The 2013 NBA Playoffs have already reached the second-round. Eight teams are still fighting for the ultimate goal, while eight are already eliminated and will have to wait a year for another shot. These playoffs have so far been highlighted by injuries to star players, but there have been quite a few positive surprises for all teams.
Postseason truly tests your character. Some players shrink in the spotlight, while others use it as a launching pad and take their game to the next level. In almost every playoffs, win or lose, there are players who step up and play at a significantly higher level than they have in the regular season. These players can be superstars who elevate their games, or players who probably didn’t even expect to see postseason minutes but have been granted with a golden opportunity.
So, which player has been surprisingly good for each of the 16 teams that made the playoffs?
Atlanta Hawks – Johan Petro – 4.8 PPG, 3.7 RPG
This one is pretty tough, as most Hawks players were quite disappointing rather than surprising. In the six games that Atlanta ended up playing, Al Horford was probably the team’s best player, but he was pretty much as good as he has always been. So, on a list of few surprises, Petro is probably the most qualified for this. He started four of the games against the Indiana Pacers, and while he didn’t play starter minutes he was still averaging more playing time than in the regular season. He put up his best performance in game 4, in which he had 4 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists.
Boston Celtics – Jeff Green – 20.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 2.3 APG
Green was terrific towards the end of the regular season and carried over the momentum into the playoffs. He led the Celtics in scoring and was relatively consistent. He scored 20 or more points in four games and only had one bad night, which was game 2 against the Knicks. As the Celtics contemplate their future, Jeff’s play was certainly encouraging.
Brooklyn Nets – Brook Lopez – 22.3 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 3 BLK
Brooklyn was another team that had very few surprises, as most players played at the level that was expected of them. However, Lopez was one of the most impressive players in the whole of the first-round playoffs, which was a little surprising. It was a thing of beauty to watch the big man take on a bigger offensive role, and his numbers were up across the board. The most impressive stat is probably his 3 blocks per game, which yet again reflects on his improvement on the defensive end. In a game 3 loss to the Bulls, Lopez was fantastic and recorded 22 points, 9 rebounds and 7 blocks.
Chicago Bulls – Nate Robinson – 17.4 PPG, 4.3 APG, 2.4 RPG
Was there any doubt about this one? Little Nate has been fantastic for the injury-depleted Bulls, despite his terrible shot selection. His performance in game 4 against the Brooklyn Nets was one for the ages, and without his 23-point fourth quarter, the Bulls would probably be enjoying their summer vacation at this point in time. He is Chicago’s leading scorer in the playoffs and has held down the fort with both Derrick Rose and Kirk Hinrich sidelined.
Denver Nuggets – Andre Iguodala – 18 PPG, 8 RPG, 5.3 APG
The Nuggets were favorites heading into their first-round matchup against the Golden State Warriors, but saw their season end early. Ty Lawson and Iguodala were expected to lead this team in the playoffs and they both did. Most of Denver’s other role players were inconsistent and disappointing, but Iggy’s experience showed. He played over 40 minutes per game, carried a bigger scoring load and got his teammates involved. Iguodala’s improved play might have been expected, but considering the fact that he had to chase Klay Thompson and Steph Curry on the defensive end, his play on offense was surprisingly good.
Golden State Warriors – Stephen Curry – 25.3 PPG, 8.8 APG, 4 RPG
Curry needed to be a huge factor for the Warriors to even have a chance against Denver, even more so with David Lee ruled out. The pressure didn’t phase Curry at all, as he has arguably been the best player in this year’s playoffs. Other than Golden State’s last game against the San Antonio Spurs, Steph hasn’t really had many off-games in the playoffs. He has gone from being considered an All-Star snub to a legit superstar, and has been absolutely lethal from beyond the arc, shooting the 3-ball at a 42% clip.
Next page: Most surprising players for Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies.