May 21, 2010
We're a little over a month into the 2010 postseason, and despite the sheer length of the run thus far, it still feels as if we've played, oh, about 26 games. Lots of sweeps, plenty of one-sided affairs, lots of time to reflect.
Time to reflect? Yeah, that's the ticket! Why not tick too many fans off, and point out who we think have had the best postseason thus far? Click the jump to have at it.
It might surprise some to note that I don't consider Kobe Bryant(notes) to even be the best Laker on his own team so far this postseason, but all-around production matters, and in spite of Kobe Bryant's brilliant scoring exploits, Pau Gasol's in-his-prime versatility vaults him to the top of this list.
Fifty-eight percent shooting, over 21 points per game, 12 rebounds a contest, 3.6 assists, two blocks a game, and just 2.2 turnovers per night. On top of that, Gasol's continually improving defense has been a huge asset to a Laker attack that looks primed to repeat.
Rondo earns extra points for his defensive dominance, he's allowed some big quarters against Mo Williams(notes) and Jameer Nelson(notes), but by and large he's been a pest. Shutting his man down, always looking for a passing lane to mess with.
Eighteen points and six rebounds per game for Rajon, who has tossed around 10.6 assists in what are mainly slow-down contests, with fewer possessions to work with. Fifty percent shooting and two steals per contest for the Celtics lead guard, who has outright dominated on both ends at times.
3. Kobe Bryant
After a slow (for him) start, Kobe has come on like Kobe over the last couple of weeks, seeing his seven-game streak of 30-point contests end with only a 13-assist night (what a slacker) in Game 2 against the Suns.
Most importantly, after months spent working endless pick and rolls with Pau Gasol during the regular season, Kobe has chiseled out a place inside the Laker offense, getting his looks and doing his damage in a way that kept the ball moving, and his opponents on their heels. His 27.5 points per game isn't that far off his regular-season average, but it's the way that he's getting these points that is leading to Los Angeles' white-hot 105 points per game. Bryant is averaging 5.6 assists, 3.4 turnovers, and 4.1 rebounds per game.
In turning in over 29 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, and 3.5 combined steals and blocks per contest over 11 games, LBJ easily has the best stats of anyone who has played in the 2010 postseason.
And yet, it speaks to how great he is, and how disappointing his playoff run was, that he was able to put up those stats while effectively submarining his team's chances at getting out of the second round with a listless performance in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semis, and a way-too-late barrage in Game 6. James could have done better, which is the reason he can't do better than fourth on this list.
Funny, because for all of Kobe Bryant's last-second theatrics during the regular season, James still scored way more, shot better, rebounded twice as much, and dished three times as many assists than Bryant in the clutch in the regular season. Not sure what the Celtics did to make it all go away, but it worked.
A bit of a surprise, but when you manage to shoot 52 percent from the field and nearly 51 percent from behind the three-point line after 12 playoff games, this sort of fluke has to be recognized.
That's not a slam. J-Rich was and will continue to be a fine outside shooter, but he's not shooting 50.6 percent from long range for the rest of his career, and that is why this is a fluke. But it's also a fluke that has the Suns in the conference finals, as Richardson's 21.8 points per game average has led the team. Six rebounds per game for the Michigan State product, and he's only turned it over eight times since the playoffs began. Nicely done, my man.
Had the Mavericks played a little longer, with Dirk no doubt approximating his averages of 26.7 points per game on 55 percent shooting, 8.2 rebounds and just 1.7 turnovers a contest, Nowitzki would probably be duking it out with Pau and Rondo at the top.
As it is, the Mavs were out in the first round, and though Dirk had some chances to aid his Mavericks down the stretch of a few of their losses to San Antonio, the biggest reason they were in those losses to begin with was because of Nowitzki's superb play.
To be sure, Williams faded a bit against the Lakers in the second round. The pairing with Derek Fisher(notes), the supposedly one-sided matchup that could have put Los Angeles on its heels, never seemed to work well for DW.
Over 24 points per game in the playoffs, though, for the Jazz guard, and 45 percent shooting, 10.3 assists, and three turnovers per contest. Something tells me, for all the "He's the best point guard in the NBA!" heavy breathing that surrounded his little run, Williams is far from happy about how things ended up in that second round.
Wade's stats are sublime — 33.2 points on 56 percent shooting, with 12.4 combined rebounds/assists and 3.2 combined blocks/steals — but he had to work in only five games, was given carte blanche in the Miami "offense," and he turned it over 5.2 times a game.
That's 5.2, brothers and sisters. And while there's no good place for a turnover, some happened to come through at the worst times in the first around against Boston.
Get some help, see you next year, D-Wade.
9. Jameer Nelson
A little bundle of awesome, Nelson's 19 points and five assists might not seem like much until you realize that he's turned it over on just 7.7 percent of the possessions he's used up. That's an astonishing rate for anyone, much less a lead guard. Even if the lead guard was guarded by Mike Bibby(notes) for four games.
Howard's had his issues — the entire first round, Game 1 of the conference finals — but overall he's still found a way to pile up the impact. Pile it up!
He's averaging 16.6 points on 63 percent shooting, 3.6 blocks in only 33 minutes per game, and 11 rebounds. Now, if only he could do something about those four turnovers a game. Or Orlando's 0-2 deficit to Boston.