With the 2013 NBA Playoffs upon us, USSDU takes a look at some Non All Stars poised to do some damage.[caption id="attachment_15782" align="aligncenter" width="558"] Photo Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports[/caption]
Deron Williams, Brooklyn NetsSeason Stats – 18.9ppg, 7.7apg & 3.0rpg Once upon a time there was a lot of discussion about the best point guard in the NBA between Chris Paul and Deron Williams, with the debate always about even. In the last couple of seasons since that famous Utah-New Jersey trade, Deron has struggled to maintain an All-Star quality level and opinions around the league have changed significantly. Think back a few months ago when the Nets were hovering around .500 and in the process of firing Avery Johnson, Deron was at his lowest of lows. His shooting numbers looked horrible and pundits were questioning if the massive contract given to him by the Nets was justified. Fast forward to today and the Nets are facing the Bulls in Round One of the 2013 NBA Playoffs and Deron is back to the top of his game. Averaging 22.9ppg and 8.0apg in March and April has gone a long way to the strong finish by the Nets. If Deron can work his magic in the playoffs and feed Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace the ball for open shots then the Nets might just be able to challenge the Heat in a few games.
Ty Lawson, Denver NuggetsSeason Stats - 16.7ppg, 6.9apg & 2.7rpg This Denver Nuggets team of 2012/13 is starting to become a fan favourite after a strong finish to the season highlighted by their excellent home record (38-3). Much like the Sonics sides of the mid 00's, this team runs a high tempo style of play that makes them fun to watch. Coach George Karl is a big reason for their style as he's been working on this system for the past few seasons with limited success. Now the Nuggets have a solid collection of bigs, wing players and scoring guards primed to make an impact in the playoffs with their #3 seed. To do that they need a guy who can be the "go-to" guy down the stretch and Coach Karl has been grooming Lawson for this role since his rookie year. While Andre Miller has been taking over in games at the end of the regular season, this will all change once Lawson is healthy and willing.
Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee BucksSeason Stats - 17.4ppg, 6.5apg & 3.1rpg Brandon Jennings has much to prove in the 2013 NBA Playoffs given he will be hunting a big contract in the off-season and also because he ran his mouth before the Miami series saying the Bucks will "win in six". After such big words one would expect Jennings to be extra motivated to make sure he doesn't look like a fool on the big stage. Ever since his rookie year we haven't really seen a big improvement in Brandon's game, but every now and then he gives us a glimpse of what could be if he put in the effort. Towards the end of the season he put together an impressive streak where he had four consecutive games of 10+ assists (Bucks went 3-1 in those games) and everyone was heralding him as the player he was destined to be in his rookie season. If he wants that big contract or for people to start respecting his game then a big performance in this series could go a long way in achieving it. While the series looks to be a 4-0 sweep on paper there isn't a reason why Jennings couldn't explode for 40 points in a game and rock the Miami championship boat for an upset win.
Chris Andersen, Miami HeatSeason Stats - 4.9ppg, 4.1rpg & 1.0bpg Yes, a player that averages Brian Scalabrine numbers is one of the top ten most important non-All Stars in the 2013 NBA Playoffs. Hear me out before you decide to head elsewhere on the internet. With Chris Andersen in the line-up the Miami Heat are an amazing 40-3, that's forty wins and only three losses! I'm not saying that he is the only reason Miami went on such a great run but he provides what the Heat have been missing for two and a half years, a big man that can run, rebound, block shots and catch a basketball. That last point is very important because while it may seem like a basic thing to do, most big men fail epically at this task because they aren't naturally coordinated. Andersen brings a great skill set and experience that Miami desperately need if they were going to reign supreme once again. The Birdman will be given the daunting task of manning Miami's front line against the powerhouses of Tyson Chandler, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins, Tim Duncan and/or Roy Hibbert. If he performs well then Miami will have gone a long way to another ring.
Derrick Rose, Chicago BullsSeason Stats - 0.0ppg, 0.0apg & 0.0rpg Derrick is on this list because if he returns he will instantly strike fear into the hearts of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Never mind the talk about easing into it after taking so long off, word is he has been ripping up in 5-5 practice and is by far the best player on the court. After doctors had cleared him to play 6 weeks ago, everyone was expecting Rose to return for a couple of weeks before the playoffs to get a feel for the game again and be firing on all cylinders in Round One. Instead he is sitting on the bench watching Joakim Noah struggle up and down the floor with plantar fasciitis in an effort to will his team to the next round. This has to be one of the strangest "comebacks" in NBA history as no one wants to say a bad word about him even though it is clearly costing his team a chance at playoffs glory.
Who do you think deserves to be on this list but has been left out? Post your comments in the section below.