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NBA Playoff Unsung Heroes

NBA Playoffs Erik Drost/ Via Flickr

Unsung heroes of the NBA Playoffs

The NBA Playoffs are full of stars putting on exemplary performances under the bright lights, but there are also players whose impact is essential that need some recognition.


Unsung Heroes Still in it

These players aren’t the faces of their franchises, but they’re key performers that have helped drive success for their teams.

Al Horford – Much attention has been rightfully given to Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas, but Al Horford has also been solid throughout the first two rounds of the NBA Playoffs. He’s scored an amazing 1.263 points per possession on offense, good for 2nd in the playoffs only to Kawhi Leonard. His effective field goal percentage is an extraordinary 70.1%, and he also has eased Thomas’ creating burden by leading the Celtics in assists with 6.1 per game. Thomas is the big name for Boston, but they wouldn’t be where they are if it were not for Al Horford.

Tristan Thompson – Another year, another great playoffs for Tristan Thompson. This Cleveland center has conceded only 0.631 points per possession defensively, best of all playoff players. Opponents are making a measly 2.8 out of 9 shots per game against Thompson. On the offensive end TT is also flexing his rebounding prowess. He has collected 5.3 offensive rebounds per game and leading all players in offensive rebounding percentage with 19.3%. This is a big jump from his 23rd best in the league 13.5% during the regular season. Thompson isn’t the 2nd or even 3rd biggest name on Cleveland, but his performance has been instrumental for their success.

Marcin Gortat -The Polish Hammer has had his struggles so far these playoffs. He finished the Atlanta series 4/18 over the final four games and couldn’t hit anything. But he’s also played a big role in Washington’s success. Gortat is getting D.C. scorers open with his league leading 9.2 screen assists per game. He’s also defending the rim well with 2.0 blocks per game, good for 4th best in the playoffs. And as we’ve come to expect, the 6’11” monster of a rebounder is vacuuming up 11.4 rebounds per game. This is good enough to place Gortat 3rd best in the NBA. Wall, Beal, and Porter will get much of the praise, but Gortat’s positive impact has been felt in every game so far.


Unsung Heroes Knocked out of the NBA Playoffs

These players are no longer still in the hunt for a title, but still deserve some praise for their exemplary performances in the first round.

Thaddeus Young – Young had a great defensive performance in the first round of the playoffs, earning him a spot in this piece. Not only did his 0.787 defensive points per possession rank him 7th best in the playoffs. He also played some significant time against LeBron James and defended him well. When Young was guarding LeBron, James shot 2 for 12 against him. Young shut James down. This is something no other player so far in the playoffs can say.

Robin Lopez – Lopez was a key player in Chicago storming into Boston to start their first round series and winning both games. He grabbed 4.7 offensive rebounds per game, which was good for 3rd best of all playoff players. He was also very efficient offensively, offensive 1.188 points per possession good for third best of all players. Particularly impressive was his 62.5% shooting from mid range, best of all qualifying players in the playoffs.


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