With the NBA regular season drawing to a close, it is only fitting to give it a proper sendoff.
Every season somehow feels a little bit longer than the last in an endearing way. Each year, I find so many new things within the game and its minutiae that starts to stick with me more sporadically. It's arguably my favorite part of basketball: the sheer volume and variance that comes with it. I love finding the little things in a long and tough regular season.
Learning the game, tracking the tendencies of players and indulging in their progressions over the course of 82 games is why I cover the NBA. It's just awesome. As the MVP debate and other awards discussions have ramped up, it has made me contemplate what has transpired throughout the course of the regular season.
Watching Nuggets/Grizzlies on Thursday night, a game much less close than the final 122-109 score indicates, I was constantly reminded of how fun and joyous basketball is. Sometimes I need to zoom out and stop analyzing so I can just breath it all in. And man, Bones Hyland put on a S H O W during the 3rd quarter.
He finished with 16 points and 7 assists while canning four triples, but it was the sheer energy he played with that made me crack a smile and eventually wake my dog up with a look of bewilderment on his face.
If you somehow missed this game or this moment, please prepare yourself:
This man NARUTO GLIDED after throwing a tight wrist pass!
This is the funniest moment of the NBA season, hands down.
Shoutout to Bones, who has been awesome and a huge part of the Nuggets' stellar play in 2022 (Denver is 31-17 in the calendar year).
Bones Hyland since March (19 games)— Mark Schindler (@MSchindlerNBA) April 9, 2022
13.8 ppg on 66.5% TS
42.7% from deep on 5.8 per game
He's played himself onto the All-Rookie 2nd Team without a doubt.
But again, it's not neccesarily the efficacy of play or how good a guy is. A blowout game shouldn't be that fun to watch, but I was glued to that 3rd quarter as Denver put together a sublime run speerheaded by Hyland. It really made me stop and appreciate just how enjoyable and fruitful this season has been on many fronts. There's joy in the game, and you often don't have to search for it. It's in the little moments.
Another thing that's really stood out as the season has wound down: injuries suck. This seems obvious, but it's felt ever apparent as some teams have struggled down the stretch. Sustainability is so difficult, and the teams that show bright flashes early in the season and struggle to replicate them perhaps put into even better perspective how impressive the great teams are.
Prior to injuries to Draymond Green and Stephen Curry, the Warriors were on a similar pace as the outstanding Phoenix Suns. Had those players been healthy all year, who knows how different things might have been in the Western Conference?
In the East, the Cleveland Cavaliers were a top four seed and looked ripe to lock in a playoff spot, but injuries had other plans. We don't know for sure what the team looks like with Collin Sexton fully healthy. Losing Ricky Rubio (who was playing so well) opened up another crack in guard depth which they eventually made numerous trades to pave over. Jarrett Allen's injury sent them reeling defensively, and they just haven't really been able to recover since.