The 10 Best Players in the Playoffs
FiredUp Network Sports Writer
Wednesday, May 10, 2023
The NBA playoffs have been extraordinary; from the surging Lakers, to the gritty Kings, the magic of Jimmy Butler, Steph Curry's wizardry, and so much more. It has been the best post season in recent memory and I can't wait to see how it all unfolds. In all my excitement, I decided to make a list of my top 10 players in the 2023 NBA Playoffs. This is not a top 10 in the leauge list, it's a list of the ten best players currnetly in the Playoffs. Here we go...
10. Lebron James
He's clearly in the twilight of his career, and not the same player as he once was. But in spots he can still be dominant. In 2007, against the Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals, Lebron scored 29 of his teams 30 points in a 16 minute stretch in the 4th quarter of game 5, going 11/13. He's not going to do that again in 2023, but for 2-5 minute stretches he can be just as dominant on both ends of the floor. And he's the vocal and emotional leader on this Lakers team that harkens back to a bygone era and stays in every game by sheer will and efffort on the defensive end.
9. Jalen Brown
He's the most efficient Celtic, the leading scorer in the second half for the Celtics in the playoffs, and he's their best perimiter defender. There are times it seems he's more the alpha leader of the Celtics on the court, instead of Jayson Tatum. He's a great 2-way player, but his ceiling isn't quite as high as most of the others on this list.
8. Devin Booker
He's been so much fun to watch in these playoffs, I'm not sure he can stay as hot as he's been shooting the ball but right now it's certainly mesmorizing. He's shooting over 60% for the playoffs, which is just unreal considering how many three's he shoots and the fact that he's not a big man. Normally, anyone shooting over 55% consistently is a big who gets a lot of rebounds, close baskets, dunks, and layups. The downside is his defense, he has the worst defensive rating of any player on this list. If not for that, similar to Jokic, he would be much higher.
7. Joel Embiid
He leads the 76ers in points, rebounds, blocks, and he's the reigning NBA MVP. He's the 2nd best rim protector in the postseason, and like Anthony Davis, he changes the way the opponent plays offense. Historically, players who other teams have to specifically game plan around win a lot of games and titles. If Embid can stay healthy, the sky is the limit for him and the 6ers.
6. Jayson Tatum
He's 5th in scoring this postseason, averaging 26.9 ppg and at times he's the most dominant player on the floor. He's a do everything type player with inside and outside game on offense and he can cover 4 postitions on defense at a high level. But he dissapears sometimes in games, often in key moments. He has the potential to be an all time great, and at only 25 years old he still has time, but he needs to take charge of this celtics team and be it's consistent leader.
5. Kevin Durant
The Suns have no bench depth, but they finished the regular season on a blazing hot streak due to Durant joining the team, and he's played the most minutes of any player this postseason. He's not quite the defender he once was and he's the 2nd leading scorer on his team, but he's still a good defender, he's the only Sun who'se previously played in the Finals, and he's still one of the best basketball players in the world.
4. Jimmy Butler
He's the 3rd leading scorer in the playoffs, shooting 56%! He's like booker on the offensive end, just sizzling hot right now. He plays above and beyond in the playoffs, he's been doing it since 2020. He's also an elite level perimiter defender. Basically, he's what Kawhi Leonard could be if he played regularly. But, he's only 1 game back from an ankle injury that kept him out of most of the current semi final series against the Knicks. Here's to hoping he can remain healthy, because playoff Jimmy Butler is sensational.
3. Nikola Jokic
Withouth his defensive limitations, Jokic would likely be #1 on this list. His size, court vision, passing ability, shot making, and overall basketball IQ on the offensive end are unmatched. There's just no one else in the league with that immense skill set along with the physical presence to dominate in the post and lead the team in rebounds. The Nuggets will go as far as Jokic can take them.
2. Stephen Curry
The Warriors are not a playoff team without him. This year in the playoffs, they are +56 with him on the floor and -52 when he's off it. He's leading the postseason in points and threes, and he's shown the ability to adapt his game to whatever the Warriors need to win not only in the playoffs, but really for his entire career. In game 4 against the Lakers he went for 31 points, 14 assists, 10 rebounds, took 30 shots, and still only had 2 turnovers.
And if Klay Thompson doesn't try to play hero ball at the end, Curry might have guided the Warriors to a win on Monday night.
1. Anthony Davis
He has the highest +/- in the playoffs, leads the NBA in blocks (leads by 14), leads in contested shots (150), and He's the #1 rim protector in the league when he's healthy. If the Lakers win the title, it means as much or more for Davis' legeacy as it does for Lebron's. He is sometimes inconsistent on offense, but has been healthy and has led the Lakers in scoring in this postseason.