The "X-Factor" on each NBA playoff team.
Every team has a player whose performance can widely alter a team's chances of winning. Those players become critical in the playoffs.
This year's NBA playoffs is the most competitive playoffs in recent memory. Not only is it undetermined who will win the Eastern Conference, but the Golden State Warriors faces an improved Houston Rockets, Portland Trail Blazers, and OKC Thunder. Additionally, the Spurs are healthy this season. Moreover, the Clippers and Denver are extremely hungry for playoff success.
Listed below are players that could significantly improve their team's chances of success.
Warriors. Draymond Green.
Draymond Green in some games plays like he is a max-contract worthy player. However, he has been struggling this season and it has been problematic for the Warriors. If Draymond Green is playing like an All-Star during the playoffs, the Warriors are unbeatable.
Denver. Paul Millsap.
The Denver Nuggets are having arguably the best season in the history of the franchise primarily due to how Denver has step-up defensively. Key to Denver's success defensively has been Paul Millsap. Not only is he the only player on the Nuggets with significant playoff experience, but he is a leader on the defensive end of the floor.
Trail Blazers. Enes Kanter.
Enes Kanter was the MVP for Portland in their game one win over the OKC Thunder. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum can be counted on to give the Blazers 45-65 points a night. However, the Blazers need their bench to step-up if they are going to win. Also, without Jusuf Nurkic playing in the playoffs, Enes Kanter's performance is going to be critical.
Houston Rockets. Kenneth Faried.
During their regular season matchups, the Warriors had no answer for Kenneth Faried. Against other teams besides the Warriors, his performance has varied dramatically during the regular season. He is capable of giving the Houston Rockets big minutes when called upon to do so.
Jazz. Jae Crowder.
The Utah Jazz are one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. Jae Crowder has been key to their defense this season and he will be needed to stop the offensive train that is the Houston Rockets.
OKC. Dennis Schröder.
It is certain that Steve Adams, Paul George, and Russell Westbrook will step-up during the playoffs. However, it will likely not be enough to even get past the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round of the playoffs. Moreover, OKC's bench has been notoriously bad this season and is one of worst benches in the playoffs. If OKC is going to make it to the conference finals, then Dennis Schröder is going to have to step-up during the playoffs.
Spurs. Demar DeRozan.
The Spurs have the most organized offense in basketball. If Demar DeRozan can play as well in the playoff as he does during the regular season, then the Spurs can potentially make it to the Western Conference finals. However, his performance in the playoffs has always been an issue for him and was the reason he was traded from the Raptors.
The Clippers since the All-Star break has been performing like an elite team. The Clippers have been starting him at the Center Position. The Warriors are without a center since Demarcus Cousins win down, so Zubac's performance will be critical for the Clippers to win in the first round. Moreover, if the Clippers make it to the second round, the Clippers will need a dynamic center to play against Clint Capella.
For the Eastern Conference,
Bucks. Brook Lopez.
The Bucks feature Giannis and one of the best-supporting casts in the NBA. Brook Lopez's performance has been varied this year. If he can hit threes and guard the paint, then the Bucks are a lock to win the Eastern Conference this year.
Raptors. Kyle Lowry.
Kyle Lowry scored zero points in game 1 against the Orlando Magic and he has not performed well in the playoffs the past few years. If Kyle Lowry can average over 14 PPG during the playoffs like he did in the regular season, then the Raptors can beat almost any team in the Eastern Conference.
76ers. Ben Simmons.
If Ben Simmons can play like an All-star and give the 76ers 18 or more points per game, then the 76ers can win the Eastern Conference. The 76ers need him to step-up offensively since Joel Embiid has been on a minutes restriction.
Boston Celtics. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Terry Rozier
The Celtics have multiple wildcards on their roster. Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Terry Rozier are the biggest. Kyrie Irving, Al Hortford, and Gordon Hayward are expected to play well during the playoffs. However, the Celtics will need one of these three players to play well for the Celtics to make it deep in the playoffs. Last year, all three players averaged over 60 PPG together and the Celtics made it to a game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Indiana Pacers. Myles Turner
After Victor Oladipo went down, many analysts thought the Indiana Pacers were finished for the season. However, Bojan Bogdanovic stepped-up towards the end of the season and the Pacers finished the season in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. For the Pacers to win, they will need additional help from another player. The Pacers face a dynamic center in Al Horford in round one and potentially Brook Lopez in round 2. The Pacers will need their center to step-up for them to win.
Nets. Jarrett Allen.
The Nets face the 76ers in the first round of the playoffs and potentially the Raptors in the second round. The Raptors feature Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol. And the 76ers feature Joel Embidd and Boban. In both rounds, great defense is needed from Jarrett Allen for the Nets to compete.
Magics. D. J. Augustin.
If D. J. Augustin can play like a starter on a playoff team, then the Magic can be extremely formidable moving forward.
Pistons. Reggie Jackson.
If Reggie Jackson can play like a starter on a playoff team, then the Pistons can be extremely formidable moving forward.
Who do you think is the biggest X-factor in the playoffs.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Michael Mannen