Steph Curry was dazzling, triple-threat Russell Westbrook was historic and other NBA superlatives

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Another NBA regular season is complete.

The 2020-21 campaign is in the books following a frantic finish to a year that got underway after the shortest offseason in league history.

Before the play-in tournament begins and leads us into the playoffs, let's take a moment to look back at the best, worst and weirdest from 2020-21 with our regular season superlatives:

Best individual performance of the year

Steph Curry has often made any shot he has taken this year. But this was something else. Curry posted a career-high 62 points against Portland on Jan. 3 while shooting 18-of-31 from the field, 8-of-16 from 3-point range and 18-of-19 from the free-throw line. Teammate Draymond Green observed that Curry "came out looking like a man on a mission" amid criticism about opening the season shooting only a combined 42-of-100 in his first five games. That sparked commentary that Curry would struggle all season amid a season-ending injury to Klay Thompson and adjustments with a young roster. Not the case. The Warriors are considered a threat in the play-in-tournament because Curry has consistently dazzled with performances like he showed against Portland. Medina

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Game of the year

Philadelphia 76ers 107, Los Angeles Lakers 106 (Jan. 27) — LeBron James had 34 points, seven assists and six rebounds. Anthony Davis had 23 points and eight rebounds. Joel Embiid scored 28 points, Tobias Harris had 24 and Ben Simmons had a triple-double with 17 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. James was given a flagrant foul 1 for his shove against Embiid. A late Lakers 13-0 run — capped by Davis’ bucket — put the Lakers up 106-105 with 11.2 seconds left in the fourth quarter, but Harris’ jump shot with three seconds to go gave the Sixers the victory. Was that game a possible Finals preview? — Zillgitt

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Most disappointing team

New Orleans Pelicans. Zion Williamson enjoyed a breakout season and was an All-Star, but the Pelicans couldn’t find the team success to match. Even after Jrue Holiday was traded in the offseason, a young core led by Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball was expected to at least compete for a play-in spot and potentially more. Instead, first-year coach Stan Van Gundy never got total buy-in on the defensive end, and the Pelicans finished 11th in the West. Honorable mention: Boston Celtics. — Eppers

Favorite Russell Westbrook triple-double

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So many to choose from — 38 to be precise. A 40-point triple-double is special. But players hit the 40-mark regularly. We’re enamored with the 14-point, 24-assist, 20-rebound triple-double. Just one other player has reached 20 assists this season, and there have been 34 20-rebound performances. But Westbrook is the only one with 20 rebounds and 20 assists in the same game, and he and Wilt Chamberlain are the only players hitting a triple-double with 20 rebounds and 20 assists. Westbrook has done it twice. And he did it in a win in a game against Indiana the Washington Wizards needed to win. — Zillgitt

Best dunk of the year

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It came down to two: Minnesota rookie Anthony Edwards’ dunk on Toronto’s Yuta Watanabe, and Charlotte forward Miles Bridges’ throw-down on Clint Capela. Both dunks were forceful, impressive, over a defender and gained a lot of notoriety. The slight edge goes to Bridges, who has a collection of dunks that could contend for dunk of the season in 2020-21. Watanabe really wasn’t trying to defend the dunk. However, Capela, proven rim defender, went up to block Bridges who still hammered it home. — Zillgitt

Most quotable

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Draymond Green has always been a great quote, and he had so many this season that it was impossible to pick just one as the quote of the year. There was his impassioned take on a double-standard for player treatment. There was his hilarious and profane takedown of Rodney McGruder that gave us the "I'm Rockin with Juan T" shirt. And he'll never pass up an opportunity to tell you he's the best defensive player ever. — Eppers

Surprise team of the year

Phoenix Suns. It’s not surprising the Suns would become a playoff contender. Then won all eight of their seed-in games in the bubble because of a quality young roster and superb coaching. They then acquired Chris Paul. It is surprising, however, that the Suns already have become a championship contender. Usually, that takes time. But Paul has maximized his value with his health, performances and leadership just as he did last year in Oklahoma City. Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton continue to blossom as young stars. So even if the Suns are not the NBA title favorite, don’t be surprised if they win the trophy. — Medina

The Suns were expected to compete for a playoffs spot after their play in the NBA bubble last season. But few observers thought they would take such a large leap forward.
The Suns were expected to compete for a playoffs spot after their play in the NBA bubble last season. But few observers thought they would take such a large leap forward.

Coach on the hottest season

Boston’s Brad Stevens received full support from president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, who said, "Brad Stevens is not the real issue" for Boston’s disappointing season. Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, when asked Thursday, wasn’t ready to commit to more seasons of Scott Brooks. If Luke Walton coached another team, he might be in more danger. But the budget-conscious Kings may not be willing to pay Walton $11.5 million not to coach. It might just be Portland’s Terry Stotts, who is an excellent coach but has been with Portland since 2012. A lot of playoff appearances but just one conference finals. It’s not that Stotts failed. It’s could be time for a change to see what a new coach can do with that group. — Zillgitt

Unless his team makes a deep playoff run, Blazers coach Terry Stotts' job could be in jeopardy.
Unless his team makes a deep playoff run, Blazers coach Terry Stotts' job could be in jeopardy.

Best finish of the season

Sacramento Kings 124, Denver Nuggets 122 in overtime (Dec. 23) — Buddy Hield gave us the best finish all way the back on the second day of the season. Tied with 6.5 seconds left in overtime, Denver inbounded the ball to Nikola Jokic above the 3-point line. Harrison Barnes knocked the ball away from Jokic. De'Aaron Fox corralled the ball and got it to Barnes on the break. Barnes attempted a dunk and drew back iron, but Hield was in perfect position to tip in the miss and run off the floor with Sacramento's two-point win. — Eppers

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Breakout single-game performance

Kevin Porter Jr. scores 50 points vs. Milwaukee (April 29, 2021). For one night, the Rockets had a feel-good moment after having a frustrating season amid the James Harden drama and subsequent trade and the losses afterwards. Porter became only the third player in NBA history to score 50 points before turning 21 years old. The other players? LeBron James (twice), Brandon Jennings and Devin Booker. Sure, Porter had this career night after Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo left one minute into the game after spraining his right ankle. But that should not diminish Porter’s breakout-game after averaging 16.6 points all season. Porter shot efficiently from the field (16-of-26), from 3-point range (9-of-15) and from the free-throw line (9-of-11) while also adding 11 assists. — Medina

Top free agents available

For the sake of this exercise, we’re going to include unrestricted free agents only (no restricted free agents) even if they have a player option:

Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers

Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors

Mike Conley, Utah Jazz

Chris Paul, Phoenix Suns

Victor Oladipo, Miami Heat

- Zillgitt

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Top team to watch for 2021-22

Memphis Grizzlies. One of the league's most promising young teams continued its upward trajectory, and did so without one of its best players for much of the season. Ja Morant developed into a superstar while leading the Grizzlies back to the play-in tournament after playing in the inaugural version in the Orlando bubble. Dillon Brooks, Brandon Clarke and rookie Desmond Bane emerged as good young role players around Morant. And Jaren Jackson Jr. returned from a meniscus injury late in the season, giving Memphis fans reason to hope the Grizzlies can emulate the Phoenix Suns of this season and make a big jump into playoff contention. — Eppers

With Ja Morant turning into a superstar, the Grizzlies may be on the verge of making a tall leap next season.
With Ja Morant turning into a superstar, the Grizzlies may be on the verge of making a tall leap next season.

Scoring title goes down to the wire

The NBA’s scoring title came down to the final day of the regular season. Headed into Sunday’s games, Washington’s Bradley Beal averaged 31.4 points, a fraction behind Golden State star Steph Curry’s 31.8. Essentially Beal needed a monster game in the finale against Charlotte and Curry needed a low-scoring game for Beal to win. Beal had 25 against the Hornets and finished with at 31.3 points per game. Curry needed just five points against Memphis to secure his second scoring title. He had nine in the first quarter. In his 12th NBA season, Curry registered the highest scoring average of his career. — Zillgitt

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, Draymond Green lead NBA superlatives