As the first round is over and the second round of the NBA playoffs is well underway, some unexpected names have been coming up huge for their respective teams. Let’s shed some light on these guys.
Jordan Poole, Warriors
Despite his regular season numbers, Poole has been a constant problem offensively for the Warriors. His Steph Curry-like play has resulted in him going off for 27+ in the first three games of the first round.
This couldn’t have happened at a better time for Golden State as Poole adds another scorer and a threat between Wiggins, Curry, and Thompson.
As the Warriors up 3-1 against the Grizzlies, Poole poured in a near triple triple double in game one with 31 points, 8 rebounds, and 9 assists followed by 20 points, 3 rebounds, and 5 assists in game 2.
Season: 18.5 ppg 3.4 rpg 4 apg
Playoffs: 21.9 ppg 3.7 rpg 5.3 apg
Desmond Bane, Grizzlies
Bane has made a huge jump from year one to year two as he’s become the second-best player on a young and talented Memphis Grizzlies team. His ability to shoot the ball at a high clip and attack the rim with poise is a major reason why they’ve advanced to the second round.
When Ja is off the court, we see Bane really come alive and give the Grizzlies that offensive push. In six games Bane has managed to put up at least 16 points in four straight games with 25+ on 49% shooting in the first round.
Season: 18.2 ppg 4.4 rpg 2.7 apg
Playoffs: 17.3 ppg 3.7 rpg 2.2 apg
Grant Williams, Celtics
From face value this might come as a shock to some of you, but Boston fans will understand and appreciate this.
Williams isn’t by any means isn’t a first, second, or third option offensively. Williams is the definition of playing his role and he does it at such an elite level. In four games he’s managed to be extremely valuable as in certain stretches offensively Williams was in the right places at the right times knocking down big jumpers, playing great defense, and rebounding the basketball.
Williams led the league in corner three point percentage and somehow he got to those spots on the court consistently through four games. He allowed for Tatum, Brown, and Smart to get into a rhythm while he picked up the slack when they needed it. I plan to see Williams being more effective in round two.
On another note Williams notched 21 points in game two against the Bucks as they manhandled them to even the series at one a piece.
Season: 7.8 ppg 3.8 rpg 1 apg
Playoffs: 11.5 ppg 4.4 rpg 1.3 bpg
Max Strus, Heat
In OT, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra made the adjustment to give Strus more of a role in the rotation and beat out Tyler Herro, and Duncan Robinson for a starting spot. Since then he’s made the most out of his opportunity.
Strus, who shoots 35% from three in the playoffs, has given Miami a huge edge as another spot up shooter to go along with Robinson and Herro. Throughout the series except for Game 6, Strus has maintained a healthy shot percentage and is efficient off screens.
Season: 10.6 ppg 3 rpg 1.4 apg
Playoffs: 11 ppg 3 rpg 2 apg 1.1 spg
Tyrese Maxey, 76ers
Arguably the biggest surprise player of the year, Maxey has carried this Philly team when Embiid and Harden were absent. He’s what Ben Simmons was supposed to turn into.
Maxey has picked up a lot of the offensive load as James Harden is going through a slump and Embiid being in an out of lineup. Philly is currently down 2-1 against Miami in the second round as Maxey posted 21 points and 6 assists in 39 minutes last night in a win.
Season: 17.5 ppg 3.2 rpg 4.3 apg
Playoffs: 22 ppg 3.6 rpg 4.2 apg
Jalen Brunson, Mavericks
Brunson’s performance in the playoffs this year is an amazing sight to see. With Hardaway out and Doncic in and out of the lineup, Brunson has stepped up in a major way.
Through the first round he managed to single handedly carry the Mavericks to their first playoff series win in a very long time. His ability to create his own shot and create for others has been on full display this far.
Although the second-round production has been scarce for Brunson, he posted 28 points in a commanding win against Phoenix to make it a 2-2 series. If Dallas expects to compete with Phoenix, Brunson needs to be consistent.
Season: 16.3 ppg 3.9 rpg 4.8 apg
Playoffs: 23.5 ppg 4.6 rpg 3.9 apg
With the second round in full swing anything can happen this year! No guarantees!