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TOP 10 PLAYOFF PERFORMERS: With the playoffs set to resume later today, we decided to rank the Top 10 performers so far in the 2019-20 postseason. Statistics and team results were taken into account. Let’s get to it.
10. Jimmy Butler: He’s not even Miami’s leading scorer in the playoffs (that distinction would belong to Goran Dragic), but there’s no doubt Butler was instrumental in the Heat’s first-round sweep of the Indiana Pacers. Not only did the All-Star swingman post a 20/5/4 stat line in four games, his outstanding defense, particularly on the productive TJ Warren, helped Miami cruise to a series victory.
9. Anthony Davis: The Lakers big man leads all playoff participants in average plus/minus at +16.0, and has absolutely dominated Portland’s frontcourt through four games, averaging 26.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks. If he keeps up that level of production, L.A. will be awfully hard to stop on their hunt for No. 17.
8. Rudy Gobert: Averaging 17.6 points (on 69.8 percent shooting, no less), 10.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks, Gobert has been a big reason why the Jazz currently have a 3-2 series lead over Denver. In particular, him keeping fellow star big man Nikola Jokic somewhat in check in their matchup has been huge for Utah. Jokic has an average -4.6 plus/minus in the series.
7. LeBron James: After a slow start to his time in the bubble, LeBron has been spectacular in the postseason, especially after Game 1 of L.A.’s matchup against Portland. Overall for the playoffs, James is averaging a 25/10/10 triple-double while shooting nearly 43 percent from beyond the arc, playing the role of creator and still doing his fair share of scoring for the Lakers wonderfully.
6. Jayson Tatum: The No. 9 leading scorer in the postseason at 27 points per game, Tatum took full advantage of Philadelphia being without Ben Simmons and absolutely dominated whoever matched up against him for the Sixers. Boston’s 4-0 sweep of Philadelphia was in large part thanks to Tatum’s excellence in the series.
5. Giannis Antetokounmpo: It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but Antetokounmpo, named this season’s Defensive Player of the Year this week, has seen his regular-season greatness carry over into the playoffs. The Greek Freak is averaging 31.3 points, 15.8 rebounds and 6.8 assists against Orlando, obscene marks that should worry every team remaining in Milwaukee’s path.
4. Luka Doncic: Despite a couple of quiet outings against the Clippers, Doncic is still posting a 30/10/9 stat line in the postseason, including a 43-point, 17-rebound, 13-assist performance, which featured a game-winner that will be on highlight reels for the rest of his career.
3. Jamal Murray: The Nuggets guard has had All-Star potential since being drafted by Denver, but he hasn’t quite seemed to put it all together… until now. Murray’s ascension these playoffs has been nothing short of spectacular to behold and the duel he’s been having with the No. 1 player on this list is basketball entertainment at its finest. Through five games, Murray is averaging nearly 31 points while shooting 55.7 percent from the floor and 52.4 percent from deep. Oh, and he’s turned the ball over just seven times over those five games, an impressive feat considering the ball-handling duties he has.
2. Kawhi Leonard: Paul George may be going back and forth between being Playoff P and Pandemic P for the Clippers, but his teammate, Leonard, has been steady as a rock all playoffs long. Leonard is averaging 32.8 points in the postseason (the second-best mark among all players) to go along with 9.4 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.8 steals. With the level he’s been performing at, Leonard is more than capable of leading the Clippers all the way to a title in his first year with the team.
1. Donovan Mitchell: It was a pretty easy decision choosing the first-place finisher on this list, as Mitchell has been outrageously good since the playoffs began, dropping at least 30 points four times in five games and at least 50 points twice, including a 57-point performance, the third-highest postseason scoring total in league history. Like Murray, it appears Mitchell has used the 2019-20 playoffs to go from being merely a good player into a great one, and it’ll be fascinating to see what he’s able to do if Utah advances to Round 2 over the weekend.
NBA PLAYERS BOYCOTT: Our own Michael Scotto takes you behind the scenes of what went into the Bucks’ decision to boycott their game and the ramifications of it. The boycott (really more of a strike) was a moment that will be talked about for years to come.
ANOTHER TRAGEDY: In the year that just won’t stop, NBA players react to the heartbreaking news about the tragic passing of Chadwick Boseman, most famous for his role as T’Challa in Black Panther.
Rest in peace, Chadwick, and thank you for sharing your gifts with all of us.
BRODIE RETURNS: Good news for Houston, as Russell Westbrook is ready to return from the quad injury that kept him out of the first four games of the playoffs.
KIDD TO PHILLY? Lakers assistant coach Jason Kidd is reportedly quite interested in Philadelphia’s head coaching vacancy.
That could be disastrous considering his strong personality and the ones already in the Sixers’ locker room, but it could also be interesting to see what Kidd, a non-shooting lead guard himself back in the day, might be able to do with Ben Simmons.
SHAKEUP COMING? Speaking of Philadelphia, Michael Scotto talked to coaches and league executives to find out what they think the Sixers should do with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Trade one? Trade both? Trade neither? Tough decisions ahead for Elton Brand and Co.
HIGH PRAISE: Kevin Durant recently made very interesting comments about burgeoning star Luka Doncic, calling the young phenom a (expletive) problem while discussing how refined his game is.
STAT BLAST: LeBron James has scored more points in the playoffs than a lot of memorable players scored in their entire regular-season careers. Don’t believe us? Just look through some of the names here.
MAMBA DAY: In celebration of Mamba Day early this past week, we put together this awesome gallery of Kobe Bryant with every trophy he won in his career, including the Oscar in 2018. We miss you, Mamba.
COVID-19: Pelicans owner Gayle Benson has tested positive for coronavirus, though her symptoms reportedly haven’t been bad enough to require hospitalization. Here’s hoping she gets better soon.
Basketball, NBA, Newsletter, Playoffs, Newsletter, Anthony Davis, Donovan Mitchell, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jamal Murray, Jayson Tatum, Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James, Luka Doncic, Rudy Gobert