NBA Playoffs: 10 best players this postseason after Round 1

Kevin Durant and James Harden, Brooklyn Nets. Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images
Kevin Durant and James Harden, Brooklyn Nets. Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images /
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NBA playoffs
NBA playoffs Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images /

NBA Playoffs: 10 best players – Just Missed the Cut

In alphabetical order, the five players who just missed the cut for the Top 10 performances in the first round.

Mike Conley, PG, Utah Jazz – While Donovan Mitchell scored more points, nearly every metric other than PPG supports Conley as the most impactful guard on the Jazz in the first round. His 8.6 assists per game are indicative of how he ran the offense like an orchestra conductor, hitting open shooters as a tough Memphis defense was helpless to slow them down.

Rudy Gobert, C, Utah Jazz – As Conley conducted the Jazz offense, Rudy Gobert conducted the team’s defense to smother the Memphis Grizzlies. He averaged a preposterous 3.2 blocks per game, with 17.4 points and 13 rebounds per game to go with it. The Jazz are able to deploy any combination of perimeter players around Gobert because of his ability to completely close off the paint.

Jrue Holiday, G, Milwaukee Bucks – The Milwaukee Bucks eviscerated the Miami Heat in a first-round sweep, with Giannis Antetokounmpo stonewalling Jimmy Butler and Khris Middleton hitting an overtime game-winner. Yet it was Jrue Holiday making the offense sing, setting up role players such as Bryn Forbes and Bobby Portis to tremendous success. He averaged 9.8 assists per game, and on the other end jammed up the works for the Heat offense, averaging 2.3 steals.

Ja Morant, PG, Memphis Grizzlies – Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies may have been outmatched against the league-leading Utah Jazz, but Morant showed why he and his teammates will likely be back in the playoffs for years to come. He dropped 30.2 points per game in his postseason debut, with 8.2 assists as he helped his fellow Grizzlies find their spots. His 47 points in Game 2 were tied for the third-highest total in the first round.

Jayson Tatum, F, Boston Celtics – Jayson Tatum was outmatched from the jump, trying to face the three-headed hydra of the Brooklyn Nets with Jaylen Brown injured and two other starters hobbled and eventually out themselves. Yet he did his best, as the former Duke Blue Devil averaged 30.6 points per game while contributing on the defensive end as best he could. His 50 points in Game 3 was the second-most of any player in the first round.