Top 20 Plays of the 2013-14 NBA Season In First Half of Year
Top 20 Plays of 2013-14 NBA Season Up to Now
The 2013-14 NBA season now has three months under its belt and it’s already been quite memorable. Whether you’ll remember it for individual performances, the breakout of young stars, the plethora of talent around the league, the weakness of the Eastern Conference, or for Nick Young doing hilarious Swaggy P things, this season has been something worth keeping in the annuls of your mind.
For me, arguably the greatest thing that’s happened this season has been the massive amount of talent that we’ve seen spread throughout the league. Unheralded guys who have been around are stepping up big, young players are establishing themselves as the next generation of stars in this league, borderline stars from years past have become legitimate game-changers, and the superstars have played like superstars.
The talent throughout the league was never more evident than on Thursday night as the reserves for the 2014 NBA All-Star Game were announced. After the reserves’ names were called on the “Inside the NBA” broadcast, there were obviously people talking about who got snubbed and who deserved a nod. However, the problem that arose was that it was hard to figure out who you would take off of the rosters for those snubs to have a spot. That’s a testament to how deep the talent pool in the league is right now.
With all of the talent that is dispersed throughout the NBA right now, that opens up the door to highlights galore. It seems like every night that a player is doing something spectacular that gets social media and the rest of the internet buzzing. We’re just a little past the halfway point in the season, so there’s surely more highlights to come. Looking at the first three months of the season, though, here are the top 20 plays in the NBA.
20. Jan Vesely Finishes with Authority in Transition – Dec. 16, 2013
Jan Vesely and highlight aren’t exactly used in the sentence too often. However, when Vesely caught a pass while driving down the middle of the lane on Dec. 16, he knew exactly what to do with it as he put down a strong finish through contact from Amar’e Stoudemire.
19. Gerald Green Doing Gerald Green Things on Fast Break – Jan. 14, 2014
There are a multitude of Gerald Green plays to choose from this season to make this list, but this one stands out to me. Not only is it a solid, high-flying reverse jam, but the viciousness of the pump while he’s in the air makes it look so, so pretty.
18. Stephen Curry Hits First Career Game-Winner – Dec. 11, 2013
If you had told me coming into the season that Stephen Curry didn’t have a game-winner to his name in the NBA, I’d have severely doubted you. However, his clutch jumper to beat the Mavs was indeed the first game-winning shot of his career, which is enough to land him on this list.
17. Monta Ellis Quiets Blazers Comeback with Game-Winner – Dec. 7, 2013
This one was all about the cold-bloodedness of Monta Ellis. The Blazers had all of the momentum after tying the game. That didn’t stop Ellis from taking the rock on the final possession and burying the jumper like it was a breeze.
16. Victor Oladipo Meets, Denies Lillard at Rim – Jan. 8, 2014
Rookie Victor Oladipo has had his share of growing pains this season, but he’s also been no stranger to explosive highlights. While his 360 dunk could easily have made this list, Oladipo rising up to the rim to completely thwart a Damian Lillard dunk attempt is more impressive to me.
15. Jodie Meeks Makes Near-Impossible Angle Look Easy – Jan 14, 2014
Being able to knock down shots from behind the backboard is a great skill if you’re playing H-O-R-S-E. However, it’s hardly a high-percentage field goal attempts. Don’t tell Jodie Meeks that, though.
14. Joe Johnson Buries Game-Winner Over Serge Ibaka – Jan. 2, 2014
Whenever Joe Johnson gets the ball in his hands and goes “Iso-Joe,” it’s a good time. Whenever time is winding down in a close game and “Iso-Joe” turns into a game-winner over elite shot-blocker Serge Ibaka, all you can do is smile and applaud.
13. Avery Bradley’s Behind-the-Backboard Prayer Answered – Dec. 3, 2013
Avery Bradley was asked to be one of the leaders in Boston to start the year. He performed well, but it’s hard to believe that he didn’t have a little luck on his side when he was getting shots like this one to fall.
12. Xavier Henry Puts Jeff Withey on Poster – Nov. 12, 2013
You may have forgotten about Xavier Henry by now since he’s been out for a while due to injury, but he started this season with the Lakers off playing quite well. His most emphatic moment came when he baptized rookie Jeff Withey in the fires of a ferocious one-handed dunk.
11. J.J. Hickson Tells Marvin Williams to Hit the Weight-Room – Nov. 11, 2013
When you think J.J. Hickson, excitement probably isn’t the first word that you associate with him. However, he provided a season’s worth of excitement when he powered through Marvin Williams for a huge jam.
10. Brandan Wright Completely Denies Wesley Matthews – Jan. 18, 2014
In terms of flashiness, Brandan Wright denying Wesley Matthews probably doesn’t break this list for the whole season. What can I say, though—I’m a sucker for a two-handed block where players just snatch shots out of the air.
9. Pero Antic Forces Overtime with Off-Balance Three – Dec. 28, 2013
Rookie Pero Antic has been forced into a bigger role in Atlanta since the Al Horford injury, but he’s clearly benefittied this season from having played overseas for a while before coming to the NBA. That was never more evident than when he effortlessly hit a game-tying, one-legged three under pressure.
8. John Wall Nets Ridiculous Circus Shot After Foul – Jan. 17, 2014
John Wall deservedly was selected as an All-Star reserve after many people thought that he should have been a starting guard in the East. Wall’s had a fantastic season full of explosive plays, but none were as crazy as this shot that he hit after getting fouled hard and while falling to the ground.
7. Andre Iguodala Shows Off Handles, Nearly Finishes – Dec. 17, 2013
Let me just say that this play would have been number one had Andre Iguodala been able to put down the dunk attempt. Still, his ridiculous between-the-legs dribble move on that same play was arguably the best move we’ve seen all season and puts this play high on this list.
6. Brandon Jennings Goes Off Glass to Drummond for the Jam – Nov. 17, 2013
One of the things that makes Andre Drummond such a highly thought of prospect—other than his ability to fill a box score—is his explosiveness and big-play ability. Combining that with the creativity and enigmatic nature of Brandon Jennings gets you highlight plays like this oop off of a fast break.
5. Stephen Curry Hits Andrew Bogut for Ridiculous Oop – Jan. 5, 2014
We’ve seen a few off-the-backboard alley-oops in games this season (like the one at number six), but when Stephen Curry “unintentionally” finger-rolled it off the backboard to Andrew Bogut in traffic, it was one of the most brilliant plays of the year.
4. Carmelo Anthony Drops 62 – Jan. 24, 2014
Carmelo Anthony had one of the more remarkable single-game performances that we’ve seen in a while. Looking back, there wasn’t just one play from his 62-point game that stood out. As a result, we’ll just call the whole night one giant scoring blur and give it its own spot on this list.
3. Paul George’s 360-Windmill – Jan. 18, 2014
In 2012, before his rise to stardom, Paul George competed in the dunk contest. However, he didn’t win, largely because his best dunk was done in the dark as he tried to make it glow in the dark. Without the theatrics, though, George threw down nearly the same dunk about two weeks ago in-game and, after seeing it with the lights on, he probably should have a dunk contest trophy to his name.
2. Blake Griffin Destroys Kris Humphries – Jan. 8, 2014
If you’re in the lane when Blake Griffin is charging with a full head of steam, he is more than likely going to make you regret that decision. Kris Humphries learned that the hard way early in January.
1. Kevin Durant’s 2013-14 NBA Season
I’m supposed to be looking at individual plays here—I get that. However, you can’t just pick one play from the body of work that Kevin Durant has been building this year. Particularly in his recent run of 12 consecutive 30-point games, everything Durant has done has been a highlight. He’s truly been on a run almost unlike anything we have ever seen in the NBA. For that, we’re just going to count his season highlights as the top play of this year thus far.