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NBA Playoffs Round 1: Top 25 Performances

The NBA Playoffs Round 1 is over, and we saw some performances for the history books. The Bucks, Sixers, and Nets showed why they’re the top contenders out east, while three of the four Western Conference series went to at least Game 6, including an All-Time Game 7 duel between Kawhi Leonard and Luka Doncic. And let’s not forget the continued dominance of the Utah Jazz or the surprising Gentlemen’s Sweep the Hawks handed the young Knicks.

With Round 2 firmly underway, we’ve had enough time to look over the individual performances from Round 1, including some players on an All-Time great pace.

Honorable Mentions

Anthony Davis | Russell Westbrook | Dillon Brooks | Daniel Gafford | Michael Porter Jr | Mikal Bridges

NBA Playoffs Round 1: 25-21

25. Deandre Ayton | 15.8 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 0.7 BPG, 79.6% FG

Ayton averaged a double-double in his first-ever playoff series and did so against one of the deepest frontcourts in recent memory consisting of Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond, Montrezl Harrell, and Marc Gasol. His incredible efficiency played a huge role in helping Phoenix advance past the NBA Playoffs Round 1.

24. Bogdan Bogdanovic | 14.4 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 3.8 APG, 1.4 SPG

Despite dealing with injuries for much of the regular season, Bogdanovic became the perfect second fiddle to Trae Young’s impressive first-round performance. While shooting over 33% from distance, Bogdanovic led the team in steals per game and was also second on the team in points, rebounds, and assists per game through their NBA Playoffs Round 1 victory.

23. Jrue Holiday | 15.3 PPG, 9.8 APG, 6.8 RPG, 2.3 SPG

Playing alongside the reigning league MVP, Holiday led the Bucks in APG and SPG by a wide margin while also shooting 48% from the field and contributing nearly seven rebounds per game from the guard position. The 30-year-old point guard may have found his new forever-home in Milwaukee if they can manage to find success against Brooklyn in Round 2.

22. Mike Conley | 17.4 PPG, 8.6 APG, 54.8% 3P, 100% FT

Conley was only fourth on the team in scoring this round, but make no mistake about his impact and efficiency. The veteran point guard averaged 8.6 APG to go along with 54.8% shooting from long range and an absurd 100% from the FT line across 29.9 MPG in the Jazz’s 5-game series.

21. Chris Paul | 9.2 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 7.7 APG, 1.0 SPG

Every single team Chris Paul has been a part of has gotten better after his arrival. After helping the Suns to the second seed out West, Paul then led his troops into battle against the title-favorite Lakers, leading them in APG with 7.7 through 6 games. His scoring did not live up to usual expectations, but it came in large part due to an early shoulder injury. Despite the pain and adversity, Paul aided his team in every way he was able to, earning himself a date with the 3-Seed Denver Nuggets.

NBA Playoffs Round 1: 20-16

20. Bradley Beal | 30.0 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 4.2 APG, 0.8 SPG

A surprise to none, Beal led the Wizards in scoring by a wide margin in the first round. Slightly surprising, however, was his lack of efficiency after battling a lingering injury. Beal shot only 21.9% from 3-point range and 45.5 % overall. His outrageous 30 PPG wasn’t enough to contend with the 1-Seed 76ers in the NBA Playoffs Round 1.

19. Ja Morant | 30.2 PPG, 8.2 APG, 4.8 RPG, 48.7% FG

Averaging 30 and 8 is eye-popping by any standards, especially for a 21-year-old point guard making his first playoff appearance. The young floor general already looks to be well on his way to superstardom, and his awe-inspiring performance in the NBA Playoffs Round 1 only helped his case. The young Grizzlies, led by Morant, will be a force to be reckoned with soon.

18. Ben Simmons | 14.8 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 9.2 APG, 1.2 SPG

Simmons was less than one assist per game shy of averaging a triple-double in the Sixers’ NBA Playoffs Round 1 victory. While Joel Embiid has stepped forward as the undisputed alpha male of this team, the Sixers don’t achieve their current success without the all-around production from Simmons. However, Philly faithful hope for improvement in his FT shooting (35.7%) in the second round against Atlanta.

17. Rudy Gobert | 17.4 PPG, 13.0 RPG, 3.2 BPG, 77.8% FG

Rudy “The Stifle Tower” Gobert continues to live up to his nickname. He averaged an astounding 3.2 BPG, leading the playoffs in BPG after Round 1. This goes without mentioning the 7’1 big man’s ability to finish plays around the rim. Despite not having a polished post-game, Gobert thrives in his role surrounded by shooters and distributors, having helped lead the Jazz to the top overall seed out West this season. This, along with his stellar rebounding, was evident in Round 1 thanks to his easy double-double average of 17 & 13.

16. Donovan Mitchell | 28.5 PPG, 5.8 APG, 1.3 SPG, 40.0% 3P

The Jazz have an incredibly well-rounded team, as was evident by their six double-digit scorers through NBA Playoffs Round 1. However, Mitchell rises high as the team’s undisputed leader. His 28.5 PPG is nearly 10 PPG more than the second closest Jazz player, and only Conley averaged more assists. Mitchell leads his scorching hot Jazz squad into a highly-anticipated series against the LA Clippers.

NBA Playoffs Round 1: 15-11

15. Kyrie Irving | 24.8 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 2.8 APG, 38.9% 3P

It’s wild to think that a player averaging basically 25-6-3 was no the best player on his team for a playoff series. In fact, Kyrie wasn’t even the second-best player, but that doesn’t take away from his impressive performance. Shooting 38.9% from distance in a playoff series is a feat achieved by few, and he added just under 25 PPG across 36.9 MPG in the Nets’ 5-game series victory over Kyrie’s former squad, the Boston Celtics.

14. Tobias Harris | 25.0 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 50.5% FG

Harris has quietly become a vital cog in the well-oiled machine that is the 1-Seed 76ers. Embiid is the clear alpha dog, and Simmons provides the ball-handling and defense, but Harris actually led the Sixers in scoring their NB Playoff Round 1 victory. He averaged a double-double and out-did Embiid in both points and rebounds per contest. Granted, there’s a reason for Embiid’s lowered stats that we’ll get to soon, but give credit where credit is due to Tobias Harris.

13. Devin Booker | 29.7 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 5.0 APG, 42.9% 3P

For the first time in 30 years, the 7-Seed Lakers were a favorite over the 2-Seed Suns… Except someone forgot to tell Devin Booker that. The 24-year-old guard put on a show as he averaged nearly 30 PPG on his way to eliminating LeBron James and his troops in the first round for the first time in The King’s career. Despite being a 2-Seed, Booker was forced to rise to the occasion and prove the doubters wrong, helping his Suns advance to the second round in his first career playoff appearance.

12. LeBron James | 23.3 PPG, 8.0 APG, 7.2 RPG, 1.5 SPG

The King has fallen. At least, this year he has. The Lakers’ postseason collapse cannot be fully placed on James’s shoulders. Anthony Davis was bothered by injury through most of the series, and James still managed to average 23-8-7 in 37.3 MPG. It should also be noted that Marc Gasol was the only Laker who shot better from 3-point range (63.6%) than James (37.5%) throughout the entire series. This isn’t meant to make excuses for James or the Lakers, but rather to show that The King’s individual performance was not far off from his typical production.

11. Paul George | 23.6 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 5.7 APG, 0.9 SPG

In a wild series in which the road team won each of the first six games, Paul George and the Clippers ultimately took Game 7 on their home court. Through their NBA Playoffs Round 1 victory, George actually led the Clippers in APG from a wing position while also averaging nearly 24 points and 9 rebounds per game, putting his versatility on full display. He struggled to meet his season shooting averages, but George still turned in a solid performance to help the Clippers climb out of two different series deficits to the Dallas Mavericks.

NBA Playoffs Round 1: 10-1

10. Giannis Antetokounmpo | 23.5 PPG, 15.0 RPG, 7.8 APG, 1.8 SPG

The reigning MVP turned in another stellar regular season performance, narrowly missing out on the MVP Finalist conversation. Antetokounmpo’s success continued into the first round as he put up staggering all-around numbers including 15 RPG and nearly 2 SPG. He shot incredibly poorly from behind the 3-point line (6.3 %), but still managed to hit 45% of his FGs overall on his way to a series sweep of the Miami Heat.

9. Trae Young | 29.2 PPG, 9.8 APG, 91.9% FT, 34.1% 3P

Young has quickly become Madison Square Garden’s newest villain. The 22-year-old guard put on an absolute show in front of the New York crowd during his first-ever playoff appearance, winning two of his three games at the historic arena. Young averaged a near double-double with 29.2 PPG and 9.8 APG. He missed only three of his 37 free throw attempts and managed to shoot upwards of 34% from behind the arc. Quite the debut for the young star.

8. Joel Embiid | 24.0 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 46.2% 3P

Embiid missed Game 5 of the Sixers’ NBA Playoffs Round 1 victory, and only played 23.8 MPG in the four games he did appear in. It didn’t matter. Embiid lit up the Wizard’s big men like it was an open gym against non-pros. He shot 63.5% overall including 46.2% from distance and 88.9% from the charity stripe, an unreal showing of efficiency and dominance. His total stats are not eye-popping by Embiid’s standards, but make no mistake, this first-round performance was one to applaud.

7. Jayson Tatum | 30.6 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 4.6 APG, 1.6 BPG

Facing one of the most intimidating offensive juggernauts the league has ever seen in the Brooklyn Nets, Tatum did not back away from the challenge. No, he rose to the occasion, averaging over 30 PPG and just under 6 RPG and 5 APG. This includes an all-time great playoff performance in which Tatum nearly single-handedly lifted the Celtics over the Nets with a 50-point performance in Game 3 to avoid being swept. Quite frankly, this performance might land Tatum in our Top 5 if it included more than one victory in five games.

6. Nikola Jokic | 33.0 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 52.8% FG, 42.9% 3P

Jokic, the newly-named NBA MVP, picked up right where he left off in the NBA Playoffs Round 1, averaging 33.0 PPG, double-digit rebounds (10.5), and trailing only the two PG’s on his roster in APG with 4.5. His shooting splits of .528 – .429 – .917 are, for a lack of a better word, ridiculous. This type of efficiency would have landed Jokic comfortably in the elusive 50-40-90 club had he sustained it for a full season.

5. James Harden | 27.8 PPG, 10.6 APG, 7.2 RPG, 2.0 SPG

Harden, as crazy as this might sound, has been the unsung hero for the Brooklyn Nets this season. Despite all of the firepower on the roster, Harden continues to have the ball in his hands more often than not. He’s among the best isolation scorers of all time, but he’s also continuing to prove his willingness and IQ when it comes to finding open teammates, as is evident by his nearly 28 PPG and 11 APG averages through the Nets’ NBA Playoffs Round 1 victory.

This goes without even mentioning the new club Harden just invented for himself: the 55-45-90 club. The Nets guard shot 55.6% FG, 47.5% 3P, and 90.9% FT during Brooklyn’s five first-round games.

4. Damian Lillard | 34.3 PPG, 10.2 APG, 44.9% 3P, 46.3% FG

Much like Tatum a few positions below, Lillard did all he could to will his team to victory including a monstrous 55-point outburst in an eventual double-overtime loss. Throughout the series, Lillard averaged upwards of 34 PPG and 10 APG on 41.3 minutes per night in the Blazers’ 6-game NBA Playoffs Round 1 series loss to the Nuggets.

Regardless of the final outcome, it’s hard to deny the level of talent and stardom that this 30-year-old point guard puts on display night after night.

3. Luka Doncic | 35.7 PPG, 10.3 APG, 7.9 RPG, 40.8% 3P

The highest-rated player that did not advance to the second round, Doncic gave the star-studded Clippers everything they could handle in the NBA Playoffs Round 1. In fact, the only reason he is not higher on this list is that his performance did not end in a series win. He averaged over 35 PPG and 10 APG while taking a potential championship-contending team to a Game 7. Doncic picked apart the Clippers’ usually stellar defense game after game, scoring 39+ points in four of the seven games.

It’s also worth noting that Luka is the only Maverick listed in our 2021 NBA Playoffs Round 1 Top 25, which helps to show just how much of a load he was attempting to carry.

2. Kevin Durant | 32.6 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 2.2 BPG, 1.4 SPG

Durant is one of the greatest scorers of all time, plain and simple. However, no one was quite sure what to expect from the 32-year-old forward a year removed from an Achilles injury, one of the most devastating injuries in basketball. I’m not sure many expected this. Durant is the leading scorer among players advancing to the second round with 32.6 PPG to go along with 7.4 RPG. He also put up shooting splits of .546 – .500 – .915 from FG, 3PT, FT respectively, narrowly missing out on Harden’s new 55-45-90 club, but perhaps creating his own 50-50-90 club.

Along with absurd efficiency and league-leading scoring, Durant is once again showing his capabilities as a defender. While perhaps not the most talented 1-on-1 defender in the league, Durant’s length and IQ have once again been put on full display as he alters shots and prowls passing lanes. It’s allowed him to average 2.2 BPG and 1.4 SPG in the Nets’ NBA Playoffs Round 1 victory.

1. Kawhi Leonard | 32.1 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 4.6 APG, 2.3 SPG, 61.2% FG

Kawhi “The Claw” Leonard has been a man possessed ever since the Clippers lost Game 1 on their home court. Despite still losing Game 2, Leonard put up an other-worldly 41 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals while shooting 66.7% FG, 57.1% 3P, and 90.0% FT across nearly 41 minutes of action.

Once the Clippers fell behind 3-2 in Game 5, again on their home court, Leonard once again stepped up in the moment. He took over the 4th quarter of Game 6, scoring nearly every single one of the Clippers’ points late in the game on his way to a 45-point, 6-rebound, 3-assist, 2-steal performance, not to mention his insane efficiency of 72% FG, 56% 3P, and 100% FT. This game will go down as one of the all-time great elimination game performances, right along with his nearly-as-stellar Game 7 stat line of 28-10-9-4-1 on 66.7% FG, 33.3% 3P, and 100% FT to help the Clippers advance to Round 2.

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