NBA playoffs 2022: Under-the-radar factors for all 16 teams

If NBA fans outside Pennsylvania didn’t know the name Tyrese MaxeyYes, they do.

While the Toronto RaptorsWe were focusing on superstars Joel EmbiidAnd James HardenThe Philadelphia 76ersWith 38 points scored in Game 1, the second-year guard showed why he is so important to their success.

“The Maxey Game” is the performance that would have triggered a deep playoff run for the 76ers.

This got us thinking: What other factors might be hiding in the first round? What under-the radar players could win a game or a series by themselves?

Our NBA experts have broken down one player from each of the 16 playoff teams. He could be a long-range shooter, a defensive star or a leader who can lead his team to victory.

MORE: Takeaways from Day 2 of the playoffs | Intel on all 16 teams

NBA playoffs 2022: Under-the-radar factors for all 16 teams

Johnson had the best season of his young career and set personal records across the board. He was one of the top Sixth Man Of The Year candidates, scoring 12.5 points per contest in 26.2 minutes and shooting 42.5% from the 3.

Example: March 4, vs. Knicks

A game without Chris PaulAnd Devin BookerJohnson scored 38 points, including 9 of 12 from deep, and the game-winning 3 pointer at the buzzer.

Johnson was able to hit at least two 3s in 12 out of 21 playoff games last year, giving us a glimpse of his potential on the biggest stage. Johnson's worst performance in the entire Suns run was in Game 6, which was the Bucks' NBA Finals-clinching win. Johnson scored only three points on 1-for-5 shots, giving him the motivation to bounce back in this postseason.

— Dave McMenamin


Herro is known for his quick heat and will be crucial to the Heat's postseason success. He will be able to spread the floor, which will open up more possibilities. Jimmy Butler, Bam AdebayoOther teammates. Herro has already proven that he's not afraid of the biggest stage. He showed this during the 2020 playoffs, when he consistently hit crucial shots during the Heat's run towards the Finals.

Example: Jan. 8 against the Suns

Herro was the winner of Herro's 33-yard drop and went 12-for-20 on the field against the league-leading Suns in a 123-1100 win. Herro's game made all the difference ThisSeason is his consistency. Erik Spoelstra, the Heat coach, knew what Herro was expecting from him on most nights. That is what will propel Herro in this postseason run.

— Nick Friedell


Clarke, who logged only nine minutes last year in the playoffs, will have to play a significant role in this series with Minnesota if Clarke wants to be Grizzlies' best player. Jaren Jackson Jr.As the primary defender for All-Star center, I spend a lot of my time. Karl-Anthony Towns. Clarke excels offensively as a roll threat and can defend forwards.

Example: Timberwolves vs. Timberwolves on Nov. 8th and Jan. 13th

Clarke was an integral part of both Memphis' victories over Minnesota this season. Clarke was a key contributor to both the Grizzlies' wins over Minnesota this season, scoring 17 points and 8.5 rebounds. He also shot 66.7% from below the floor. In those two games, the Grizzlies beat the Timberwolves 25-26 with Clarke on the court. Clarke joined Memphis this season and Memphis was plus-20 for 23 minutes. Ja MorantJackson and Jackson at the floor.

— Tim MacMahon


White was exactly the player the Celtics wanted when he arrived in Boston just before the trade deadline. He is one of the best perimeter defenders in the league and an offensively-minded player. White's 3-point shooting is what could decide whether Boston makes it to the playoffs. After shooting at 35% in the previous two seasons, White shot below 31% with Celtics.

Let's take, for example, April 7 vs. Bucks

Although Boston lost to Milwaukee in the final game of the regular season, White's performance of 19 points, seven rebounds and 4-for-8 3-point shooting was exactly what the Celtics want.

— Tim Bontemps


In Game 1 against the Nuggets', the Warriors had 10 players in halftime. The best part is that they could have played 11.

Kuminga was not given rotational time, but Warriors coach Steve Kerr said that Kuminga is the next man on the bench. Kuminga is seen by the Warriors as a player who can make a difference. The Warriors will send Kuminga to help a player who is having a tough time or needs extra energy.

Example: March 23, vs. Heat

Kuminga's February and March minutes were increasing, which showed his value to Golden State. Kuminga was the Warriors' best player against the Heat. Kuminga not only showed his physicality, but also displayed his improved ballhandling. Kuminga played against Bam Adebayo who is regarded as one of the best league defenders.

Kuminga has always been able stay available, even when he doesn't play consistently. Kuminga has to be ready for any situation, such as the playoffs. With lineups and rotations changing night to night, Kuminga will need to be ready to make an impact and potentially shift a series or game.

— Kendra Andrews


In an effort to slow down, opposing teams have focused so much on defending the paint. Giannis AntetokounmpoAllen has had plenty of shooting space, as it often has. Allen was already at the postseason with a heater and shot 47.9% from beyond his arc since the All Star break. Allen has already been at the center of controversy during Bulls-Bucks matchupsHe has been a disappointment this season so it would be ironic if his performance could win him a game.

Example: April 5, vs. Bulls

Allen hasn’t shot well from 3 against Bulls this season but has had success scoring against Chicago. Allen scored 12 points in the second half of their last regular-season matchup — tied for the team record — to help the Bulls get thrashed.

Jamal Collier


Finney-Smith would be a highly sought-after free agent if Dallas hadn't signed him to a $45 million, four-year contract extension right after the trade deadline. Finney-Smith is primarily known as a defensive player. Donovan MitchellAs his primary assignment, he was assigned in the first round. Finney Smith has become a formidable 3-point threat over the last two months, scoring 45.2% on his six attempts in the game.

Example: March 7 vs. Jazz

The Mavs believe Finney-Smith’s performance against the Jazz in the final season is an indication of his potential impact in this series. Finney-Smith scored 21 points in the game on 8-of-14 shooting (including 10-of-10 from 3-point range). Mitchell had to do everything, and Mitchell finished with 17 points on 5-of-19 shooting.

— MacMahon


With Matisse Thybulle sidelined for the games in TorontoGreen was not fully vaccinated so he has been moved into the starting line-up. The three-time NBA champion is not as confident as he was when he was 34 years old, but he is Philadelphia’s only two-way wingsman and will be there throughout the playoffs.

Example: April 7 vs. Raptors

Green had a 39-minute performance in Philadelphia's loss to Toronto without Thybulle. He scored 18 points, five boards, four assists and one steal in that game. Green also went 6-for-7 from 3-point range. Philadelphia would love this kind of performance a few times during the playoffs.

Bontemps


Although Clarkson's production was less efficient this season due to his 2021 Sixth man of the year campaign, his scoring off of the bench is still a key component of the Jazz's success. Clarkson scored at least 20 points in Utah's 16-6 record. Clarkson's 20-plus playoff points are a major reason why the Jazz are 5-1.

Case in point: April 5 vs. Grizzlies

In a meeting with Memphis in the late season, Mitchell was unsuccessful shooting 6-of-24 from the floor. The Jazz beat the Grizzlies by overtime due to Clarkson's efficient 22-point performance from the bench, shooting 7-of-13 on the floor. Clarkson also recorded five assists, which was his fourth-highest season total.

— MacMahon


Trent averaged 18.3 point per game and shot 38.3% (3-point range) this season. This gave the Raptors an additional consistent offensive weapon. Fred VanVleetAnd Pascal SiakamAll the while, being a solid defender as well as playing 35 minutes per night.

Example: April 7 vs. the 76ers

Trent scored 30 points in Toronto's last meeting with Philadelphia, helping the Raptors win. A performance like this could win a game for a team that can be offensively challenged. This is expected to be an extremely competitive series.

Bontemps


While Jamal MurrayAnd Michael Porter Jr.were out of season, the Nuggets desperately needed an offensive spark during reigning MVP Nikola Jokic rested. It was their first round pick from VCU. Hyland scored 10.1 points per game and shot 36.6% from behind arc. However, Hyland rose to prominence in March with 14.3 points, 42.3 assists and 47.6% 3 point shooting.

Example: March 14, vs. the 76ers

Jokic vs. Joel Embiid? Hyland is a true X-factor. Take a look at the Nuggets win at Philadelphia to see what it looks like. Hyland had 21 points off the bench. However, he was so great in the fourth quarter that he overshadowed the MVP showdown between Jokic Embiid. Hyland made four 3-pointers, three of them in the middle section of the fourth, to help the Nuggets defeat the Sixers. Hyland is a Denver favorite, and his inspired game in Philadelphia was witnessed by Delaware firefighters as well as first responders. who helped save him from a house fire in 2018. —

— Ohm Youngmisuk


The Bulls have allowed the most 3-pointers per games in three of the four seasons prior, 2021-22. And if there is one Bulls player who can take advantage of that, it's Coby white, coming off the bench. White shot 38.5% from beyond his arc, a record for him. However, he was an inconsistent shooter in his first three NBA seasons. White could swing a series if he is hot at 3 or 4.

Example: Timberwolves vs. Timberwolves on February 11.

White experienced one of his best shooting periods in February. He shot 48.7% at 3 on seven attempts per contest. He was instrumental in helping the Bulls win against Timberwolves. He finished with 22 points on 8 of 12 shooting (6-of-10 at 3), and he also hit all four of the quarter's 3-point attempts.

Collier


Beasley was quietly fifth in NBA 3-pointers this year, breaking the Timberwolves franchise record of 220 treys. Beasley, like many other players who play behind the arc (75% percent of his shots were 3s), was hot and cold. He was able to score 40% in Minnesota wins and 35% for losses.

Case in point: Nov. 24 vs. Heat

When Patrick BeverleyBeasley took over after being left with an adductor strain during the first quarter. Beasley was able to score 29 points in 38 minutes on 9 of 19 shooting, a season record. Minnesota's Beasley was on the court for an impressive double-digit victory over Miami.

— Kevin Pelton


Brown played consistently on both ends of floor during the final two months of the season, scoring close to 15 points per contest in March and April. Brown has shown that he is capable of making 3-pointers on a consistent basis. Kevin DurantAnd Kyrie IrvingSome help is needed when they are being loaded on by teams. Brown was able to shoot 41.9% from beyond arc in March and has been open about how defenses aren't respecting his shot.

Example: Tuesday vs. Cavaliers

Brown scored 18 points and had 9 rebounds, 8 assists, and three steals during the play in win over Cleveland. Brown is confident he can post those kinds of numbers every night. Brown was also a defensive spark for a Nets side that struggled to score down the stretch.

— Friedell


Murphy's skill at shooting made him an attractive prospect for the No. The 17th pick in the draft last year. Since March 7, Murphy has been a key part of the Pelicans' rotation. He has made 43.8% (3-3 attempts) on those 3s. Murphy can score multiple points to give the Pelicans an extra boost if necessary.

Clippers vs. Friday: A case in point

You need only look at the Pelicans playoffs win to see how Murphy can change the outcome. In the 16th minute of the elimination round, Murphy played against the Clippers and made four 3-pointers. One was enough to give the Pels seven minutes late and complete their comeback.

— Andrew Lopez


Atlanta's new role will see Okongwu called upon to play a greater role than ever before. knee injury to starting center Clint Capela. John CollinsOkongwu will assume the starting role after Okongwu returned to play on Sunday against Heat after a monthlong absence. Okongwu had an average of 10.5 points and 7.3 rebounds in six games this season as a starter.

Casu in point: March 31 against the Cavaliers

Okongwu scored 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds against Cleveland in just 25 minutes. He is a great rim runner and fits in perfectly with Atlanta's plans. Trae YoungThe offense. Okongwu can also be a great help on the defensive side, with an average of 2.2 blocks per hour during the regular season.

— Lopez

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