The NBA Playoffs: where legacies are defined, history is made, and stars are born. It seems that each year’s playoffs provide the NBA with new up-and-coming stars. In years previous, guys such as Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, and Stephen Curry have showcased their transition from great to super-stardom with tremendous postseasons.
This year was no different. Here are a few players who elevated their games in the playoffs thus far:
The playoffs could not have started worse for Isaiah after a career year that thrusted him int the MVP conversation. Days before his first-round series kicked off, his sister Chyna passed away in a car accident. With inspiring amounts of courage, Isaiah decided to play in all of the first-round games dedicating his play to his sister.
After falling in an 0-2 hole to the Chicago Bulls in round one, despite excellent performances from Thomas due to the circumstances, IT helped carry the Boston Celtics to four straight wins and a series victory. In the second game of round two, Isaiah poured in a playoff high 53 points on his late sister’s birthday. This was the second highest scoring output of any Celtic in franchise history and the most in a playoff game since Allen Iverson.
What was holding back Isaiah from entering the conversation of the best was his height. People doubted his ability to succeed in the playoffs because it’s a different game. It’s safe to say that he can succeed and that he truly is a superstar point guard in this league.
On the other side of this Wizards-Celtics series, the NBA has seen the point guard who has challenged Isaiah Thomas basket-for-basket. Wall offers a rare combination of size, speed, ball handling, vision, and the ability to score making him an impossible matchup.
While Isaiah ended up winning the overtime battle in Game two, John Wall impressed while filling the box score himself, tallying 40 points and 13 assists. He then followed his performance with two excellent games, dictating the tempo and carrying the Wizards back to even the series.
Wall may be the best point guard in the Eastern Conference. With performances like these, he is forcing himself into the conversation of superstars in this league.
Hayward quietly had a very impressive season, helping the Jazz snag the 4-seed in the loaded Western Conference. He averaged a stat line of 21.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game, and was an offensive star for this defensive minded team.
In the Playoffs, he elevated his game even further, averaging 24 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game before being swept by the seemingly immortal Golden State Warriors. Regardless, Hayward helped will the Jazz past the Los Angeles Clippers in a tough 7-game series many thought the Clippers would win. Hayward played terrific in the Warriors series, continuing to carry the offensive load while keeping the games competitive.
Hayward is an unrestricted free agent this upcoming off-season and a departure from Utah would be brutal to this young team’s hope for future seasons. He is their offensive leader and replacing his production would be very difficult. One thing is for certain, whatever team lands Hayward this off-season gets a bona-fide offensive star who’s continuing to improve.