The NBA is the ultimate league of fame and individual stardom. With 10 players on the court, individual dominance stands out like no other sport. In a renaissance of great players, Russell Westbrook and James Harden are putting up numbers we haven’t seen in generations. Westbrook is averaging 30.7 points per game, 10.3 assists per game, and 10.5 rebounds per game. The Beard is averaging 28.7 points per game, 11.7 assists per game, and 8.3 rebounds per game. Russell is first in player efficiency (PER) and James is 5th in the league. This requires a look back at some of the best individual seasons that have ever graced the NBA court. While everyone is talking about Harden and Westbrook, remember, there’s a guy they are chasing:
5. Kobe Bryant (2005-2006)
Kobe Bryant averaged 35 points per game during this turbulent year for the Lakers. The team had moved on from Shaquille O’Neal and it was completely Bryant’s show. The Black Mamba did not disappoint. Bryant pulled out all the stops to show the world that it was his team and he could handle the load. Kobe was playing with the likes of Kwame Brown and Smush Parker- yikes! Kobe dropped 81 points on the Toronto Raptors this year and still lost the MVP race to Steve Nash. It probably had to do with the fact that the Suns and Nash were the #1 seed and the Lakers were the 8th seed. On the other hand, the Lakers did hold a 3-1 lead in their first-round series with the Suns before faltering late.
4. Shaquille O’Neal (1999-2000)
Shaq Diesel was a beast, and it is easy to forget these days with the way the NBA has shifted gears. O’Neal averaged 30 points, 13 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game during the 1999-2000 season. Shaq also had a 30.65 PER and helped guide the Lakers to 67 wins. The Big Aristotle hit 57 percent of his shots and ended up winning the NBA Finals and NBA Finals MVP.
3. Stephen Curry (2015-16)
Steph Curry had a year to remember during the 2015-16 season. Coming off an NBA championship, Curry decided to light the league on fire. Steph averaged 30 points per game (less than 35 minutes per game), 7 assists per game, 5 rebounds per game and 2 steals per game. Curry also had a 31.46 PER during the season. To top himself from the previous season, Curry hit 400 three-pointers (nobody had surpassed 300 before him) and joined the 50-40-90 club. All of this led to Curry becoming the first ever unanimous MVP of the league.
2. Wilt Chamberlain (1961-62)
Everyone remembers Wilt for his 100-point game. It wasn’t just one game for Wilt. In 1961-62, Wilt had one of the greatest seasons ever. Chamberlain averaged 50 points per game. Let that sink in for a moment. In addition to the 50 points, Chamberlain averaged 26 rebounds per game. Wilt also had a PER of 31.82 during that season and had his 100-point performance. All of this and he lost the MVP to Bill Russell- not a bad person to lose to.
1. Oscar Robertson (1961-62)
This is the guy that Harden and Westbrook are chasing this season. Robertson averaged a triple-double in the 1961-62 season. Oscar averaged 31 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 11 assists per game for the Cincinnati Royals. The Big O had 41 triple-double performances during the 82 game season. Robertson did this all on a pretty underwhelming Cincinnati team. At the time, most of the great players were either in Boston or Los Angeles. Still, to average a triple-double, an amazing feat no doubt.