What a wild NBA campaign we had witnessed in 2020-21. There has been craziness every day, star players emerging out of the left field, and some wild trades being made. Let’s look back at some of the highlights.
Julius Randle, Superstar
Nobody took the Knicks seriously two summers ago. They whiffed on Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, who opted to play for the Brooklyn Nets. They failed to land the #1 pick in the lottery and ended up with RJ Barrett instead of Zion Williamson.
And they signed five big men. One of whom was Julius Randle. He had been good before, but never GREAT. What he has done for New York this year, making them a playoff team and upping his averages across the board, has been incredible. He is now a bonafide star and a legitimate building block for the future.
He proves people wrong every day. He is a top NBA player. An All-Star, and likely the most-improved winner.
Nets Acquire James Harden, Go Small
Brooklyn entered the year with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in tow. The roster looked good enough to be a winner. About a month into the season, though, they were part of a wild four-team trade. Jarrett Allen would be shipped out. Victor Oladipo would switch teams. And the team had to part with its beloved budding star Caris LeVert to make it happen.
They acquired an unhappy James Harden from Houston. And there was a stretch earlier in the year where he led them to a 16-1 record over a 17-game stretch, with rare appearances from Kyrie and 0 from Durant.
The team now has a big three, and come playoff time when they are all healthy, they will be pretty much unstoppable.
The Return of Steph Curry
Nobody is truly surprised by how well Stephen Curry is playing this year. But, the fact that he is putting up incredible numbers every single night is telling. He doesn’t need stars around him like Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson (get well soon) to put up big numbers and guide his team to victories.
The record hasn’t been great, but the Dubs are destined for the play-in tournament. Curry is averaging an NBA-best 31.3 points per game. He’s making north of five triples per game. And he leads the league with eight games of over 40 points. Only playing in five games last year did nothing to keep him from returning to greatness.
Jazz and Suns Leading the Pact
When asked who they expected the best teams to be this year, many answered with the Lakers and Clippers. Some may have said the Nuggets. The 76ers, or Bucks. But, who has the best record in the league? The Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz have been the best teams in the league, record-wise.
The Suns went 8-0 in the bubble a season ago and then proceeded to trade for Chris Paul. It may have been pre-destined. But snapping a 10-year playoff drought by having a 46-19 campaign with seven left? Incredible.
Utah blew a 3-1 lead in the first round of the playoffs. They got Bojan Bogdanovic back after he was out from March 2020 onwards and brought Derrick Favors home. That was really all they did. But, here they are. Armed with weapons and dangerous on both offense and defense.
The road to the finals will still be a brutal one, but both Utah and Phoenix went from ‘capable of consistent wins’, to real contenders.
We hope you enjoyed our look back on the 2021 NBA season. But, in case you missed it, take a look at our last article … Look Back at the 2021 NCAA Tournament.