March 11th. Exactly 31 days ago the NBA went on pause. I wrote this when we got to the two week benchmark and I will repeat it now that we have added two more to the tally. There's no way its only been 31 days since shit went down in OKC. I simply refuse to believe it. Even today nobody really knows when things will get back, so what better way to mentally escape for a little bit and reflect on some of the things that made the 2019-20 season as awesome as it was. If you can remember, there was big time hype surrounding this season, every team that was somewhat good the year before was foaming at the mouth with the league appearing to be wide open. Then the games started and everything was even better than we hoped for. Sure MIL ran away with things in the East, but for the entire year up until the stoppage seeds 1-10 in each conference were pretty damn close. Go look right now. Look at how close things are. We were set up for a fantastic finish where teams were going to have to fight like hell for all 82.
This list is a culmination of things I personally miss. Maybe you don't agree, that's OK. I ran through these as they popped into my head so pay no mind to the order.
1. Jayson Tatum's sidestep threes
If you didn't think I was starting off with a Celtic well then I don't know what to tell you. A move Tatum has perfected, we saw signs this summer but it's at a whole new level and a huge reason why he's taken such a leap. An unguardable move that not even the best defenders in the world can contain.
2. Damian Lillard's outrageous scoring run
Do you remember Dame's January and February? Utterly ridiculous. He was dropping 61, 51, 50, 47, 48, pretty much every damn night. One of the craziest scoring runs this league has seen in recent memory. At home, on the road, it didn't matter. Dame was the most unstoppable player in the NBA for those two months
3. The Zion Experience
We should have seen it coming when Zion had that massive 17 point fourth quarter in his debut. Safe to say Zion has lived up to the hype and was every bit worth the wait to finally see. To think this is the worst he's going to be is pretty scary, and it's a shame we only got 19 games or so.
4. Khris Middleton's 50-40-90 attempt
When it comes to the Bucks, Giannis is going to get a lot of the hype as he should. But I have to take a second to acknowledge Khris Middleton's quest for a 50-40-90 season. In fact, if the regular season never comes back he'll finish at .499 from the floor. Do you know how rare 50-40-90 seasons are? Only 8 players IN THE HISTORY OF THE NBA have ever done it. It sucks that Middleton is most likely going to fall just short, because his season was awesome.
5. Zach LaVine dropping 49 out of spite
Remember earlier in the season when Zach LaVine got benched because his coach is an idiot so then in the next game he came out and dropped 49 points including the game winner? That was fun
6. LeBron's Year 17
As much as aI despise him as a person, from a basketball standpoint I miss watching 2019 LeBron. None of it makes any sense for someone in Year 17, yet here he is leading the league in assists dropping 25.7/7.9/10.6 on 49.8% shooting. Christ.
7. Trae Young bombs
Hands down one of the most exciting players in the league, I miss being able to turn into a random Hawks game and see him dropping bomb after bomb. Remember that 50 he put on MIA? Their team may have stunk but Trae is must watch stuff
8. Luka magic
We all knew Luka was good, but did anyone foresee 28.7/9.3/8.7 and a billion triple doubles coming in just Year 2? I mean holy shit. If you thought his rookie year was impressive well then what would you call this season? There are few things in this league like Luka magic and I really hope to see him play in a playoff series this year.
9. Devonte' Graham's breakout year
Just to put this into perspective, last season Devonte' Graham averaged 4.7 points in 15 minutes a game. This season, that's not 18.7 points in 35 minutes a night. One of the true came out of nowhere seasons and something tells me there's more where that came from.
10. Brandon Ingram's emergence
This season was a big time prove it year for Ingram. He's looking for a max extension this summer and it sure looks like the Pelicans are going to give it to him. There were questions if he could develop into a #1 guy, and I dunno I'd say 24.3/6.3/4.3 on 46/38% shooting is a pretty good indication he can. The addition of his three point shot has made all the difference in the world, and remember he's just 22 years old.
11. Aron Baynes raining threes
There is a real life game in which Aron Baynes made 9 3PM and it was every bit as awesome as that sounds.
12. Jimmy Butler fight
It's a damn shame the quarantine robbed us of the rematch of this little dust up. Not a bad hold me back fight by NBA standards, only I'm pretty sure Jimmy Butler would whoop that ass if allowed.
13. Vince Carter's fairwell
Pretty unfortunate that this is most likely how Vince Carter's career is going to end. We were robbed of his final appearance in TOR which was scheduled for last night. That would have been a cool moment to see
14. Ja Morant's season
We all knew Morant could dunk, but what we learned was that he pretty much is a franchise savior. I mean watching Morant carry this Grizzlies team to an 8 seed has been awesome to watch. He's fearless, he's cocky, he's lethal, he's everything you want in a young franchise player.
15. Giannis nearly averaging more points than minutes played
OK so this is pretty ridiculous and one of the most insane parts of Giannis' MVP season. How many times did we see games where Giannis would play like 27 minutes and have 30+ points? It became regular that he would score more points than minutes played. In fact, on the season he's averaging 29.6 points in just 30.9 minutes. What the fuck even is that?
16. Joel Embiid's trolling
When Embiid is healthy and locked in, he's a monster. One of the best parts of watching Embiid when he's like that is his A+ shit talking/trolling. I can think the Sixers are nothing but massive underachievers all I want, but I can't deny watching Embiid talk shit and troll is wildly entertaining.
17. KAT vs Embiid
Hey give these two credit. This was NOT a hold me back fight. It was as close to the real thing that we are going to get in the NBA. How about Ben Simmons coming over the top? Can't believe he didn't get suspended.
18. Bam Adebayo's leap
Jimmy Butler joining the Heat surely helped, but a bigger reason for the Heat's success this season is the development of Bam. He's turned himself into a jack of all trades big. He can score, he can rebound, he might be the second best passing big in the league right now, and you bet your ass he can defend. The leader in the clubhouse for the MIP award, watching Bam has been a lot of fun.
19. Jaylen Brown's handles
Nothing like when a player takes one of his biggest weaknesses and turns it into one of his biggest strengths. That's exactly what Jaylen has done this season and as a result its opened up his entire offensive game. He doesn't make his leap without an improved handle and I will not debate that fact.
20. Oladipo's return
What an awesome moment this was for a guy who worked like hell to get back. Oladipo then hitting that huge three is the good stuff. A moment that was a year in the making.
21. Harden and Westbrook actually working
A lot of people didn't think this pairing would work given that both players are extremely ball dominant. Well, they turned out to be the highest scoring backcourt in the league and since they went to their small ball approach have been even tougher to stop. Ultimately it comes down to what they can do in the postseason, but watching these two terrorize defenses has been pretty entertaining.
22. Jokic Passing
I love watching Jokic pass the ball. He has some of the best vision in the entire league and has the stones to throw passes that most players wouldn't. I've always been a big assist guy, love elite passing more than almost anything else on the court and Jokic sure has that.
23. Chris Paul comeback season
Jokes on all of us who thought maybe Chris Paul was a little washed up. Turns out it was just a health issue he had in Houston because his 2019 season has been nails. A nice 17.7/4.9/6.8 on 48/36% shooting and the Thunder sitting in the 5 seed, CP3 has been every bit the Point Gawd he built his reputation around being.
24. Killer Kawhi
One of the most lethal players we have, watching Kawhi is like poetry in motion. When he's actually active he's been a joy to watch and a nice reminder that he can win a title all by himself.
25. Mike Breen's Bang
Man do I miss this call more and more with each passing day. Especially with all the big time matchups we would have had to end the season. Love Mike Breen and miss him dearly.
It would have been irresponsible for me to leave Tacko off this list.
27. Bradley Beal scoring
Pretty bullshit that Bradley Beal wasn't an All Star, I mean you ask me and 30/4/6 is usually good enough to get you selected. Lost in a disaster season for the Wizards has been Beal's outrageous offensive season, dropping 50 back to back, he's basically been the only reason you watch this team on League Pass. Too bad he signed that extension in WSH, he needs to get outta there.
28. Inside the NBA
Thursdays just haven't been the same.
29. Siakam spinmove
Everyone thought the Raptors would fall off when Kawhi dipped. What was apparently overlooked was the development of Pascal Siakam into a legit #1 option. One of the things that makes him so devastating to guard is his patented spin move. When Spicy P unleashes that move there's really nothing you can do. Even if you know it's coming as a defender he still gets it off and scores on you. The Raptors went into the hiatus as a 2 seed and Siakam and that move are a big reason why.
30. Elite handles
Call me crazy but I am a big time fan of fancy dribbling. Nowadays everyone has elite handles and it makes things pretty enjoyable to watch. So far this season has given us our fair share of dribbling brilliance.
31. Kemba's stepback
Had to sneak this one in there. When Kemba's knee is right and he has his quickness there are few defenders on the planet that can stay in front of him. When he unleashes that stepback? Forget about it
OK, time for more 2K until my eyes bleed.