The Best Of 2016-17: Joel Embiid Lives, Klay Thompson Kills And More
We did it! The NBA’s regular season wraps up Wednesday, which means we all made it through another season without taking any DNP-rests. While the playoffs will bring us another batch of memories, crotch slaps, taunts and crushing defeats, the end of the regular season is a time for reflection. So here are some of my favorite moments from the last seven months. (Apologies in advance if I left out your favorite moment.)
Remember how fun Joel Embiid was? For 31 glorious games, former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie was cackling while sitting on a pile of second-round draft picks that no longer exist, watching the world burn around him as Embiid looked like a perennial MVP candidate in the making.
The NBA needs more guys like Embiid—extremely talented and fun-loving goofballs. Here’s hoping Embiid comes back fully healthy next season. In the meantime, let’s look back on some highlights from Embiid’s debut:
I struggle to care about Devin Booker’s 70-point game because this was the most impressive scoring display of the season. Thompson scored over two points per minute he was on the court! And like all great things in life, this game left us wanting more, because Thompson sat the fourth quarter, leaving us to wonder just how high he could have climbed.
If Dion Waiters doesn’t sprain his ankle, he is the MVP and leading the Heat to a first-round upset over the Cavaliers or Celtics.
Kevin Durant’s return to Oklahoma City didn’t result in an entertaining game, but we did get to see him and Russell Westbrook yap at each other on the court. And in a nod to Lee Jenkins’s stellar reporting from his Westbrook cover story, there were lots of cupcake references.
The Kawhi Leonard-as-MVP hype entered overdrive the night he hit a game-winning three and blocked James Harden on back-to-back possessions.
Somebody is giving him a max contract.
Nurkic made his former team (and SI’s Ben Golliver!) look extra foolish when he dropped 33 on the Nuggets while leading the Blazers’ late-season revival.
One last reminder that the Warriors blew a 3–1 lead in the NBA Finals.
And here’s some bonus LeBron partying content. We’re glad he enjoyed himself at the party we threw for him. (I guess my invite got lost in the mail.)
This didn’t bury the hatchet, but damn it was cool.
This should be worth more than two points.
How does this not make you smile every time?
Every single night Russell Westbrook took the court was a moment. I don’t know how you distill his season into one play or even one game. No one dominated the conversation like Russ did this season.