This past NBA season was one of the most intense in recent memory. Neither fans nor the players had any indication how it would all play out. However, regardless of what’s going on in the world, these teams show up with the desire to win, and that’s what keeps this sport moving forward. This season we witnessed a lot of new developments as some players dropped off and others rose to become the best in the league. Overall, these players were some of the most impressive of the year due to their dynamic playing styles.
James Harden seemed like he was in a rut in his last few seasons with the Houston Rockets. His attitude and ego had gotten away from him between the battles with management and fighting with fans on social media. On the court, he was clearly experiencing the effects of tilt, and it had taken away from his playing.
While some athletes refuse to acknowledge these effects, mental coach Jared Tendler has discussed it at length. In his book, Tendler draws from years of experience as a mental coach for professional golfers to explain how tilt can greatly affect an athlete’s performance. Since Harden has left the Rockets and joined the Nets, he has left all of this negativity behind, and he has returned to his All-Star levels of performance.
This past season, Harden returned in a big way. Now that he is healthy and on a new team with talent and championship prospects, his stats have gone through the roof. At moments, it looked like Harden was the best player in the league as his aggressive style of play came back. Harden was averaging 24.6 points per game this season, and this is in addition to his contributions through rebounds and assists.
This past season, Rudy Gobert once again reminded the league why he is the best defensive player alive. Gobert is an absolute defensive phenom that can cover more ground and trip up opposing players better than anyone. Standing at 7’1” with a wingspan of 7’ 9”, Gobert is massive and knows how to use his reach to disrupt players as they try to pass and score.
For his incredible playing this season, he was awarded his 3rd Defensive Player of the Year award. Gobert made his presence felt every time he stepped on the court for the Jazz. He was #1 in total rebounds with 960, #1 in blocks with 190, and #1 in defensive win shares with 5.2. Rudy Gobert is shaping up to be one of the greatest defensive players of all time.
Steph Curry has lasted another year being one of the best NBA players in the world. At this point, his career has been phenomenal, and if he was on any other team, he would likely have several more championships to his name. Many NBA analysts believe he is the best shooter in history, and LeBron James said he deserved the MVP award for 2021. While he did not win MVP, he was awarded the ESPY Award for Best NBA Player.
Curry is an incredibly versatile point guard that moves at a rapid pace and understands where the opportunities lie. Instead of forcing plays, he looks for openings and sinks his shot, making him very difficult to play against. Curry has been averaging an astounding 32 points per game and has a .916 free throw percentage.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the most exceptional players in the NBA today. At 26 years old, Antetokounmpo has been on a mission to prove himself as one of the all-time greats of the sport alongside players like LeBron James or Nikola Jokic. The towering Greek athlete singlehandedly pushed the Milwaukee Bucks into the postseason again in 2021.
However, this time the Bucks didn’t exit the playoffs with a near victory. Antetokounmpo claimed his first NBA championship this week and proved to the world that he is one of the most dominating basketball players in the sport today. While he’s averaging 28.1 points per game and covering the entire court, no one will dispute this.