Skip to content

Seven players whose teams need them to step up big in the postseason

Apr 20, 2013, 3:15 PM EDT

New York Knicks v Boston Celtics Getty Images

Jeff Green

Since his 43-point game in mid-March (excluding Boston’s season finale, when regular players rested), Green has averaged 20.0, 5.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. By any eye test, he’s looked excellent. But in that span, the Celtics have been outscored by 3.6 points per 100 possession with him on the court and outscored opponents by 12.5 points per with him on the bench. Green has suffered from playing major minutes with the Celtics’ reserves, and when he’s played with the starters, he’s posted positive net ratings. Once Boston shrinks its playoff rotation, Green should turn into a player who excels individually and helps his team become more successful.

Tayshaun Prince

Prince, once a bastion of durability, just played his first 82-game season since playing every game between the 2003-04 and 2008-09 season. The 2008-09 season was also the last time Prince made the playoffs. In a four-game sweep to LeBron James’ Cavaliers, Prince looked worn down, scoring 15 total points on 27 shots. He’s probably more rejuvenated with Memphis, but he’ll need to show he’s not too old for a long playoff run.

Jerryd Bayless

Bayless has given the Grizzlies a nice scoring punch off the bench, leading the team’s reserves with 8.7 points per game. But he also makes Mike Conley better, allowing Conley a break from full-time ball-handling duties while keeping the starting point guard on the court and contributing as a scorer. In the 64 contest the combination has been used, Bayless and Conley play 10 minutes per game together and help the Grizzlies outscore  opponents by 10.2 possessions per 100 possessions. As long as Bayless plays well, that makes managing a think backcourt much easier easier.

DeAndre Jordan

Last season, Jordan’s playing time shrunk from 27.2 minutes per game in the regular season to 21.6 minutes per game in a playoff series with the Grizzlies. Now that that Jordan is down to 24.5 minutes per game in the regular season, how much less can can he play against Memphis this year? Los Angeles had Reggie Evans and Kenyon Martin last season to battle Marc Gasol inside, but can the Clippers rely on Lamar Odom this year? If Jordan proves he can make his free throws and remain engaged, he’ll stay on the court and they won’t have to answer that question.

Jeremy Lin

In Houston’s two losses to the Thunder, Lin scored 13 points on 6-of-15 shooting. In the Rockets’ win, he scored 29 points on 12-of-22 shooting. James Harden can’t carry the scoring load alone, and Lin is the wildcard who could help him – or get shut down by Oklahoma City’s impressive defensive backcourt.

Steve Nash

Nash’s numbers are down – his win shares and win shares per 48 minutes are both his lowest in the last 13 years – partially because the Lakers’ Kobe-centric system kept the ball out of his hands. But at 39 years old, Nash is no longer close to the same player he was just two years ago. With Kobe out, the Lakers have little choice but to empower Nash to run the offense. Does he have enough left in the tank to lead one more playoff run? I doubt it, but that’s probably their only hope of advancing.

J.R. Smith

The Knicks started the season 23-10 and ended with a 16-2 stretch. Between, they went 15-16. Smith was effective during both New York’s high periods and its low period, and that illustrates the excellent season he’s having. But Smith was definitely better during the highs (shooting 45 percent) than the low (shooting 36 percent). Few players can match Smith’s talent, and when he’s using all of it, the Knicks are so much better. There risk of Smith flaming out in the playoffs is lower than most could have envisioned, but that doesn’t change how much better he can make the Knicks when he play his best.

Latest Posts
  1. Tony Parker hits a back over-the-head halfcourt shot (VIDEO)

    Sep 21, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

    Tony Parker Tony Parker

    I’m pretty sure Popovich doesn’t want him taking one of these in a game.

  2. Hornets’ Jeff Taylor says he’s recovered from ruptured Achilles

    Sep 21, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    Dallas Mavericks v Charlotte Bobcats Dallas Mavericks v Charlotte Bobcats

    He’s going to fight for minutes at a crowded wing spot in Charlotte.

  3. Andrew Wiggins says he doesn’t feel much pressure heading to Minnesota

    Sep 21, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    Timberwolves New Players Getty Images

    Nobody expects much from the Timberwolves or Wiggins this season, outside of a few highlight dunks.

  4. Report: Zoran Dragic “in advanced discussions” to leave Europe for Suns next season

    Sep 21, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    BASKET-EURO-2013-SRB-SVN Getty Images

    A team is going to have to pay him at least $2 million a year to make it worth his while.

  5. Jeanie Buss ‘not worried’ about Kobe coming back and contributing for Lakers

    Sep 21, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    Boston Celtics v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Lakers president believes Bryant is ready after he missed all but six games last season due to injury.

  6. Timberwolves ‘not necessarily in a rush’ to agree to contract extension with Ricky Rubio

    Sep 20, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

    Ricky Rubio AP

    Rubio may not like it, but Minnesota can retain his rights in restricted free agency next summer.

  7. Report: Gustavo Ayon’s deal with Real Madrid worth $6.6 million over three years

    Sep 20, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT

    Australia v Mexico - 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup Getty Images

    Big man from Mexico preferred to remain in the NBA, but took the payday to return overseas.

  8. Kobe Bryant may join ownership group attempting to purchase Italian soccer team

    Sep 20, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT

    Kobe Bryant Kobe Bryant

    With two years left in the NBA, Bryant has an eye on life after basketball.

  9. Taj Gibson says he’s fine coming off the bench for Bulls: ‘Please miss me with the drama’

    Sep 20, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

    Taj Gibson Taj Gibson

    A previous report said Gibson was less than thrilled with remaining a reserve.

  10. Andray Blatche signs deal to play in China next season

    Sep 20, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Brooklyn Nets Getty Images

    Blatche can play, but the NBA offers simply weren’t there.

  11. Giant LeBron James banner approved to hang in downtown Cleveland once again

    Sep 20, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    lebron-banner

    10-story-high banner will return after a similar one was taken down when James left in 2010.

  12. Report: Ramon Sessions signs 2-year deal with Kings

    Sep 20, 2014, 12:28 PM EDT

    Ramon Sessions AP

    Sessions could start at point guard for Sacramento.

  13. Report: Former NBA player Rex Chapman arrested for stealing product from Apple store

    Sep 19, 2014, 9:45 PM EDT

    Rex Chapman, Ashley Judd Rex Chapman, Ashley Judd

    Chapman played four years for the Suns, and is facing charges in Scottsdale, AZ.

Featured video

What players stood out at World Cup?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. R. Rondo (2649)
  2. L. James (2598)
  3. E. Bledsoe (2499)
  4. K. Bryant (2412)
  5. D. Rose (2285)
  1. K. Irving (1952)
  2. R. Allen (1807)
  3. K. Durant (1645)
  4. N. Young (1588)
  5. G. Oden (1472)