Top Plays
Top Plays

Top Plays Theatre: Ranking 2018-19's best plays

Khari Arnold, NBA.com

Jan 5, 2019 2:44 AM ET

James Harden reacts after hitting the game-winning 3-pointer against the Warriors in Oakland.

(Jan. 4) -- Last season, James Harden's brutal crossover on Wesley Johnson highlighted his Kia MVP campaign and earned a spot in our ranking of the best 10 plays of the year.

Fast-forward to 2019 and his sensational game-winner in overtime against the Warriors may be that defining moment of what could be another MVP season.

He immediately vaulted to No. 1 in the Kia MVP Ladder and, as you may have guessed it, the Top Plays Theatre countdown.

* * *

 

1. James Harden, Houston Rockets | Jan. 3 vs. Warriors

Harden put a cap on the best game of the season to date by hitting a contested 3 over two elite defenders with 1 second left in overtime against the defending champs. Yeah, he wants MVP.

 

 

2. Jimmy Butler, Philadelphia 76ers | Nov. 17 vs. Hornets

Jimmy Butler wasted no time labeling himself as the Sixers’ go-to specialist in the clutch, drilling the game-winner in overtime at Charlotte just five days after joining the team. He put his cold-blooded dexterity on display a week later with a 3-pointer in Brooklyn. Consider both the top play of the year.

 

 

3. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks | Dec. 23 vs. Trail Blazers

Teenage sensation Luka Doncic has already established himself as one of the league’s clutch scorers, shooting 55 percent from the field and over 40 from the perimeter in the final five minutes of games within five points. His corner 3 at the buzzer to force overtime in Portland has been the highlight of his nascent career so far (albeit in what ultimately was a loss) and one of the best in the NBA this season.  

 

 

4. Giannis Antetokounmpo | Jan. 1 vs. Pistons

A fadeaway dunk. Only Giannis.

 

 

5. Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz | Nov. 7 vs. Mavericks

We saw Donovan Mitchell take flight in the throwback Jazz threads during last year's slam dunk competition. He's now donning the fresh uniform in live action and making actual defenders his props.

 

 

6. Miles Bridges, Charlotte Hornets | Nov. 6 vs. Hawks

The Hornets rookie showed us his hops in NBA Summer League, preseason and right here with this filthy slam over Dewayne Dedmon. Let’s hope his next showing is in front of the Charlotte crowd during All-Star weekend. Get this man in the dunk contest.

 

 

7. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans | Oct. 26 vs. Nets

A clever pump fake left Jared Dudley in the dust, which set up a dunk that put Jarrett Allen on a poster. Every angle of this jam is unbelievable.  

 

 

8. Jarrett Allen, Brooklyn Nets | Dec. 18 vs. Lakers

He's found himself on the wrong end at times, but Nets center Jarrett Allen has proven he’s never afraid to challenge the game’s biggest stars at the rim. That includes LeBron James.

 

 

9. Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers | Jan 4. vs. Bulls

Clearly, the bank is still open during extra hours.

 

 

10. Dennis Smith Jr., Dallas Mavericks | Dec. 29 vs. Pelicans

In the same building as No. 7, the Mavericks' second-year guard showed absolutely no mercy on this aggressive jam over Julius Randle.

 


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