With no LeBron in the Playoffs, Who are this Postseason’s Best Player?
For the first time in what seems like forever, LeBron James is missing in action as the postseason rolls around.
James wasn’t on television yesterday and he will not be active in any of the other four playoff games taking place today. It’s weird to think about it, but James has really held this league hostage for over a decade. So until the Los Angeles Lakers figure out the solutions for their mess, the rest of the NBA will continue to go on and sulk in the first LeBron-less playoffs of the decade.
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With that being said, the best player in these playoffs is not LeBron as the case has been the past number of years.
So who is?
There are sixteen non-LeBron led teams in the playoffs so in honour of that fact, we have decided to put together a list of the 16 best players in this postseason!
Honourable Mentions: Rudy Gobert (UTA), LaMarcus Aldridge (SAS), Pascal Siakam (TOR), Kyle Lowry (TOR), Ben Simmons (PHI)
16. DeMar DeRozan, SAS
A familiar name to start off the list, DeMar DeRozan will embark on his first playoff run as a member of a team not named the Raptors. While inefficient on Saturday night, DeRozan led his new team with 18 points as the Spurs stifled the Nuggets with suffocating defense to take a Game 1 win on the road. He had an abysmal year from beyond the arc, DeRozan remains a mid-range specialist and a scorer who does a ton of his damage at the rim as well as the free throw line.
- 2018-19 Stats: 77 GP, 21.2 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 6.2 APG, 48.1-FG%
15. Blake Griffin, DET
The back-half of the Eastern Conference playoff picture may not be pretty, but that should not overshadow the type of season that Blake Griffin has had. When push came to shove, the Pistons, although relatively pedestrian, had just a bit more talent than the Charlotte Hornets and the Miami Heat of the world. Griffin specifically, has turned into one of the best players in the entire Eastern Conference. His constantly-evolving game has allowed him to remain one of the game’s best despite his diminishing athleticism.
- 2018-19 Stats: 75 GP, 24.5 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 5.4 APG, 36.2- 3PT FG%
14. Chris Paul, HOU
Chris Paul may have suited up in only 58 games, but when healthy, he is still one of the best players in the NBA and quite possibly the top floor general in the league. After suffering a hamstring injury in Game 6 of last year’s Western Conference Finals, the Rockets were unable to recover, fumbling a 3-2 series lead and losing Game 7 on their home court. Nevertheless, when James Harden, Chris Paul and Clint Capela are all active in the same game, the Rockets have proven to be nearly unbeatable.
- 2018-19 Stats: 58 GP, 15.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 8.2 APG
13. Damian Lillard, POR
It’s Lillard time!
The Blazers superstar point guard looks poised to sign on for the supermax this offseason, but until then, he’s got some business to take care of. One of the more explosive and underrated scorers in the game, Lillard will be tasked with carrying a Blazers club that ultimately lacks any sort of depth that can sustain a deep playoff push. That being said, Lillard has averaged at least 25 points per game in his last four seasons and will be one of the toughest players to slow down this postseason.
- 2018-19 Stats: 80 GP, 25.8 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 6.9 APG, 36.9-3PT FG%
12. Nikola Jokic, DEN
Along with Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic has established himself as one of the game’s top-two premier big man. Quite possibly the best passing big the game has ever seen, Jokic is a triple-double machine who can not only score under the basket, but shoot from long range as well. He has been Denver’s best player and their driving force this entire season. Ironically enough, the seven foot Jokic has more triple-double than dunks this season.
- 2018-19 Stats: 80 GP, 20.1 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 7.3 APG, 51.1-FG%
11. Jimmy Butler, PHI
Despite a Game 1 loss to the Brooklyn Nets, Butler still poured in 36 points and 9 rebounds. Although often viewed as uncoachable, Butler is still one of the best two-way players in this league. With the way the NBA game is going, he very much is part of a dying yet valuable breed of players. It will be interesting to watch how he meshes with Ben Simmons in the postseason, but after Game 1, things seem rather shaky.
- 2018-19 Stats: 65 GP, 18.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.0 APG, 46.2-FG%
10. Russell Westbrook, OKC
The game’s most explosive player is set to lead an athletic Thunder team into battle alongside his co-superstar, Paul George. The Thunder are one of the league’s best teams in terms of pace as well as defense, and a lot of that has to do with Brodie’s style of play. Averaging a triple-double for the third straight year, Westbrook and hurt an opposing team in a multitude of ways and as long as he does not get to trigger happy, he will have a large impact on this postseason.
- 2018-19 Stats: 73 GP, 22.9 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 10.7 APG
9. Klay Thompson, GSW
The second Splash Brother is often forgotten. He’s not as flashy as the first nor does he carry the same personality as the Golden State Warriors other superstars in Kevin Durant, DeMarcus Cousins, and Draymond Green. Nevertheless, Thompson is in an elite group of some of the game’s best two-way players. Additionally, he is also one of the greatest long range snipers the game has ever seen and is a perfect is a star-studded Warriors line up.
- 2018-19 Stats: 78 GP, 21.5 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 2.4 APG, 46.7-FG%, 40.2-3PT FG%
8. Kyrie Irving, BOS
Ironically, the Boston Celtics seem to player better whenever Kyrie Irving is out of the lineup. This postseason can very much be Irving’s moment to change that narrative. In a vacuum, Irving is one of the game’s most dynamic and unstoppable scorers. He can shoot from just about anywhere on the court and has the ball handling abilities that rival’s some of the game’s greatest. Uncle Drew seems poised to carry the Celtics after as they kick off their postseason run against the Indiana Pacers.
- 2018-19 Stats: 67 GP, 23.8 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 6.9 APG, 48.7 FG%, 40.1-3PT FG%
7. Kawhi Leonard, TOR
A silent assassin, the Raptors did a great job at keeping Kawhi Leonard healthy for this very moment. Despite a Game 1 loss, Leonard put up 25 points while playing his typical outstanding defense. He is still widely recognized as the game’s best defender and his perimeter defense in particular may very well be Scottie Pippen-esque. He is strong, can score in a multitude of ways and after an injury-riddled 2017-18 campaign, has come out this year and shown that he is still one of the best players in the world.
- 2018-19 Stats: 60 GP, 26.6 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 3.3 APG, 49.6-FG%, 37.1-3PT FG%
6. Joel Embiid, PHI
At the centre spot, there’s no one better in the NBA.
Joel Embiid is an absolute force on both ends of the floor. He is big, he is strong, he’s a defensive anchor, and he is simply unstoppable on offense. While his health is often a question mark as it is entering this postseason, the Sixers will rely heavily on their big man to carry them through these playoffs. While Butler himself is an incredible scorer and two-way player, the motor that will continue to push the Sixers is Embiid – simply look at this team’s record with and without Embiid in the lineup.
- 2018-19 Stats: 64 GP, 27.5 PPG, 13.6 RPG, 3.7 APG, 48.4-FG%
5. Paul George, OKC
Paul George has established himself as an MVP and Defensive Player of the Year candidate this season. As good as Westbrook has been, especially after the All-Star break, George has simply put been incredible start to finish. George very quickly re-signed with the Thunder amid Laker rumours this past offseason and it has paid great dividends. We have never seen George play at this level and the Thunder will need every bit of it as they begin their Playoff push today.
- 2018-19 Stats: 77 GP, 28.0 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 4.1 APG, 38.6-3PT FG%
4. James Harden, HOU
He may be a two-time MVP when all is said and then, but there may not be a more lethal scorer in the NBA today. In fact, at this point, Harden could be the best scoring two-guard in NBA history and trust me, I know what position both Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant have played. Harden can score from places Jordan and Bryant could only dream of being comfortable from. Harden has five career 50-point triple doubles, the most in NBA history. The dude is just so, so good at basketball.
- 2018-19 Stats: 78 GP, 36.1 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 7.5 APG, 36.8-3PT FG%
3. Stephen Curry, GSW
To be the man, you got to beat the man, and no one has been able to take Steph Curry down – the face of the new age NBA dynasty in the Warriors.
The centrepiece of the two-time defending NBA champions, Curry may not be the best player on his Warriors team, but he’s the most important one. He is the best shooter to ever step foot on a basketball court and proved that in a Game 1 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers. The Warriors are looking to three-peat as champions and Curry’s play will be integral in the Warriors realizing their championship dreams.
- 2018-19 Stats: 69 GP, 27.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 5.2 APG, 47.2-FG%, 43.7-3PT FG%
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL
The MVP race is down to The Greek Freak and The Beard.
No matter who wins the prized award, Giannis Antetokounmpo has proven himself to being the next face of the NBA when the current generation of NBA superstars moves out of their prime years. Simply unguardable, Giannis can defend all five positions and is just a consistent three-point shot away from maybe even becoming the most unstoppable force in NBA history. There is no question as to who the best player in the Eastern Conference playoff picture is.
- 2018-19 Stats: 72 GP, 27.7 PPG, 12.5 RPG, 5.9 APG, 57.8-FG%
1. Kevin Durant, GSW
While Antetokounmpo could be on his way to becoming the next face of the NBA, Durant is still here and with LeBron James hanging out on the couch, there is no debate as to who the best player in this year’s playoffs is. With his combination of size and shooting ability, there is not a single spot on the court that is off limits for Durant’s range. Additionally, over the past couple of years he has transformed into one of the game’s better defenders.
This is a future hall of famer who is impossible to slow down.
- 2018-19 Stats: 78 GP, 26.0 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 5.9 APG, 52.1-FG%, 35.3-3PT FG%