Biggest winners and losers from 2021 NBA Playoffs


Biggest losers from 2021 NBA Playoffs

#3 Portland Trail Blazers

The Portland Trail Blazers have finished the season with multiple stars rumored to be on the verge of leaving. Damian Lillard carried the Trail Blazers to the Playoffs after an injury-ravaged season that ended at the hands of Nikola Jokic’s Denver Nuggets.

Denver Nuggets v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Four
Denver Nuggets v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Four

CJ McCollum, who will argue that he is still the second-best player on the roster, looks set to leave while Damian Lillard has himself been involved in a lengthy transfer saga. The Trail Blazers struggled on perimeter defense all season with Charles Barkley famously betting $100k that they will qualify for the Finals. Regardless, the coming offseason is expected to bring about large-scale changes to the roster.

#2 James Harden

James Harden and the Brooklyn Nets both had anti-climactic seasons. The Nets were the favorites for the NBA championship, but injuries to Irving and Harden meant that they were knocked out in an entertaining seven-game series against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Boston Celtics v Brooklyn Nets - Game Five
Boston Celtics v Brooklyn Nets - Game Five

Harden in particular was in the MVP conversation throughout the first half of the season, but a late regular-season injury meant the Nets lost him when they needed him the most. He played the last three games of the series and went 11 out of 39 from the field as the Nets were knocked out despite some commanding Kevin Durant displays. Regardless, Harden will be licking his wounds and should make a strong return next season.

#1 Ben Simmons

There is little doubt that Ben Simmons is the biggest loser to emerge from the 2021 NBA Playoffs. The 2018 rookie of the year was the first overall pick of the 2016 NBA draft. However, his lack of shooting came under scrutiny all through the season and was especially highlighted during the Playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks that the 76ers ended up losing despite having the better team on paper.

The result has been that Ben Simmons is one of the most likely stars to change teams in the coming offseason, with the 76ers’ fans finally appearing to lose patience. The Philadelphia 76ers have multiple stars, with Joel Embiid being an MVP favorite for much of the season. Regardless, Ben Simmons does not look like he will return to play for the Philadelphia 76ers next season.

Edited by Arnav Kholkar
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