This season might be the best in NBA history. At least statistically.
The super-duper Golden State Warriors — with four players in this Sunday’s All-Star Game — are on pace to win 69 games, with the highest margin of victory of all time, thanks to the greatest offense of all time. Stephen Curry made a record 13 3-pointers against the Pelicans in December. Klay Thompson scored 60 points in 29 minutes against the Pacers. Draymond Green posted a triple-double (12 rebounds, 10 assists, 10 steals) without scoring in doubles figures — the first of its kind in league history. But still: Kevin Durant is their best player.
Do-everything guards Russell Westbrook and James Harden are the front-runners for the MVP award. Westbrook (a league-leading 31.1 points, 10.5 rebounds, 10.1 assists) is aiming to be just the second player and first since Oscar Robertson in 1961-62 to average a triple-double. Harden (29.2 points, 8.3 rebounds and a league-leading 11.3 assists) recorded the first 50-15-15 game in history on New Year’s Eve.
LeBron James is averaging a career-high 8.8 assists for the Cavaliers, who are headed toward a third straight matchup with the Warriors in the NBA Finals.
6-foot-11 Giannis Antetokounmpo (23.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, 5.4 assists) plays every position. 5-9 Isaiah Thomas is averaging 29.9 points. 7-1 Marc Gasol has made 77 3-pointers after hitting 12 in his first eight seasons. John Wall and Gordon Hayward are having breakout seasons. 30-year-old Kyle Lowry gets better with age.
The NBA is so great right now, so fascinating on a nightly basis that it’s time for a review. A quick one. The following is every season in 10 words or less — or the history of the league in fewer than 700 words:
1946-47 | The NBA began as the Basketball Association of America.
1947-48 | Four teams fold before season: Cleveland, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Toronto.
1948-49 | Four teams join league: Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Rochester.
1949-50 | BAA, NBL merge to form National Basketball Association.
1950-51 | Cooper, Clifton and Lloyd are league’s first black players.
1951-52 | Lane widens to 12 feet. Jump-shooting Arizin wins scoring title.
1952-53 | Record set for fouls. Meineke is league’s first ROY.
1953-54 | Mikan, Lakers win third straight title, fifth in six seasons.
1954-55 | 24-second shot clock debuts. NBC begins televising games.
1955-56 | Pettit is league’s first MVP. Arizin leads Warriors to title.
1956-57 | Dynasty begins: Russell, Cousy lead Celtics to first championship.
1957-58 | Pettit leads Hawks to only championship. Stokes has stroke.
1958-59 | Rookie Baylor takes flight. Celtics beat Lakers in Finals.
1959-60 | Rookie Wilt leads league in points, rebounds. Celtics win title.
1960-61 | Lakers move to Los Angeles. West, Oscar make debuts.
1961-62 | Wilt scores 100 in Hershey, averages 50. Oscar averages triple-double.
1962-63 | Warriors move to San Francisco. Celtics win title in Cousy’s farewell season.
1963-64 | Players threaten All-Star Game strike. Russell beats Wilt in Finals.
1964-65 | Warriors trade Wilt. Havlicek stole the ball! Celtics win title.
1965-66 | Celtics win eighth straight championship in Auerbach’s final season.
1966-67 | Russell becomes first black coach. Wilt wins first title.
1967-68 | Wilt leads league in assists. Player-coach Russell leads Celtics.
1968-69 | Rookie Unseld wins MVP. West wins Finals MVP in loss.
1969-70 | Injured Reed (and Frazier) inspire Knicks to first championship.
1970-71 | Alcindor leads Bucks to championship, changes name to Abdul-Jabbar.
1971-72 | Lakers win 33 straight games, title. Logo (West silhouette) debuts.
1972-73 | 76ers lose 73 games. Archibald leads league in points, assists.
1973-74 | Steals, blocks added as statistics. Celtics win classic Finals.
1974-75 | Barry, underdog Warriors sweep Bullets in Finals.
1975-76 | Celtics beat Suns in greatest game. Bucks trade Kareem.
1976-77 | Dr. J, four ABA teams join league. Walton leads Blazermania!
1977-78 | Walton breaks foot. Kermit punches Rudy T. Iceman wins scoring title.
1978-79 | League reaches nadir in popularity. SuperSonics beat Bullets in Finals.
1979-80 | Magic, Bird, 3-pointer debut. Magic plays every position in Finals.
1980-81 | Celtics acquire Parish, draft McHale and win 14th championship.
1981-82 | Riley replaces Westhead, leads Lakers to championship.
1984-85 | Knicks win lottery. Jordan makes debut. Lakers beat Celtics.
1985-86 | Bird, Celtics play beautiful game. Spud dunks. Stern bans Micheal Ray.
1988-89 | Kareem says farewell. Jordan flies over Ehlo. Bad Boys win.
1989-90 | Bad Boys II: Pistons repeat. Divac, Petrovic lead European invasion.
1990-91 | Jordan beats Magic for first title. Run-TMC plays small ball.
1991-92 | Magic is HIV positive, wins All-Star Game MVP. Bird retires.
1992-93 | Rookie Shaq breaks backboards. Bulls three-peat. Jordan retires.
1993-94 | Reggie spikes Lee. Pippen sits out. Nuggets upset Sonics.
1995-96 | Bulls win record 72 games, championship. Magic comes back.
1996-97 | Jordan wins title, flu game. Lakers add Shaq and Kobe.
1997-98 | Sprewell chokes coach. Jordan hits game-winner in Finals, retires.
1998-99 | Lockout shortens season to 50 games. Spurs win first title.
1999-00 | Zen Master, Shaq (MVP) and Kobe lead Lakers to championship.
2000-01 | Iverson wins MVP. Lakers repeat, with 15-1 playoff record.
2001-02 | Refs blow Lakers-Kings series. Iverson talks about practice.
2002-03 | Hornets move to New Orleans. Yao debuts. Spurs win title.
2003-04 | LeBron makes debut. Pistons win title. Shaq, Kobe break up.
2004-05 | Malice at Palace. Suns score in seven seconds or less.
2005-06 | Kobe scores 81! Wade leads Heat to first championship.
2006-07 | Nowitzki wins MVP, but Warriors upset Mavericks in first round.
2007-08 | Garnett, Allen join Celtics, then beat Lakers in Finals.
2008-09 | Sonics become Thunder. Lakers win title: Zen Master’s 10th.
2009-10 | Nets lose first 18 games. Kobe, Lakers repeat as champs.
2010-11 | LeBron takes talents to South Beach, but Heat lose Finals.
2014-15 | LeBron: I’m coming home. Warriors shoot 3s, win championship.
2015-16 | Warriors win record 73 games. LeBron delivers on title promise.