2020 NBA Playoffs: LeBron James to rookie Tyler Herro, here's a look at 10 players who created all the buzz
The 2019-20 NBA season has finally come to an end and after spending close to well over two 60 days in the bubble, there was a new winner and it was the Los Angeles Lakers as they made their way to their 17th NBA Championship as they defeated the Miami Heat in Game 6 on Sunday, October 11. With that win, there's anticipation for the new season and the time to pick some of the stars who dished out some scintillating performances in the recently concluded season.
It was perhaps during the playoffs some of these players came fully alive and hit their straps making each game memorable. Here are ten players across teams who had a great season and are marked for the future.
That LeBron was gunning for a championship and a fourth ring doesn't come as a surprise. At 35, he still put in the hard yards and was his vintage self, scoring at will for the Lakers in his 17th season in the NBA. In the NBA Postseason Stat Leaders of the season, James boasts 8.8 assists per game and 27.6 points on an average. While age can be attributed to his dip in defense, he overcame that hurdle when he upped his defense skills in the finals against the Heat
Another driver of the Lakers' success. With an average of 27.7 points per game along with 9.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists, Davis is undoubtedly the star for the men in purple and gold as he dished out impressive performances game after game for the Lakers. His chemistry with James played a crucial role in the team's success story this season. While his lack of playoff experiences and fitness issues were stated as a concern, the 27-year-old quashed all these doubts as he put in an exceptional performance.
Butler is the man who single-handedly led the fight for the Miami Heat in Game 5 to ensure the Los Angeles Lakers would not walk away with an easy win in the NBA Finals. That said, Butler is a vital cog in the Heat setup as he averaged close to 22.2 points per game and 6.5 REB and 6.0 AST. His point-to-point matchup against James in the finals saw him gain massive respect from Heat fans.
Rookie Herro went from coming off the bench to a regular starter. The 20-year-old with fast hands and his ability to ghost past the defense was instrumental for the Heat in their playoff journey. Herro was having a decent season, except he just turned it into a ridiculously good season in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics. His 37 points off the bench saw Miami take a 3-1 lead pipping Boston and that was when he became a regular starter.
The Jamal Murray effect was felt across the bubble when he pipped opponent after opponent almost single-handedly. Murray and Donovan Mitchell in the playoffs were the pair to watch out for the Denver Nuggets and the Utah Jazz as they went on a relentless scoring spree. Mitchell averaged 26.5 points per game coupled with 4.8 REB and 6.6 AST. Murray's style of play that saw him being compared to the immensely talented Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors.
The Houston Rockets may have lost some momentum after a strong start against the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round of the NBA playoffs. But James Harden was relentless even as his teammate, Russell Westbrook struggled with a form slump. He averaged 29.6 points with 5.6 REB and 7.7 AST. And on days when his offense misfired, he managed to still turn the game on its head with some intense defense. One of the classic examples was his block against Dort of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Tatum has been the Boston Celtics go-to offense man. He impressed with 29 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists and found solid support from Jaylen Brown chipping in with 21 points and eight rebounds, along with Marcus Smart—16 points, six assists, and three steals to lead the Greens to the Eastern Conference Finals as the side pipped the Toronto Raptors. Tatum averages 25.7 points with 10 REB and 5 AST. For the Celtics, he's clearly a man for the future.
The Los Angeles Clippers had one answer when asked who their complete player was as Leonard finds himself with an average of 28.2 points and 9.3 REB and 5.5 AST this playoff season. The playoff success was a major hurdle and while they were overshadowed by Jamal Murray's brilliance, it's safe to say Leonard was their driving force this season.
Damian Lillard's 24.3 avg points along with 3.5 REB and 4.3 AST saw the man blazing the trail for Portland. They gave the Los Angeles Lakers a solid fight in the playoffs and Lillard was a stiff challenge. He lived up to the tag of being one of the best clutch shot makers with his red-hot scoring in the final minutes of quite a few games. He also became the first player after Wilt Chamberlain to register three 60-point games in a season.
The Ringer has made an astute observation where it outlines that Luka has picked up a lesson from LeBron James where the weak link is picked on and used to dismantle the defense. "Almost half of his offensive possessions came as the ball handler in the pick-and-roll. Not only is he at his best when attacking a scrambling defense, but those plays also allow him to pick and choose exactly who he wants to attack," the site analyzed. And rightfully so as the 21-year-old battled an injury and went undeterred to score an average of 31 points along with 9.8 REB and 8.7 AST.
Veteran Chris Paul ensured his former Houston Rockets team didn't get the easy way out when it came to making it past them in the playoffs. With 21.3 points and 7.4 REB and 4.3 AST, Paul became one of Oklahoma's main men to turn the heat on in the playoffs.