Each season there is a selection of performances that are notable because they are unique in the annals of NBA history. This season is no different.
Records could fall. Accomplishments, rare or even completely unprecedented, are being achieved. Greatness is being witnessed.
As we wind down the season there are a few records that have either already been achieved or are right on the precipice of being broken.
Here are this year’s greatest exploits, ranked in order of impressiveness.
Damian Lillard was not a controversial draft pick when the Trail Blazers nabbed him up. He filled their biggest need and was considered to be the best point guard in the draft. Hopes were high for him, but even his most optimistic fans couldn’t have seen this coming.
Lillard is on pace to become only the third rookie in NBA history to score 1,500 points and dish 500 assists. He needs only 109 points and 25 assists to reach the goal, both well within his current pace. If, and when he reaches that, he’ll be the first rookie to ever hit those marks who was not the first overall pick taken in the draft.
Considering the company he’d be keeping is Allen Iverson and Oscar Robertson, bright things indeed should be ahead for Lillard.
Tim Duncan is just the fifth player in NBA history to score 1,000 points, grab 600 boards and block 150 shots past the age of 35. He has apparently found some kind of youth drink because he is averaging two more points and one more rebound than he had a year ago.
At age 36, Duncan is the second-oldest player to accomplish the feat, with only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who did so at age 37, his senior.
The last player before Duncan to achieve this was David Robinson, Duncan’s mentor.
In a quirk of history you just can’t make up, the previous player who accomplished it was Artis Gilmore, who was with the Spurs when they drafted Robinson.
It kind of makes you wonder what Tiago Splitter might do seven years from now.
Two years ago people complained about LeBron James because he didn’t have a post game. So he learned one and won a title. That was the end of that criticism.
So people had to invent a new one (I’m talking to you, Skip Bayless). They complained about his jump shot. So James raised that bar too, lifting the effective field-goal percentage on his jump shot from .430 last year to .482 in just one season, a pretty dramatic spike.
He has now become one of the better three-point shooters in the NBA, knocking down his shots at a .404 clip. Compare that with Kevin Durant’s .410 percentage—and no one criticizes Durant’s jumper.
In fact, in NBA history, James' overall field-goal percentage of .560 is the highest of any player ever who has made at least 100 threes. His percentage is a full 18 points better than John Stockton’s current record of .542.
This particular mix is impressive because it means that a player is taking a high volume of shots from three, but still maintaining a high field-goal percentage while doing so. In fact, only 26 times in history has a player shot over 50 percent in a season in which he made 100 three-point shots.
I guess the next thing is for him to just shave his head. It’s the only thing left to criticize him for.
Kevin Garnett is one of the greatest all-around players in the history of the game, and his overall stats are all you need to see to prove that. When he scored his 25,000th point this year, he became the first player in history to do so with 10,000 boards, 5,000 assists and 1,500 steals and blocks.
In fact even the 25,000/10,000/5,000 club is highly exclusive, consisting of only three names: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone and Garnett.
Considering that Garnett is the only player on that very prestigious list to win both an MVP and a Defensive Player of the Year award, it elevates his status as one of the truly great all-around players in history even more.
Kevin Durant is famously chasing the 50/40/90 club, meaning he has made 50 percent of his field goals, 40 percent of his threes and 90 percent of his free throws. Considering his current percentages are 50.5, 41.0 and 90.8, he’s a shoo-in to become the seventh player in history to maintain those averages with at least 500 field-goal attempts.
But of all these phenomenal shooting performances, which is the best?
Kevin Durant’s .644 true-shooting percentage would be the highest of any player on a very short but highly impressive list.
Steve Nash’s 2008 performance (.641) is the current record, though, a mere three tenths of one percent behind, so Durant needs to make sure he doesn’t fall off if he’s going to hold onto that record.
Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors has a very realistic shot at passing Ray Allen for the all-time single-season record for three-point field goals.
At the time of this writing he has eight games remaining and needs 33 treys to tie the record, 34 to break it. That’s an average of 4.25 per game. It appears that he’s gunning for the record by attempting more shots as well, tossing up 9.7 per game over his last seven, and making 4.7 of them.
He also had a whopping 11 of them in one game February 27, so even if he has a big gap to close on the last day, don’t count him out.
James was just 28 years, 17 days old when he hit his 20,000th. Bryant was 29 years, 122 days. Wilt Chamberlain, at 29 years 134 days, and Michael Jordan at 29 years, 326 days are the only two players who reached the milestone before 30.
James was not only the youngest player to hit the mark, he was also the only one of the players under 30 who also had 5,000 assists and 5,000 rebounds when he did so.
James' greatness is getting to the point where even his biggest critics are going to have to start acknowledging his place among the all-time greats.
With Kobe Bryant moving past Wilt Chamberlain on the all-time scoring list on March 30, he is the fourth leading scorer in NBA history.
It seems like just a matter of time before he passes Jordan. Sure it took him a couple of hundred games more to get past Chamberlain, and sure he'll have a couple of hundred more than Jordan when he passes him too, but this speaks to what makes Bryant one of the 10 greatest players in history.
It’s his longevity. He maintains a high standard year after year. This is his 12th season averaging at least 25 points per game, tying him for the most seasons with that achievement, along with Michael Jordan and Karl Malone.
Nothing to see here; just another year of being an elite scorer from Bryant.