by Peter Walsh and Leo Sepkowitz (guest appearance by Abe Schwadron)

And just like that, the 2012-2013 season is in the books. And what a season it was. Between Steph Curry’s season-long shooting display, Miami’s unreal run, the never-ending Lakers soap opera, and countless huge dunks and overtime thrillers in between, there was nary a dull moment. The best part: things are only going to get better with the playoffs tipping off tomorrow afternoon.

With all that in mind, Leo and I took some time to breakdown our favorite moments from the regular season, including our All-NBA (cumulative, not broken down by conference), All-Rookie and All-Defense selections. Obviously, this is meant to cause some debate, so let us know what you think of our picks below. Thanks again for taking out the time to follow along with us this season and enjoy the playoffs!

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Best Performance (Individual):

PeteSteph Curry 54 points @ MSG

A 6-3, 185 guard with ankle problems who relies on the 3 shouldn’t score 54 points, right? Wrong. Steph Curry put on one of the all-time great shooting performances in NBA history at the World’s Most Famous Arena no less. The best part–besides Curry blowing off teammate Draymond Green’s high five for an awkward shimmy–had to be the fact that the Knicks faithful totally got behind Curry. As the evening went on, and the buzz around the stadium grew, Knicks fans began cheering louder and louder every time Curry touched the ball and especially when he hit one of his 11 ridiculous 3-pointers. The Knicks may have walked off the court victorious and spoiled Mark Jackson’s return to Manhattan, but the night will forever belong to Steph Curry. Peep the highlights below to relive the magic.

LeoLeBron 60+ FG%, 30+ points streak

From February 3rd through the 12th, LeBron played six games and hit 66 of 92 shots—good for 72 percent. He dropped at least 30 in each of those games, and, most importantly, the team won each game. Those six games were the first six of the Heat’s 27-game win streak. Speaking of…

Best Performance (Team):

LeoHeat Win Streak

As far as regular-season triumphs go, this is about as good as it gets. Miami looked like the perfect team for nearly two months, and their record showed it.

Storyline of the Year:

PeteHeat Win Streak

The most incredible stretch of basketball that I have seen in my 25 years (yes, I was alive during Jordan’s run, but as a young’n, I couldn’t appreciate or break that stretch down cognitively like I could the Heat this season). Not only was it amazing to see Miami chase history, it made the dog days of the NBA regular season enthralling. Outside of die-hard fans, the casual fan isn’t paying attention to games played in February and into the first half of March. The Heat made every game must-see TV, which is just awesome for the league as a whole. I found myself rooting for the Heat to break the record and was legitimately disappointed when they lost to the Bulls.

LeoKobe Injury

Nothing that happened during the regular season will have long-term ripple effects like Kobe’s Achilles injury. It’s not clear when he’ll play again. Lots of people are assuming he’ll one day return to the level he was playing at when he went down. I don’t see how that’s possible. A 34-year old suffering a torn Achilles sounds very bad to me. Are we sure he’ll even be a Laker next season? His luxury tax bill will be off the charts for a guy who’s very unlikely to play a full season.

Two weeks ago, it made some sense for LA to cut costs with an offseason Pau Gasol trade, but that would leave them with Nash, Howard, mediocre return for Gasol (tough to move $20 M) and a bad bench until Kobe returns. Will Howard even stay now? What’s he returning to? The Lakers are a cap-strapped team with zero players improving and no picks in the near future. He should take a long look at Houston this summer.

Short-term, we’re not going to see Kobe in the Playoffs, and, no matter what you think of him, you have to hate that if you love the NBA. Long-term, the Lakers have a lot of franchise-altering questions and, as of now, no answers.

Best Kick Game:

Abe: Derrick Williams, Timberwolves

DWill doesn’t take down this title without some serious comp—if there was an All-NBA Sneaker Team, the following names would have to be considered: DeMar Derozan, Rudy Gay, PJ Tucker, Nick Young, Ray Allen, Nate Robinson, Monta Ellis. But Williams went above and beyond in 2012-13, busting out shoes that had rarely seen the light of day, and rocking them on the court. From Foamposites to rare Jordans, dude went deep into his closet (and probably others’) to push the limits of sneak game this season. He even took to Instagram to have fans help decide which kicks he should wear on some nights. Awesome.

Abe: Nike Zoom Kobe 8 System

Again, the list of worthy candidates was a long one, with stiff competition for Kobe’s latest signature sneaker coming in the form of the Jordan XX8, KD V, LeBron X, Way of Wades, Air Max Hyperposite, UA Spine, D. Rose 3 and 3.5 among others. But even with the Black Mamba unable to showcase his kicks in the Playoffs, they are far and away the best shoes of the 2012-13 NBA season. Not only is the Kobe 8 insanely popular around the League, unlike some of its competitors, but with colorways that range from classic to crazy and a fit that prioritizes comfort and feel over technological advances, the Kobe 8 System is the most luxurious, most ball-ready basketball shoe on the market.

Lottery Team with Most to Look Forward To:

Pete: Raptors

Toronto ended the season by beating five playoff-bound teams in a row–granted, most of their opponents were either resting starters or in cruise control–and showed a lot of promise heading into the offseason and beyond. With a team as young as the Raptors, sometimes all they need is time, especially when the talent is there. DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay provide an explosive 1-2 scoring punch, Amir Johnson improved by leaps and bounds this season and is a legit threat in the paint, Kyle Lowry stuffs the stat sheet when healthy, Jonas Valanciunas looked great over the final stretch of the season, Alan Anderson was a pleasant surprise and gives them scoring off the bench (if resigned), Terence Ross will only get better, and they should finally be free of Andrea Bargnani. The Raptors have put together a nice core group of athletic, high-scoring players but will have to tighten up defensively if they are to make any noise going forward. Regardless, this will be one of the more fun teams to watch next season.

Honorable Mention: Hornets

LeoBlazers

On March 23rd, the Blazers were 33-36. They finished 33-49. That’s an abysmal end to the season, but for 69 games they were right in the thick of the Playoff race. That’s pretty impressive for a team that had a rookie as their second-leading scorer and next to no bench production. If they can add some punch off the bench, I think we’ll see them in the postseason a year from now.

Comeback Player:

Pete: Jeff Green, F, Celtics

When the Celtics traded Kendrick Perkins to the Thunder for Jeff Green, Boston fans were up in arms. Perk, beloved by the city and his teammates, was a key part of the Celtics team that had won the 2008 NBA Championship. Right off the bat, Green found himself in a difficult position and was unfairly forced to win over a rabid fanbase. To make matters worse, one week prior to the 2011-’12 season, the news broke that Green would miss the entire season due to open heart surgery when it was discovered during a routine physical that Green had an aortic aneurysm–scary stuff.

Though Green was surely terrified, doctors deemed that he would be able to play again and the former Georgetown Hoya’s long road to recovery concluded when he took the court in October for the his first NBA game in ten months. Green got off to a slow start but as the injuries began to pile up for the Celtics, he worked his way into the rotation and became a key player on this year’s team. At 6-9, 235 pounds, he has finally earned the respect of Celtics’ fans with huge games, explosive dunks and heart warming moments while Perkins has been mediocre at best for the Thunder. Green turns 27 in August and with the future of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo all up in the air, he could become the centerpiece of the franchise going forward–something no one could have imagined when he lay on the surgeon’s table in 2011.

LeoRicky Rubio, G, Timberwolves

Rubio missed a little over a month at the start of the season while rehabbing his torn ACL. Once he came back, though, he was pretty good, pretty fast. He tallied 9 assists in 18 minutes in his return, and only got better as the season went on. He averaged 13 points, 9.5 assists, 4.5 boards and 3 steals in February—the first full month where he could play regular heavy minutes. It wasn’t the spectacular sophomore season we were hoping for after seeing Rubio fly out of the gate as a rookie, but he’ll erupt soon enough.

Breakout Player:

Pete: Greivis Vasquez, G, Hornets

When Chris Paul left the Bayou for Hollywood, the Hornets were left with a huge void at the point guard spot. This season, Greivis Vasquez filled that void with 13.9 points and 9.0 dimes per game. At 6-6, 211 pounds, he won’t wow you with athleticism–in fact, he is probably the slowest starting point guard in the League–but he is smart and uses his size to see over smaller defenders to make the right play. He should be the leading candidate for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award and paired with Anthony Davis, gives the Hornets a lot to look forward to heading into next season.

LeoLarry Sanders, C, Bucks

Last season, Sanders averaged just over 12 minutes per game. This year, he stuffed more shots than anybody not named Serge Ibaka on a nightly basis. His scoring (10 points, 50%) and rebounding numbers (9.5) were sweet, too.

Best Bargain Considering Salary (Excluding Rookie Contracts): JR Smith, G, Knicks

Leo: A couple of months ago, I would have characterized JR as a volume shooter that can shoot a team in or out of games. He’s elevated his play to an entirely new level since. In March, he averaged 22 points on 44 percent shooting. In April, he averaged 22 (48%). Everybody knew that he could score, but I don’t think anyone thought he could do it efficiently. He’s the clear second option on the second-best team in the East. Not bad for a guy making just $2.8 million this year—less than the likes of Josh McRoberts, Johan Petro and Jan Vesely.

Pete: J.R. Smith is the fuckin’ man.

All-NBA:
Pete :
G: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
G: Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
F: LeBron James, Miami Heat
F: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
C: Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies
Honorable Mention 1: Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks
Honorable Mention 2: Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers

Leo:
G: Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
G: James Harden, Houston Rockets
F: LeBron James, Miami Heat
F: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
C: Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies
Honorable Mention 1: Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks
Honorable Mention 2: Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs

All Rookie:
Pete:
1) Damian Lillard, G, Portland Trailblazers
2) Bradley Beal, G, Washington Wizards
3) Anthony Davis, F/C, New Orleans Hornets
4) Dion Waiters, G, Cleveland Cavaliers
5) Andre Drummond, C, Detroit Pistons

Leo:
1) Damian Lillard, G, Portland Trailblazers
2) Anthony Davis, F/C, New Orleans Hornets
3) Jonas Valanciunas, C, Toronto Raptors
4) Dion Waiters, G, Cleveland Cavaliers
5) Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, F, Charlotte Bobcats

All Defense:
Pete:
1) Tony Allen, G, Memphis Grizzlies
2) Joakim Noah, C, Chicago Bulls
3) Paul George, F, Indiana Pacers
4) Larry Sanders, C, Milwaukee Bucks
5) LeBron James, F, Miami Heat

Leo:
1) Marc Gasol, C, Memphis Grizzlies
2) LeBron James, F, Miami Heat
3) Tim Duncan, F, San Antonio Spurs
4) Paul George, F, Indiana Pacers
5) Luol Deng, F, Chicago Bulls