The playoffs are where some players may crumble, and some may wither, but the chosen ones will also shine and stand out. It has been a very wild postseason so far and we are witnessing some of the best athletes push their respective teams to capture the elusive NBA championship. In the 2023 playoffs, let’s take a look at who are the 10 best performers so far and how great they’re doing against the biggest stars on the biggest stage in NBA.
10. Jalen Brunson
Prior to the 2022-2023 season, former Dallas Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson signed a 4-year/$104 Million deal with the New York Knicks. With such a huge contract, NBA and Knicks fans think that the rising star is highly overpaid. Some even think that he did not deserve that kind of offer.
It turns out, Jalen Brunson is someone New York has been looking for for a long time. The Knicks have been the laughingstock of the NBA for many years, and the last time they were relevant was back when Carmelo Anthony played in the 2010s. But, with Brunson’s heroics, he is pushing the New York Knicks to a successful championship run. Jalen Brunson is currently averaging 26.5 points, 5.9 assists, and 5.0 rebounds in the 2023 playoffs. With him on the floor, the Knicks are still surviving against the Miami Heat in the 2nd round.
9. James Harden
Five years ago, James Harden was named the Kia NBA Most Valuable Player. Back then, Harden was known for being a deadly scorer who loves isolation. Now, he definitely has changed his playstyle and become one of the best playmakers in the league.
The Beard has been excellent in the postseason. James Harden and Joel Embiid create the most fantastic duo in the league today. In the playoffs, the ten-time all-star can still score more than 20 points while also dishing almost 9 assists a night. It’s truly magnificent how Harden evolved his game. Not only does it look good, but it also translates to wins. The Philadelphia 76ers are currently en route to advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals if they beat Boston Celtics.
8. Kevin Durant
It’s really hard to argue, but it’s Kevin Durant!
Probably the most lethal scorer in history, Kevin Durant was an offensive behemoth for the Phoenix Suns. It does not surprise us that the future Hall-of-Famer can still score 30 points even at the age of 34. Despite losing in the 2nd round against the Denver Nuggets, you can’t deny how impressive KD was during this year’s playoffs.
7. LeBron James
It’s already year 20 and LeBron James continues to dominate. The 38-year-old superstar is making a statement in the postseason for everyone to see.
Arguably the greatest player of all time, LeBron doesn’t seem to be washed. He has been in the league for a while, but he isn’t slowing down a bit. Currently, LBJ averages an impressive double-double average of 22.8 points and 10.1 rebounds. Not only that, but he was able to take the lead in the semifinals, as they went 3-1 against the reigning champs, the Golden State Warriors. If he wins the championship this year, will LeBron finally be the undisputed GOAT?
6. Joel Embiid
There’s only one word to describe Joel Embiid‘s performance thus far – DOMINANT. Philadelphia 76ers superstar center Joel Embiid has been proving to his fans (and haters) why he is the 2023 MVP.
This may seem like a stretch, but nobody can guard Embiid in the playoffs. The Celtics are finding it hard to stop him even though they’re one of the best defensive teams in the league. There seems to be no answer to the greatness of the MVP.
5. Devin Booker
Devin Booker may not be “Kobe”, but he is “HIM”.
The highest-scoring duo in the playoffs is no other than Phoenix Suns’ Kevin Durant and Devin Booker. DBook has solidified his career as one of the best shooting guards in the game. His scoring output in the playoffs was on the next level, however, it was not meant to be. They were just eliminated by Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets and ended their playoff run. From averaging 27.8 PPG in the regular season to boosting his numbers to 33.7 PPG in the playoffs, Booker made use of his abilities on the biggest stage. Unfortunately, even that wasn’t enough against the two-time MVP, Nikola Jokic.
4. Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis‘ career has been ridden with injuries, but he has been very reliable in the postseason so far.
He was dominating the boards and was an offensive nightmare against his matchup. Not only that, AD is a great defender even on the perimeter. He is having his usual numbers, but his impact on the Lakers is undeniably great. He and LeBron are leading the Lakers to win it all this year.
3. Steph Curry
The Golden State Warriors have been pretty inconsistent, aside from the greatest shooter of all time, Steph Curry.
Jordan Poole and Klay Thompson have both been underwhelming in the playoffs, but Curry has been doing the dirty work since the first round. Not only is he the best shooter in history, but also the best shooter everywhere. His output has been ridiculous and without him, the Warriors could have easily been eliminated. The only problem is, Curry hasn’t made any clutch shots in his career. But, each game, when it’s time for someone to step up, Steph Curry also does. In the playoffs, he’s averaging 30.3 points with a 37.1% three-point field goal percentage. Not his best numbers, by one of the best this year.
2. Nikola Jokic
Once more, Nikola Jokic reaches the Western Conference Finals. The Serbian superstar is getting closer and closer to his first championship. If that happens, Denver will also get their first.
As one of the smartest and most skilled basketball players today, Nikola Jokic just proved how amazing of a baller he is. Unsurprisingly, the Joker averaged more points and rebounds in the playoffs than in the regular season. He also leads the Nuggets in eliminating the superteam of Phoenix Suns in the semifinal round. The two-time MVP is averaging an almost triple-double with 30.7 points, 9.7 assists, and 12.8 rebounds. Basically, he does everything for the whole team.
1. Jimmy Butler
The ranking from 10th to 2nd place is up for debate, but the first place rightfully belongs to Michael Jordan’s son, err, I mean Jimmy Butler.
Jimmy Butler activated his Playoff Jimmy persona and is just one game away from reaching the Eastern Conference Finals again. And, if everything goes according to plan, he could face off against LeBron James and the Lakers in an NBA Finals rematch.
It has been an unpredictable season for Miami so far. They were barely a play-in team who lost against the Atlanta Hawks in the first play-in tournament game. But, Butler summoned his inner beast. The Heat was able to secure the 8th seed but went up against the 1st seed Milwaukee Bucks. In the biggest upsets in recent memory, the Miami Heat destroy the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round, 4-1. Butler is a man on a mission as he carries the whole Heat squad on his back.
Do you agree with our take? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. For more content, stay with us, here at Spiel Times.
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