We may never know how the NBA 2020 season will have ended. Though the season may ultimately resume, everything will advance differently, you'd think.
Who knows whether or not the teams currently on the playoff bubble, like the Blazers and the Pelicans, will have made a late-season push and surpassed the Grizzlies? Who knows if LeBron could have evened up the MVP race with Giannis Antetokounmpo? Who knows if Zion Williamson could have taken away the Rookie of the Year award from Ja Morant?
It's extremely frustrating to consider all of these highly fascinating story lines and not know how they ever may have come down. But right now, health and safety is the ultimate goal, meaning that the suspension is an important step in the right direction toward resuming play.
In the meantime, the NBA has been nice enough to allow fans free access to thousands of games through NBA League Pass, following in the path of the NFL in an emerging trend that will keep people entertained while they stay safe from the outside world.
Here's a guide on the top games to watch for some of the league's biggest stars so that you can get your proper fill of phenomenal NBA action.
These are listed in chronological order.
April 8, 2012
43 points, 7 rebounds, 4-5 3Pt.
Melo’s scoring was spread evenly throughout the game, but two of his shots were clearly the most important.
At this point in the season, the Knicks were desperately trying to assert themselves as a surefire playoff team, boasting a 28-27 record, while the Bulls were established as a force in the East with a 43-14 record.
A game-tying three pointer forced OT against the Bulls after the Knicks battled back, surrendering a big third quarter to Chicago. It was a deep three, a confident stroke and a massively clutch play.
In OT, Melo put up a shot from nearly the same exact location, with the same swagger and an absolute explosion from the crowd inside Madison Square Garden to secure the win.
January 17, 2014
54 points, 6 assists, 19-28 FG
Though Durant recorded several impact games for the Warriors, perhaps his biggest game came against the Warriors in his age-25 season, one for which he ultimately brought home an MVP award and a scoring title.
Steph Curry went off for 37 and Klay Thompson added six more threes, but Durant's offense was too much to handle. He put the game away with an outstanding 15-point final quarter, including 13 straight in the beginning of the period as the Thunder began to pull away.
February 6, 2015
41 points, 10 rebounds, 15-23 FG
The Brow was on full display in this one, but especially turned it on late in the game. 16 of his 41 points came in the fourth quarter on 5-6 shooting including 1-1 from deep and 5-5 from the charity stripe.
He was also huge on the defensive side, helping to limit Thunder superstar Kevin Durant to a 2-11 shooting performance in the final quarter of play. This defensive ability helped Davis and the Pels to ice the game.
Oh yeah, and that 1-1 from deep in the final quarter that we mentioned? It looked like this and won the game for the Pelicans.
February 27, 2016
46 points, 6 assists, 12-16 3Pt.
You’d think that there would be a lot of choices to choose from here, but to me, this one was immediately obvious.
When teams like the 2016 Warriors and Thunder matchup, you can always expect sparks to fly. This game was the pinnacle of that rule, as each team’s “Big Three” put up incredible numbers. Take a look at these stats outside of Steph’s that are posted above:
Klay Thompson: 32 points, 12-23 FG
Draymond Green: 2 points, 14 rebounds, 14 assists, 6 steals, 4 blocks
Russell Westbrook: 26 points, 7 rebounds, 13 assists
Kevin Durant: 37 points, 12 rebounds, 7-11 3Pt.
Serge Ibaka: 15 points, 20 rebounds
The scoring was fast and furious, and the way the game ended was one of the craziest finishes of the decade.
April 13, 2016
60 points, 22-50 FG
There’s no other way to describe the emotional reaction to countless basketball fans across the country as they watched a legendary icon play his final game in the most Kobe way possible. From the moment the game started, everyone in the arena knew what was going to happen.
Kobe was going to shoot. Kobe was going to score. And Kobe was going to win.
The game switched hands multiple times and came down to the wire toward the end, creating the perfect environment for the Mamba to put on a show one more time. Never mind this being Kobe’s most exciting game that’s available on League Pass; this might be Kobe’s most exciting game in his entire career, even over his historic 81-point explosion.
Though you’ve probably watched the highlights considering the recent tragedy involving Kobe and his daughter, GiGi, it’s worth paying another tribute to one of the NBA’s all-time greats in his last game.
June 19, 2016
27 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists, 3 blocks, 2 steals
The King has had better statistical games. He’s had numerous 40-point showings, even in playoff games. In fact, he put up two consecutive games of 41 points before Game 7, both of which could easily be considered the defining game of his career and of the series. But this one came on the biggest stage of the three games, featured LeBron’s classic all-around performance in the form of a triple-double and featured a particularly famous play that differs from usual.
While most of the NBA’s most famous plays are ridiculous dunks, or half-court buzzer beaters or any variety of clutch scores, LeBron relied on defense. In fact, the play is celebrated to the point where it’s anniversary was celebrated on social media.
Jan. 30, 2018
60 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds, 4 steals
Chris Paul was out, Eric Gordon was out and Trevor Ariza was out. But James Harden didn’t care, and perhaps even thrived given the lack of proven support around him.
Instead, Harden put the team on his back -- as he’s done many times before -- and recorded his first 60-point game. Additionally, the game was the first triple-double in history with a 60-point scoring total, establishing himself as one of the most unique players in NBA history. His ability to score so many points while additionally drawing enough attention to free up his teammates makes him the elite talent that he is, and this game is proof of that.
October 29, 2018
52 points, 14-24 3Pt.
This one was such a difficult choice. I could have gone with his incredible 37-point explosion -- in one quarter - against the Sacramento Kings, which set an NBA record. I could have easily selected his 60-point game, which he accomplished in under 30 minutes, against the Pacers.
But instead, we went with probably his most impressive NBA record, where the man just could not stop pouring in threes from beyond the arc. To be able to do this while playing on the same team as legendary scorers Kevin Durant and Steph Curry is utterly insane, and it’s immensely entertaining to watch him have as much fun and success as he had that night.
December 8, 2018
21 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals, 11 4Q points
I feel obliged to put Luka’s December 23, 2018 game against the Blazers in this slot, but that one was really due to an out-of-this-world game-tying shot.
But he’s had much better games, and besides, the Mavericks ended up losing the game.
Instead, we’ll go with another game from his rookie season, in which he started off freezing cold and enabled the Rockets to get a big lead on him. But be patient with this one. At the end, he turned on another gear, scoring 11 straight points for the Mavericks and turning over the lead into Dallas’s favor.
This was one of the many instances that we’ve seen Doncic display utter dominance at such a young age, hinting at record-breaking things to come for the Slovenian superstar.
April 20, 2019
31 points, 16 rebounds, 7 assists, 6 blocks, 2 steals
The day before Game 4 of the opening round in the 2019 playoffs, with the Sixers ahead in the series against the Nets two games to one, Joel Embiid was listed as questionable. That listing was then downgraded to doubtful after his knee soreness progressed to the point where the pain may have been too much to manage.
But, as Noah Levick of NBC Sports reported, Embiid was determined to play saying that “it’s hard to manage, but…. gotta push through the pain and see where it goes.”
If he was in pain during Game 4, he certainly didn’t show it. Instead, he inflicted pain on the Nets, stuffing the stat sheet and contributing all over the floor in a close game. There was an added element of controversy after his second flagrant foul of the series and a scuffle with Jared Dudley, leading to a highly entertaining rivalry.
April 23, 2019
50 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 10-18 3Pt.
Lillard was no stranger to dramatic game-winners coming into this game. After all, his three-pointer against the Blazers in the 2014 playoffs is considered one of the greatest shots in NBA playoff history.
But his cumulative performance wasn’t as impressive in that game as it was in this one, as he turned in 50 to down the power duo of Russell Westbrook and Paul George. George, specifically, was reasonably unhappy with the result of the game and the series.
Note: Lillard also pulled off an insanely hot stretch this season, averaging 45.1 ppg over an eight-game stretch. Anyone of those games, including his 61-point outburst, are well-worth watching.
May 12, 2019
41 points, 8 rebounds, 16-39 FG
Avert your eyes, Sixers fans. Because this moment will go down as undoubtedly the most heart wrenching moment in Philly franchise history, while conversely going down as the peak moment that Toronto Raptors basketball has ever experienced.
Though the moment that stands out is obvious, Leonard refused to slow down all game long, playing terrific defense when it counted most.
But come on. The reason you watch this game is for the ending that still just doesn’t seem possible. Kawhi Leonard defied physics with his corner three, leaving Joel Embiid and millions of Philly fans in tears.
November 25, 2019
50 points, 14 rebounds, 6 assists
This one was another tough pick, because he’s been so unstoppable in so many games throughout his career, especially in the 2019-20 season. After all, how do you top a 37-point double-double against the Knicks that took just 21 minutes -- yes, 21 minutes -- of playing time to complete?
Well, one way is to drop a 50-bomb on a much better opponent in the Utah Jazz. With 32 of those points coming in the second half, the Greek Freak and the Bucks overcame a halftime deficit to pull off a close victory in front of their home crowd, winning the eight-straight game of what would become an 18-game streak.
January 22, 2020
22 points, 7 rebounds, 4-4 3Pt., 18:18 MP
Is it too early to consider Zion Williamson an NBA superstar? I think not.
His long-awaited debut certainly did not disappoint, and even though the Pelicans lost to the Spurs, it’s impossible not to include this game. Five years from now, when Zion has paved his path on the way to a Hall of Fame career, people will remember how he broke onto the scene after missing a huge portion of the season recovering from injury.
He’s had better games, and he will continue to have better games. But his dominance inside the paint and from beyond the arc in this one, in such a short time on the court, is a reminder of the never-before-seen type of player that he is.
February 20, 2020
50 points, 8 assists, 8-15 3Pt.
The All-Star break didn’t do much to slow Young down. Though he was included on that roster, he was a notable snub elsewhere, as he failed to make the list of Team USA finalists.
There were 44 finalists, including names of a much lesser caliber (see the full list here), and, via Sarah Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Young said “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hurt.”
Maybe he released some of his frustration in his first NBA action after the All-Star break, when he recorded his first 50-point game, becoming the fourth-youngest ever to do so and the player with the most 40-point games in his first two seasons.
February 23, 2020
41 points, 12-20 FG, 147 ORtg
I always love watching games that showcase the evolution of the NBA and the transfer of power from the stars of the past decade to the young, blossoming talent of the future.
This game did exactly that, as Tatum and the Celtics took on LeBron and the Lakers in a standoff between two top teams in their respective conferences. LeBron played well, scoring 29 points in a near triple-double (9 assists, 8 rebounds), but was actually outplayed by the man who may become the “next LeBron” of this league.
Tatum went off for 41 while several of his teammates struggled, nearly leading his team to a victory despite the lack of support. Though the Lakers ultimately were too much to overcome, downing the Celtics 114-112, Tatum’s performance was highly entertaining and promised that he’s ushering in the next generation of all-time greats.