The 2021 NBA playoffs is drawing to a close, with only three of the 16 teams that made it to the postseason left in the fray. The Phoenix Suns have already clinched their NBA Finals slot and are now waiting for their fellow finalists from the Eastern Conference.
In the ongoing playoffs, there have been a lot of disappointing performances from superstars. But there have also been a few intriguing revelations in the 2021 NBA playoffs so far.
The 2021 playoffs have turned out to be one for the underdogs, as all the favorites coming into the playoffs have been eliminated.
While a few superstars have been incredible and rallied their teams to victories this postseason, a few performers have flown under the radar. One such example would be Chris Paul, who has been exceptional so far in the 2021 postseason. But there are several other contributors in the Phoenix Suns' team who are not getting due appreciation for their exploits.
On that note, here are the five most underappreciated players in the 2021 NBA playoffs thus far.
#5 Blake Griffin
Blake Griffin put in a decent shift for the Brooklyn Nets but did not receive much attention because of the team's power trio.
The discussion was mostly about Kevin Durant's record-breaking performance or what James Harden would have done if he was fit. In the midst of that, Griffin's performances in the 2021 NBA playoffs largely took a backseat.
Griffin re-ignited his penchant for dunks and was not afraid to attempt one whenever he had the chance to. He was also a menace in defense, as he made some key blocks.
Perhaps the most noteworthy of all his performances was his defense of Giannis Antetokounmpo in the 2021 NBA Playoffs Western Conference semi-finals. Although he knocked down the occasional 3-point shot, his main duty was limiting Antetokounmpo in the paint.
His efforts forced the Greek Freak to take fadeaway jumpers or settle for 3-point shots. On nights when he successfully limited Antetokounmpo's production, the Nets stood a better chance of winning.
#4 Terance Mann
Terance Mann was selected by the LA Clippers as the 48th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. He was used sparingly in the 2021 NBA playoffs, and not much was expected from the forward.
However, when called upon to fill in for the 2-time NBA champion, Kawhi Leonard, Mann exploded to lead the Clippers to their first conference final in franchise history.
He dominated the game with 39 points and 15-of-21 shooting from the field. The youngster did not place a foot wrong in the game, as he converted all of his free throws and went 7 of 10 from downtown.
#3 Reggie Jackson
The LA Clippers' run in the 2021 NBA playoffs was very eventful. They managed to pull off inspiring comebacks but fell short in the conference finals. Reggie Jackson was at the heart of those comebacks, combining aggressive offense with intense defense to devastating effect.
Although much of the credit will go to Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, who have both been undoubtedly phenomenal, Jackson also played a crucial role in the Clippers' deep playoff run. He finished as the third-highest scorer, behind Leonard and George.
Jackson ended the 2021 NBA playoffs with an average of 17.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists. It is arguably the best run he has had in the postseason during his 12-year NBA career.
#2 Kevin Huerter
It wouldn't be fair to say that the Atlanta Hawks are still alive against the Milwaukee Bucks without acknowledging the efforts of Kevin Huerter. On nights when Trae Young has not been as productive, the young lad has stepped up to help his team.
Huerter has started only nine of the Atlanta Hawks' 17 games in the ongoing 2021 NBA playoffs. But he has been almost as effective as some of the regular starters in the team. In the absence of De'Andre Hunter, Huerter was given more responsibility in the team.
Although trailing 2-3 in the series 2-3 against the Bucks, the Atlanta Hawks cannot be ruled out just yet. With a player like Huerter on the court, the Hawks will fancy their chances of overhauling the deficit to reach the NBA Finals.
#1 Deandre Ayton
The Phoenix Suns have cruised through the 2021 NBA playoffs, with Monty Williams leading the charge. Chris Paul was brought in during the 2020 off-season to lead the young team and has done a remarkable job.
The Phoenix Suns' success is more often attributed to the heroics of Paul and Devin Booker. While both players deserve to be recognized for their efforts, it should not come at the expense of Deandre Ayton, who also needs to be appreciated.
Ayton took on Anthony Davis in the 2021 NBA playoffs first round and successfully restricted him in the paint while getting on the scoreboard at the other end.
Ayton did the same with Nikola Jokic and dominated Ivan Zubac in the Conference finals. He was also spotted communicating in defense and being as vocal as the veteran guard would have been.
Deandre Ayton is averaging 16.2 points and 11.8 rebounds in his debut NBA playoffs season. He is an invaluable member of the Phoenix Suns team, who are prepping for their NBA Finals bout.