orleans: 53 points, 9 assists, 4 rebounds, 4 steals, 17/27 FG/FGA, 9/13 on threes and 11/11 from the FT line in only 36 minutes of playing time with a game score of 49.2.
I wasn’t lying when I said 2015 was Steph’s year.
This line isn’t far off from the typical production that the Warriors are used to from Steph this year. He torched the Pelicans that night, and singlehandedly took all the attention away from everyone else in the NBA and fixated it on he & his team.
Best Single Game Playoff Performance
James Harden, 05/25/15 vs. Golden State: 45 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 13/22 FG/FGA, 7/11 3FG/FGA, 12/13 from the line in 40 minutes with a 41.0 GmSc.
This loss one of the five handed to Golden State during the playoffs and — from an efficiency standpoint — the best performance in the playoffs. Despite losing the series in five games, James Harden put on quite a show that night against the eventual champions.
Best Playoff Series Performance
LeBron James, Cleveland, 2015 Finals vs. Golden State: 35.8p/13.3r/8.8a averages during the 2015 Finals.
If you watched the Finals this past summer and weren’t impressed by what LeBron did, you don’t like greatness. The reason I didn’t put him in the previous category was because he had six straight excellent performances and I didn’t want to disrespect any of them. People are going to bash him because he lost and because he took too many shots and shot a poor percentage, which are all true, but it’s hard to overlook the fact that he was less than two assists away from averaging a triple-double.
LeBron did everything he physically could to keep Cleveland relevant in that series, and I truly believe that Cleveland would’ve won with a healthy Kevin Love & Kyrie Irving. His six straight marvelous performances were spectacular to watch and showed us how great LeBron is as an all-around player.
Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota: The number one overall pick is not disappointing for the Timberwolves and is my favorite for Rookie of the Year, on top of being the Best Rookie for 2015. This award was between KAT and fellow Timberwolf Andrew Wiggins, whose rookie season was last season. I elected Towns because he’s more efficient that Wiggins was, has better all-around numbers, and has more win shares through 30 games than Wiggins did for his whole rookie season (granted the Wolves were a lot worse last year).
Towns is currently averaging 16.3p/9.3r/2b per game, and if that were to continue, he’d become the tenth rookie in NBA history to have a season with those averages; joining Chris Webber, Ralph Sampson, David Robinson, Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O’Neal, Dikembe Mutombo, Alonzo Mourning and Patrick Ewing.
Best Single Game Performance By A Rookie
Kristaps Porzingis, 11/21/15 vs. Houston: 24p/14/7b, 8/12 FG/FGA, 2/3 3P/3PA, 6/6 FT/FTA in 35 minutes with a game score of 27.9.
When the Knicks drafted the Zinger, to describe their fanbase as unhappy would be an understatement. He was showered with boos on draft night but has quickly ascended to a potential ROY winner. The 7’3″ Latvian has showed great rebounding ability, excellent shot blocking skill and has finally found his shooting stroke and is now a legitimate weapon for the Knicks.
As we put 2015 behind us, 2016 looks to be loaded with many great moments including the All-Star Game, the highly anticipated playoffs and the conclusion of Kobe Bryant’s career, among other things.
*Photo Credit: Jason Miller / Getty Images*