NBA Playoffs 2019: 5 Best players so far before the NBA Finals
Another summer of playoff exhilaration and heartbreaks has almost passed us by, leaving us with two Conference champions. The Raptors have made it through one of the toughest Eastern Conference playoff brackets in recent memory, battling past the Magic in 5 games, the Sixers in 7 and the Bucks in 6.
The defending champions have, meanwhile, continued their dominant run in the Western Conference playoffs to make it to a 5th straight Finals. Notwithstanding injury to their top scorer in the middle of what was slated to be their toughest series, they have made light work of their opponents without going to 7 games once in 3 rounds.
The postseason is where legends are made and legacies forged, which is why the best performers on this stage go down in hoops memory. The 2019 NBA Playoffs have been the stage for some historic performances by emerging and established stars alike, serving up a wonderful recipe for TV despite the looming absence of the predominant superstar of the NBA universe in LeBron James.
Let's take a look at the 5 best performers in the playoffs so far:
#5 Nikola Jokic
I never thought it'd come to this in my wildest imaginations 5 years ago, but when watching the Nuggets battle the Spurs, I had to admit it - the best passer in the NBA is a doughy 7-footer who looks like he always has a severe head cold. The best part of this for all of us fat folks cheering from our couches is that we're going to have to live with that for the next decade.
Jokic's play defies conventional basketball wisdom as much as he stands out in skill terms. A true center by size, it would be no hyperbole to call him the greatest passer at his position - EVER! Through the playoffs in 2019, the 24-year-old put up averages of 25.1 points (7th in the playoffs), 13.0 rebounds and 8.4 assists (3rd) per game, while shooting 50.6% from the field, 39.3% from 3-point range and 84.6% on free throws.
Jokic singlehandedly led the Nuggets to several hard-fought wins in both rounds against experienced playoff opponents in the Blazers and the Spurs. One can only imagine that he'll be even better in the future as he figures out his defensive identity and the franchise develops talent around him.