The NBA playoffs begin in earnest on Saturday afternoon and there are plenty of players ready to make their mark in the postseason. It’s hard to find which players are going to do something special, yet we did our best to bring you 16 players to watch in the first round.
Some of the players are stars of the team, while others need to play their role to the fullest. Even more intriguing to watching the stars in the first round, is watching the emergence of young players in their first NBA playoff action.
Three young point guards are expected to play big roles in this year’s postseason. How they handle the pressure and adversity will be fun to watch. Last year, Stephen Curry had a coming out party, so the young guards have a lot of shoes to fill.
Injuries also played a part in last year’s postseason and they certainly will take a toll this season. Already, Andrew Bogut is lost for the Golden State Warriors. Their lack of size against the Clippers could end their season swiftly.
Let's see the "Top 16" players to see in the NBA first round.
1. Stephen Curry- Golden State Warriors
When one half of the “Splash Brothers” gets going, it’s a sight to see. Stephen Curry has to be the best player on the floor throughout the first round if the Warriors pull off the upset. He averaged 24 points and 8 assists during the regular season.
2. Lebron James- Miami Heat
The Chosen one has the Heat as the team to beat in the Eastern Conference. It will be interesting to see his activity level to start the series verse the Charlotte Bobcats. He might even go for a cool 60
3. Dirk Nowitski- Dallas Mavericks
Dirk couldn’t keep his Mavs out of the 8th spot, so they face off with the San Antonio Spurs in the first round. It’s time you enjoy Dirk as he tries for the monumental, yet feasible upset.
4. Kevin Durant- OKC Thunder
Kevin Durant averaged an astonishing 32 points per game this season and is the likely MVP. He returns to the playoffs against the Memphis Grizzlies. The same team that stifled his progress last season.
5. Russell Westbrook- OKC Thunder
The health of Russell Westbrook is pivotal to the Thunder returning to the NBA Finals. Without his explosiveness, OKC struggled last year. Russell averaged close to 22 points and 7 assists per game.
6. Blake Griffin- LA Clippers
It’s time for Blake to have a memorable postseason run. Griffin proved to be the go to guy during Chris Paul’s absence, but he has to be even better in the playoffs. How many Dunks with Griffin get?
7. Kemba Walker- Charlotte Bobcats
This is Kemba’s first chance to perform in the postseason. He might be ready to explode on the playoff scene. The Bobcats are heavy underdogs, so we’ll see how clutch play factors during the first round.
8. John Wall- Washington Wizards
Wall is a blur in the open court and he must play that way in the playoffs. He’s also in his first ever postseason. John Wall averaged 19.3 points and 8.8 assists during the season.
9. Damian Lilliard- Portland Trailblazers
Damian Lilliard had a tremendous second season in the NBA. He led the Blazers to the 5th seed and he’ll have his hands full against Houston. Lilliard is a 40% shooter from 3-point range.
10. Roy Hibbert- Indiana Pacers
Which Roy Hibbert will we see in the playoffs? He’s been awful to end the season, but he should be ready for a fresh start. Hibbert must have a defensive presence in the first round against Atlanta.
11. Zach Randolph- Memphis Grizzlies
Zach Randolph averaged a solid double-double and he was even more impressive down the stretch. He helped lead Memphis to a win over OKC last season. Although, they have the seventh seed, this could be a lengthy series.
12. James Harden- Houston Rockets
The Rockets are a sleeper to reach the NBA finals. If that’s the case, James Harden must have a brilliant first round series. He poured in over 25 per game this season. Fear the Beard
13. DeMar DeRozan- Toronto Raptors
DeMar DeRozan has quietly dominated this season. The Raptors don’t have much playoff experience, so their stars have to play well in order to beat the Nets. Even as the 3rd seed, Toronto isn’t receiving much love. DeRozan averaged 22.7 points, 4 assists and 4.3 rebounds.
14. Tony Parker- San Antonio Spurs
It’s going to be fun watching the Spurs play, so it was hard to choose one of the players to keep an eye on. Let’s see how Tony Parker glides through the defenses in the first round. He averaged just under 17 points per game. Will his scoring increase in the playoffs?
15. Al Jefferson- Charlotte Bobcats
Al Jefferson averaged a double-double and shot 50% from the field this season. He needs to be the dominant low post scorer in every game verse the Heat.
16. Paul George- Indiana Pacers
Did we anoint Paul George as an elite ball player too early? We’ll find out soon enough. George has to have a monster first round and have the Pacers advance to the second round. George averaged 21.7 points and 6.8 this season.