Some of the teams that are title contenders have 2 of the top 10 players in the game on their team (Lakers, Clippers), and others are expected to do damage by committee (Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, Denver Nuggets, and Utah Jazz). We all expect the brightest star on each team vying for the title to do their thing, but there are a few teams that, if the “Robin’ steps up big time to help their proverbial Batman, will stand a good chance of getting to the finals.
1. Russell Westbrook
“Small ball” high octane offense has been the name of the game for the Houston Rockets, and it’s been pretty lethal. Harden is an MVP frontrunner this year, but let’s not underrate the unbelievable year Russell Westbrook has had, averaging 27, 8, 7. His 3 point shooting has been iffy at just 25%, but he’s been absolutely dominating scoring in the paint for the Rockets. This is critical for the Rocket’s success. Westbrook pushing the ball, creating opportunities for teammates, rebounding, all diversify the Rockets offense from just having James Harden on an island doing his thing, which – in a 7 game series – won’t be enough to get to the promised lands.
2. Khris Middleton
Middleton may be the most underrated star right now. It’s easy to be underappreciated when playing second fiddle to the Greek Freak. But Middleton has averaged a cool 21 ppg this season, which will have to be the bare minimum for him to produce come playoffs, particularly in the later rounds. Otherwise, the Bucks risk opposing defenses figuring out and collapsing on Giannis during a 7-game series grind, which is exactly what sent the Bucks home last year.
3. Kristaps Porzingis
KP has been nothing short of sensational in the bubble, he has the 6th highest point average in the league at about 30.5 ppg. This is a great sign for the Dallas Mavericks, as the Lithuanian has used this season to get back into the swing of things after a long injury hiatus. Safe to say, KP is back to his all-star level self, but if he continues this level going into the playoffs, the Clippers could be looking at a long series dealing with the young and deadly duo of Doncic and the Zinger!