NBA Playoffs 2013: Under-the-Radar Players to Watch in 1st Round

Nick JoosContributor IIIApril 19, 2013

"Birdman" will be important down low for the Miami Heat.
"Birdman" will be important down low for the Miami Heat.Marc Serota/Getty Images

Do you remember Leon Powe? How about Jerome James? OK, maybe Robert Horry? All three made their presence felt in the playoffs when no one expected it. The under-the-radar types are the difference between a team winning a championship and going home empty-handed. 

Despite the eye-popping statistics of stars like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Kevin Durant, basketball is a team sport, and without a full supporting cast, those players would not be successful.

With that being said, many teams have a secret weapon. Odds are, there will be a Derek Fisher-like player to emerge in the playoffs and will his team to a series victory. Here are a few to look out for.


Chris Andersen, Miami Heat

When "Birdman" played for the Denver Nuggets in the 2011 playoffs, he was a force on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. While his statistics don't pop off the page, his game sure does.

The tattoo-covered, physical post player exhibits a tenacity unmatched by most players in the NBA and that energy will prove to be valuable for the Heat—especially against the Bucks' rising star, Larry Sanders.


Jordan Crawford, Boston Celtics

Considered by many as a team without an identity, the Celtics played their way into the playoffs with great defense and incredible team chemistry. Boston is a team with no real star in his prime, relying on role players to get the job done.

Jordan Crawford is one of those role players. The Celtics' most physical player is not a great shooter, but a ferocious slasher who will drive to the rim. If the Celtics have a hope of beating the sharp-shooting Knicks, players like Crawford will have to step up.


Evan Fournier, Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets' French rookie has only played in 38 games and is flying way under the radar. However, he may not be for long. He is a solid all-around player who resembles the 76ers' Evan Turner, a valuable piece for Philadelphia this season.

Like Turner, he won't do one thing exceptionally well, but many things adequately. This is Ty Lawson's team, but if it wants to defeat an offensively talented and pesky Golden State Warriors squad, Fournier might be the one to make it happen.


Ed Davis, Memphis Grizzlies

Acquired in the trade that sent Memphis' leading scorer, Rudy Gay, to Toronto, Ed Davis has yet to live up to expectations.

Of course, he hasn't exactly received the best playing time with Memphis, logging a mere 15 minutes per game. But the talent is there.

With Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph bound to receive double-teams down low against the Clippers in the first round, another post player will need to step up. It's Davis' calling.

Known primarily as a defensive player, Davis will be asked to not only guard the athletic Blake Griffin (who will aim to get Gasol and Randolph in foul trouble), but score on him as well. 

If Davis does not show up, especially if the Grizzlies' other big men get into foul trouble, Memphis may be in for a short series.