5 Surprise Players From the First Round of the NBA Playoffs
The first round of the NBA playoffs have been as exciting as any that I can recall from recent memory. We’ve seen all of the regular superstars take over games and try to drag the rest of their team toward victory. However, there have also been some standouts that many people, including myself, didn't exactly expect to see perform at such a high level. Let's take a quick look at five of those players who have made a greater postseason impact than they did over the course of the regular season.
1. Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
Green is showing in these playoffs why he's such a tremendous basketball player. He’s averaging 9.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.67 blocks and 1.67 steals per game, and is now starting with Andrew Bogut out with an injury. This is approximately 3.5 points and 3.5 rebounds more per game than he averaged in the regular season. Really, there are very few players that have the ability to contribute across five statistical categories during the playoffs, making Green such a valuable asset. On this Warriors team, Green isn't usually called upon to score in bunches, but he does all of the little things to help make this team successful. He should continue to provide solid production since he’s averaging 31.3 minutes per game. And now, we’ll have an opportunity to see if Green and his teammates can win Game 7.
2. Tony Allen, Memphis Grizzlies
There have been a number of articles talking about Allen recently on numberFire (like this one, for instance), but I can’t avoid mentioning him again. Allen was pretty much an afterthought during the regular season, but he's re-established his credentials as a tremendous shut-down defender during these playoffs. He's managing to make one of the truly gifted scorers in the NBA, Kevin Durant, look almost ordinary at times. Allen is also contributing on the offensive end through five games with 11.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 1.5 assists per game, a solid 3.0 points and 4.5 rebounds more per contest than he averaged during the regular season. Without Allen, it seems safe to say that the Grizzlies would not be tied in this series right now.
3. Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs
Ginobili is reminding everyone of his All-Star caliber talent during the Spurs first-round series with the Mavericks. Through five games, Ginobili is averaging 19.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.8 steals per contest, all while coming off of the bench. He’s also shooting over 41.4% from three-point range, giving the Spurs a threat from downtown. Ginobili has really made a difference in this series, and he's given the Spurs that needed third scorer for the playoffs (averaging over 7 more points per game in the postseason).
4. Tiago Splitter, San Antonio Spurs
Splitter has really emerged during this first round playoff series. He’s been a force in the middle against the Mavericks and is averaging 11.0 points, 10.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game while shooting close to 63% from the field. His rebounding alone is up 4 per game, and he’s shooting almost 10% better from the field as compared to the regular season.
5. Greivis Vasquez, Toronto Raptors
Vasquez has pushed Terrence Ross to the bench during the Raptors first round series with the Brooklyn Nets. He's been excellent and is playing over 28 minutes while averaging 12 points, 6.6 assists and 4.2 rebounds (over 2 more points, rebounds and assists than he averaged during the regular season) per game. He’s played with and without Kyle Lowry, and has been productive in both situations. Vasquez has helped the Raptors gain a 3-2 edge on the Nets, and they will be looking to close the series out on the road.