Stempak: Ranking the top NBA individual seasons of the 2010s
R.J. Stempak | Tuesday, April 11, 2017
In light of Russell Westbrook’s 42nd triple-double on Sunday, which broke Oscar Robertson’s single-season record that has stood since the 1961-62 season, I want to reflect on the greatest individual seasons of the 2010’s. The four I have picked out to rank are Westbrook 16-17, LeBron 12-13, Kevin Durant 13-14 and finally Steph Curry 15-16.
Let’s start with last place out of the four: KD’s MVP season. During the season, the Durantala averaged 32 points, over seven rebounds and nearly six assists, all of this at a 56 effective shooting percentage. Durant was unstoppable offensively in this season, as he still is today, but he was without Westbrook for half of the year. Some other highlights for Durant that season included securing the second seed in the Western conference, scoring at least 25 points in 41 straight games and a trip to the Western Conference finals.
His MVP season solidified Durant as a top two or three player in the league, and a historical talent that is unlike anything the NBA has seen before; a seven-footer with an automatic jumper up to thirty feet. That being said, Durant did not win a championship, nor broke any longstanding records, so he is at the bottom of the list.
Second last, and this one is going to get the most disagreement, is Russell Westbrook during this year. Sure, his stats are unbelievable. He has a triple-double average, more triple-doubles in a single season than anyone else before him and most impressively solid playoff position in a difficult conference with a team built for him and Durant, minus Durant.
Brodie, Beastbrook, Mr. Triple Double or whatever you want to call him is very deserving for the most valuable player award this year. And because everyone is so obsessed with arbitrary cutoffs, he is probably going to win it.
But I cannot put Westbrook above LeBron’s or Steph’s seasons because his stats are empty compared to these other two great years. For all his efforts, the Thunder are only the sixth seed, and his 8.6 uncontested rebounds per game leads the league. He is padding his rebound stats to adhere to the media and the NBA fanbase who will reward him. But his performance is not as impressive as Curry or James.
So let’s get into the second best season of the 2010’s, Steph Curry in 2015-2016. All of these stats I am about to throw out are just a footnote to the one stat that matters, 73 wins. 73 wins. The team lost less than 10 games all season. In an era where resting stars is common and only championships matter, this team did not take 10 games off all season.
And it is because of the incredible talent of their best player, Steph Curry. Stat number one: 402 threes made, good for most in a season ever. For reference, Curry is currently at 313 for this season, which is second place all time by nearly 30. Third place? Again Curry at 286 in 14-15.
To get those 400 three pointers, Curry averaged over 5 made threes per game, shooting over 45 percent from behind the arc. That volume and accuracy is unheard of.
He had 66.9% true shooting, while averaging 30.1 points per game, all in only 34 minutes per game.
The combination of volume and efficiency, all while in limited minutes, is something we will never see again.
Every defense focused on Curry all year, and he drained a three in their face every time, 402 times to be exact. This has to be in the top two greatest offensive seasons of all time. The only thing holding it back is the giant loss Curry took in the finals.
Speaking of that loss Curry took, lets talk about the guy who gave it to him, Mr. LeBron James. James’ 12-13 season was the peak year of the second-best player in the history of the NBA. To top it off, he won the championship, so this is the greatest season of the 2010’s.
Let’s look at these stats. He tallied over 56 percent from the field, over 40 percent from three and 64 true shooting — only three points below Curry. LeBron averaged 26.8 points, eight rebounds and over seven assists for the 66-win Heat. This team was as flashy as it was deadly, and James was Commander-in-Chief.
James’s season will go down without a doubt as one of the best in history.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.