They’re finally here. We’ve finally reached the playoffs, the moment when big players become stars and where role players become big players, the time when all the sacrifice and hard work finally pays off.
It’s 'win or go home' time and everybody knows it, as a hot streak can take you the distance but a couple of breakdowns might as well be the same to packing your bags and prepare early for the upcoming campaign.
Obviously, we expect superstars to take over most of the game and prove their worth, but we’re used to see some role players peak a lot during playoff time. Today, we’re going to let you know about the top 10 role players that could have a big time in this year’s playoffs.
10. Gerald Green
Obviously, the Houston Rockets are James Harden and Chris Paul’s team, but their depth is what’s going to make a difference during the playoffs if they don’t want to choke again and make it to the NBA Finals.
Gerald Green has never been much of a consistent player, but he’s always been able to get hot on the blink of an eye with his streaky shooting from beyond the arc and his explosiveness while attacking the lane. If they find a way to get him going, he might as well be their most important piece off the bench.
9. CJ Miles
For years, the Toronto Raptors have lacked a true threat from beyond the arc, and CJ Miles has finally provided them with a true scorer from three-point territory, even though he’s not starting for the team right now.
Toronto’s second unit has been the best in the NBA for a long shot and it’s mostly thanks to Miles and his lights outstroke from deep, and he’s going to have a huge role on offense with Lowry and DeRozan getting a breather.
8. Jordan Clarkson
Jordan Clarkson didn’t have much chance to prove his worth with the Los Angeles Lakers as he was always coming off the bench, but when he was featured as the team’s go-to-guy on the offensive end of the floor, he proved that he’s a hell of a scorer from all over the hardwood.
With LeBron James handling most playmaking duties, Clarkson could have a huge role off the ball as a deep from three-point territory, while he can also run the strings of the offense in the few minutes James has to rest.
7. Jabari Parker
Jabari Parker has a lot to prove, considering he’s been forced to be dressed in street clothes for most of his young NBA career due to very serious injuries, and now will be the perfect time to demonstrate that he was worthy of the 2nd overall pick not so long ago.
Parker’s finally healthy and he’s looked like a stud for the young Bucks all year long, and with his length and ability to play both forward spots and spread the floor, he’s going to have a major offensive role off the bench for a young team trying to make a stride in the postseason.
6. Lance Stephenson
Lance Stephenson is finally back in the playoffs with the Indiana Pacers, the only team where he has looked like a guy capable of making a huge contribution in both ends of the hardwood, even if he’s coming off the bench.
When he’s locked in, “Born Ready” is a very crafty defender, as well as quite a versatile player that can either run the point or play in the wings, rebound, create opportunities for his opponents and be a streaky shooter.
5. Tony Parker
Tony Parker seems kind of washed out at this point of his career, but the aging veteran has always peaked during playoff time and now that he’s fully healthy and well rested, he may be on for a huge role off the bench during this year’s playoffs.
Dejounte Murray has been outstanding all year long, especially in the defensive end, but Parker’s ability to create his own shot and make everybody around him better is going to come really handy when it matters the most.
4. Marco Belinelli
Marco Belinelli might as well be the Philadelphia 76er’s X Factor off the bench, as he’s been shooting lights out ever since agreeing to a buyout with the Hawks, being a major responsibility for Philly’s hot end of the season.
Belinelli has already proven that he can be a consistent and reliable scoring choice off the bench, and considering Philadelphia doesn’t feature many three-point shooters, he’s going to be a key element in their playoff run.
3. Nikola Mirotic
Following DeMarcus Cousins’ season-ending injury, Nikola Mirotic was Alvin Gentry’s bet for another scorer next to Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday, and it has definitely paid off so far, especially over the last couple of matchups.
After averaging 12.4 points and 7.4 rebounds on shooting splits of 38/29/76, Mirotic shaved his beard and peaked to end the season, posting averages of 27 points, 11.2 boards and shooting splits of 53/50/100, and it’s quite important to finish the year strong and find a rhythm in the playoffs.
2. Dwyane Wade
The Flash is back home and even though he’s not having a good year, he’s the most playoff proven player in the Heat roster, a guy everybody can trust and that already knows Erik Spoelstra’s system like the back of his hand.
Wade is the Heat’s greatest player ever and he’s proven that he can still ball lights out when the game’s on the line. Also, with this one possibly being his last season as a pro, he’s definitely going to leave it all in the hardwood.
1. Terry Rozier
With Kyrie Irving out for the remainder of the season, nobody’s giving much credit to the Boston Celtics, and they’re no longer considered to be a threat to win it all, but Terry Rozier might as well be the guy that’s able to take them the distance with Uncle Drew in the shelf.
Rozier has proven that he’s starting point guard material, even recording a triple-double on his very first start as a professional. Obviously, he’s no Kyrie, but with the Celtics top-tier defense and how well they share the rock, he might surprise a lot of people in the postseason.