June 15 - With the 2016-17 NBA season officially over, the tough task of reviewing the best plays from another thrilling year is upon us. Here at Top Plays Theatre, we've kept track of the best highlights throughout the season and even re-shuffled here and there as players continued to do the unimaginable. Now, it's time to do one final evaluation and look back at the top 10 plays of the regular season. Let the ranking begin.
1. WHY NOT?!
After almost ending his record-setting night for triple-doubles with a loss in Denver, Russell Westbrook pulled up and drained the most exciting shot of the season at the buzzer. His deep 3-pointer gave him 50 points on the night and his first career buzzer-beater. While it was Westbrook's third 50-point triple-double of the season -- a record of its own -- it was also his 42nd on the year, which broke Oscar Robertson's single-season record that lasted 55 years. Yeah, he made sure to cap that night with a victory.
2. Hello Brooklyn
Lakers fans often make their appearances at road games, so it's never a surprise to see pleasant reactions for the purple and gold outside of Staples Center. But when the opposing team can barely control themselves after a play, that's an entirely different story. Take a close look at the Nets bench in awe of what Larry Nance Jr. just did to Brook Lopez.
3. Big Four Takeover
During a jaw-dropping, 60-point night from Klay Thompson against the Pacers, the Warriors' other three All-Stars found time to put together a highlight of their own. The fast break starts with a spot-on pass from Draymond Green and ends with Stephen Curry throwing an overhead lob in mid-air to Kevin Durant. Notice that the ball never even touches the ground. No wonder they led the league in transition scoring.
4. Uncle Drew Rules Again
On Christmas Day, Kyrie Irving gave Cleveland another gift and NBA fans another reason to want to see a Warriors-Cavaliers Part III in June. His clutch jumper served as a flashback to the 2016 Finals and a reminder as to who the defending champs were. The last laugh would later be Golden State's, but Irving stepping up in a rivalry game (again) to sink the last bucket (again) was certainly memorable.
5. LaVine Leaps
There's absolutely no way that when Zach LaVine retires this photo isn't framed to its max capacity somewhere in his house.
6. Thread Meets Needle
You’d think throwing a cross court pass in transition from beyond halfcourt in between the legs of a defender and on target to the beneficiary would be quite the challenge. Just like averaging a triple-double throughout a season would be. Russell Westbrook's 2016-17 in a nutshell seen above.
7. Drama In D.C.
First, let's acknowledge the long outlet pass from Kevin Love, which he clearly has mastered just as well as Kyrie Irving has perfected finishing at the rim. The flick of the wrist and pinpoint accuracy is as pretty as a Hail Mary from Aaron Rodgers, and it's always the former-wide-receiver-turned-freakish-basketball-player LeBron James on the other end. Here against the Wizards, James caught the pass and drilled a crazy turnaround jumper while falling out of bounds as time expired, sending the game to overtime. It was one of the most compelling games of the season and Cleveland would go on to win.
It was simply the Russell Westbrook show this season, and the program continued when he brought out this ridiculous Shammgod dribble in the game's final minutes, easing past Tyler Ulis to the rim. Ulis and the Suns would later get their revenge in the final minutes of their next matchup.
Yes, this is more of a sequence, but with Kawhi Leonard cementing himself as one of the best two-way players in the game, it’s only fair that this is his ‘play,’ and be labeled as a top one of the season. Leonard drained a clutch 3-pointer for the lead, hustled right back to guard James Harden on defense, maneuvered around a screen, then timed his jump perfectly to block Harden from behind, securing a Spurs victory. At the time, it immediately sparked his case for MVP.
10. Richard Hits Rewind
Who would’ve thought a 36-year-old would have one of the best dunks of the season? Then again, his age made this even more impressive. Add his years to the fact that he literally went straight up (most guys choose to cock back on their posters) yet still managed to throw it down with authority on top of a live defender and you have one of the best sights of the season. It had LeBron James searching for the fountain of youth.