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The top five players who have outperformed expectations in the 2021 NBA Playoffs so far

New York Knicks' Derrick Rose v Atlanta Hawks' Trae Young - Game Three
New York Knicks' Derrick Rose v Atlanta Hawks' Trae Young - Game Three
Kunal Sethi
ANALYST

It's the first round of the 2021 NBA playoffs and several players have taken that postseason pressure well. Time and again we have seen some of the all-time great regular season performers crumble under the bright lights of the playoffs while some athletes embrace the big stage and outdo themselves. The Milwaukee Bucks are the first team in these playoffs to advance to the second round after they swept the Miami Heat. We saw some spectacular basketball from the men from Wisconsin in that series.

The three superstars in Brooklyn are blowing out their opponents while the Philadelphia 76ers are right on the tails of the Bucks to perhaps become the second team to advance to the conference semi-finals. Meanwhile, the West is tightly contested, as expected, with three series tied at 2-2.

The NBA playoffs are some of the best basketball games we will see. Each possession, timeout and second on the clock matter as teams fight to avoid elimination. Only the cream of the crop survives in the grueling postseason and this year we have some new entrants who have impressed us a lot. So without further ado, let's take a look at 5 NBA players who have outperformed expectations in the first round of the 2021 NBA playoffs so far.

#5 Bryn Forbes (Milwaukee Bucks)

Bryn Forbes with the Milwaukee Bucks
Bryn Forbes with the Milwaukee Bucks

Bryn Forbes of the Milwaukee Bucks has exceeded his role on the team. He comes off the bench and delivers to such an extent that coach Mike Budenholzer often ends up giving him more minutes. Forbes averaged 10.0 points per game in the regular season and is now averaging 15.0 points per game in the NBA playoffs. His numbers are up in most statistical categories as he has the green light to shoot more shots.

Bryn Forbes was a major contributor in the Milwaukee Bucks' sweep of the Heat. He dropped 22 points in two of the four games and sunk 6+ threes on both those occasions, shooting better than 50% from beyond the arc. The Bucks' Big 3 are Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Heat certainly didn't expect Forbes to come off the bench and rain down threes. The biggest takeaway from the first-round sweep was Forbes outscoring the Heat's Jimmy Butler 60-58 for the series.

#4 Ja Morant (Memphis Grizzlies)

Ja Morant with the Memphis Grizzlies
Ja Morant with the Memphis Grizzlies

Ja Morant, in his first-ever NBA playoffs appearance, has already put his name up against some of the all-time greats. He dropped 47 points in his second game against the Utah Jazz and became the fourth youngest player in NBA playoff history to score 40+ points. Morant is now averaging a whopping 33.7 points per game on 51% shooting from the floor while also dishing out 6.0 dimes per game. Nobody expected such incredible performances from him in his first ever NBA playoff series.

Although his team is losing, it certainly isn't because of him. The 8th-seeded Memphis Grizzlies are far outmatched by their heavy volume shooting from the Utah Jazz. However, at the age of 21, Ja Morant has led his team to the NBA playoffs whilst leading them in points and assists.

#3 Deandre Ayton (Phoenix Suns)

Deandre Ayton with the Phoenix Suns
Deandre Ayton with the Phoenix Suns

Phoenix Suns' Deandre Ayton has shown dominance like no other big man in this series against the LA Lakers. He averaged 14.4 points and 10.3 rebounds per game in the regular season, and in just his first playoff series, he is now averaging nearly 20 points and 13.5 rebounds per game. In four games against the LA Lakers, Ayton has outrebounded Anthony Davis in all four games and Andre Drummond in three out of the four games.

DeAndre Ayton holds the record for the most rebounds in their NBA playoff debut by a Suns player. He dominated veteran Anthony Davis on the offensive end, blowing by him for layups and grabbing offensive boards on top of his head. Ayton is shooting at a remarkable 81% from the field.

#2 Derrick Rose (New York Knicks)

Derrick Rose with the New York Knicks
Derrick Rose with the New York Knicks

The youngest MVP in NBA history, Derrick Rose, is back on the NBA playoff scene. He is performing so well that coach Tom Thibodeau has upgraded him from a bench role to a starter one. Rose leads the New York Knicks in scoring in the NBA playoffs. He dropped 30 points in Game 3 and is averaging 22.8 points per game for the series so far on an astonishing 50/50/100 shooting split.

Nobody expected Rose to play the minutes he is playing at the level he is playing. Ever since his ACL injury, Derrick Rose has been a shell of himself, however, he has reinvented himself. Rose averaged 15 points per game in the regular season and is now up to 22.8, which is the highest he has averaged in an NBA playoff series since 2011.

#1 Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks)

Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks
Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks

As TNT commentator Spero Dedes said, Trae Young is sprinkling his stardust on the NBA playoff scene. In his first-ever NBA playoff series, the young, confident and cocky Young has hit a game-winner on the road, dropped 30-point consecutive games and dished out 14 dimes. Ten of his 14 Game 3 assists came in the first half itself.

Trae Young averaged 25.3 points per game in the regular season and is now averaging a remarkable 27.5 points and 10.0 assists per game on 47/36/95 shooting splits so far in the NBA playoffs. He is one of the youngest players to hit a playoff game-winner and is quickly making a name for himself as one of the top point guards in the league.

Also Read: When does the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs start?


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Edited by Arnav Kholkar
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