Come playoff time, having great role players becomes exponentially more important. We see it every year.
Just look at last season’s NBA Finals. In terms of production, the stars for the Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder weren’t all that different. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for 58 points, nine assists and 12 rebounds per game, whereas LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combined for 51 points, 12 assists and 16 rebounds.
Miami has an advantage, but not a particularly significant one.
So why did the Heat win the series 4-1? Their role players stepped up. Mario Chalmers burned Durant for 25 points in Game 4, Shane Battier shot almost 60 percent from the three-point line for the series, and Mike Miller knocked down seven shots from deep in Game 5. It takes nine or 10 guys to make a real playoff run. It always has.
This year, there’s at least one role player on each potential playoff team who holds particular sway over how their team performs in the postseason. Some of them need to step up their game and some need to keep doing exactly what they’re doing.
But each of them will go a long way in determining their team’s postseason success.
All stats accurate as of 4/4/2013