Ah yes, the 2016-17 NBA regular season is officially in the books. The real fun starts this weekend with the first round of the playoffs set to begin on Saturday. But first, let’s take a look back at the regular season for a moment, specifically the best individual performances.
There were a couple of players who really brought it on several occasions this season and they deserve to be mentioned. Here are the eight best individual performances from the 2016-17 season.
8. Anthony Davis fills up the stat box in season opener
Think Davis was ready for the start of the 2016-17 season? He came out on Oct. 26 guns blazing against the Denver Nuggets. Even though the New Orleans Pelicans lost the season opener, it wasn’t because Davis didn’t give it his all. He finished with 50 points, 16 rebounds, seven steals, five assists and four blocks.
It was the first 50-point, 15-rebound, 5-assist, 5-steal performance in NBA history since steals were officially recorded in the 1973-74 season.
7. Kawhi Leonard goes for 39 points, hits clutch 3-pointer and blocks James Harden to seal win
Leonard’s stat line against the Houston Rockets on Mar. 6 won’t blow you away compared to some of the other performances this season, but he looked the part of a MVP candidate while leading the San Antonio Spurs to a hard-fought victory over their intrastate rivals.
After hitting a clutch 3-pointer to put the Spurs on top with 25 seconds remaining, Leonard blocked James Harden’s layup attempt on the other end to help seal the win for San Antonio.
That seven-second sequence by Leonard was special. Not many players can do that.
6. Damian Lillard scores franchise-high 59 points
Lillard always seems to fly under the radar despite being a top-10 scorer this season, but there was no ignoring his 59-point performance against the Utah Jazz on Apr. 8. The Portland Trail Blazers guard eclipsed Damon Stoudemire’s 54 points in 2005 for the previous franchise-high. His performance also helped the Trail Blazers keep the eighth spot in a tight race in the West.
Lillard’s impressive feat didn’t come against a poor defensive team either as the Jazz allowed the fewest points per game this season.
5. Russell Westbrook scores 57 points in triple-double, leads Thunder to largest comeback in team history
On Mar. 29 against the Orlando Magic, Westbrook showed Harden that “anything you can do I can do better”, besting the Houston star’s 53 points in a triple-double with 57. The Oklahoma City guard also led his team to the largest comeback in franchise history, rallying the Thunder from a 21-point deficit in the second half.
Westbrook’s 3-pointer with seven seconds remaining in regulation forced overtime and the Thunder won 114-106.
4. James Harden has first 50-point, 15-assist, 15-rebound game in NBA history
Harden had several noteworthy performances to choose from this season, but his 53-point, 17-assist, 16-rebound game against the New York Knicks on New Year’s Eve was the first of its kind. He also tied Wilt Chamberlain for the most points scored in a triple-double, that is until Westbrook bested the mark with 57.
That said, Harden reached 53 points on 26 shots while Westbrook took 40 shots to get to 57 points. The Beard was a little more efficient in his performance.
3. Russell Westbrook sets triple-double record, hits game-winner vs. Nuggets
Westbrook’s 42nd triple-double of the season was probably the sweetest. Not only did he break Oscar Robertson’s record for most triple-doubles in a season, he also won the game for the Thunder with a 3-pointer from about 36 feet.
Westbrook finished with 50 points against the Denver Nuggets, the third 50-point triple-double of his career and the most by any player in NBA history. Some might argue that he captured the MVP award with that performance, but we’ll see what happens in June.
2. Devin Booker drops 70 points on Celtics
Although the Phoenix Suns lost the game, Booker stole the show with a 70-point performance on Mar. 24 at The Garden, even earning praise from the Celtics fans. At 20 years old, Booker became the youngest player in NBA history to score 70, or even 60 points in a game.
Ironically enough, the last player to score 70 points in a game was Kobe Bryant, who after his final game in Phoenix gifted Booker a signed pair of shoes with the message “be legendary.” The second-year guard obviously took Bryant’s message to heart.
1. Klay Thompson scores 60 points in 29 minutes
Thompson got off to a slow start to the year as the Golden State Warriors adjusted to having Kevin Durant in the lineup, but he quickly turned things around with a 60-point performance at Oracle Arena against the Indiana Pacers on Dec. 5 that silenced the critics. It was the highest-scoring output by a Golden State player in more than 42 years and a career-best for Thompson, who became the first player in NBA history to score 60 points in less than 30 minutes of action.
Thompson took a seat on the bench with 1:22 left in the third quarter. Who knows, maybe he could’ve scored 80 if he played the fourth quarter.