The Best Player Remaining at Every Position in 2013 NBA Conference Finals

Jimmy Spencer@JimmySpencerNBANBA Lead WriterMay 21, 2013

The Best Player Remaining at Every Position in 2013 NBA Conference Finals

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    As the field of the 2013 NBA playoffs is once again cut in half, the decision to name the most elite players remaining at each position becomes more contentious.

    Through two rounds of play and one month's time, the individual postseason resumes have become more telling.

    Because they're still playing into the conference finals, most of these guys have contributed to their team's success—though that's not the universal case.

    There's incredible talent leading each spot on the floor, as new names are pushing harder against those been-here-before veterans.

    Here's your starting All-Star team from the remaining postseason teams.

Point Guard: Tony Parker

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    1. Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs

    Tony Parker will eventually earn the respect he deserves—whether he cares or not.

    Earlier this month, in the media conference following Game 3 against the Golden State Warriors, I asked the San Antonio Spurs point guard what he thought about the emerging stardom of Stephen Curry; it must have fired him up as a competitor, right?

    Parker didn't blink, perhaps because he's a keen fibber with public relations sense, or he's a guy who's simply driven by titles and his coach.

    “I don't really pay attention to the top-five point guard [lists]; they always forget about me anyway,” Parker responded.

    “It doesn't matter to me anymore, seriously I play for the city of San Antonio, for the Spurs, all our fans, Coach Pop, my teammates. That's what makes me go."

    Whether he cares or not, though, Parker led the Spurs to eliminating Curry and the Warriors. He is now the best point guard remaining in the 2013 NBA playoffs.

    Parker gets lost in the veteran shuffle that also includes Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. But at just 31 years old, Parker already has three titles and an NBA Finals Most Valuable Player award.

    None of the remaining point guards this postseason score as much (22.2 points) or as efficiently (46.5 percent) as Parker. His ability to break down defenses from the midfloor and draw help opens up the perimeter. Because of this, and the nature of the Spurs offense, he also collects plenty of hockey assists from the extra pass initially created by Parker.

    No remaining point guard is more dangerous offensively than Parker.

    2. Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies

    Mike Conley earned a respect that will never extend to Parker, as the Memphis point guard earned NBA All-Defense honors in the regular season. He continues to defend well this postseason.

    Conley is also proving his value as the perimeter threat of a Grizzlies team with a sturdy interior. He has moved the Grizzlies through the first two rounds, including a matchup against Chris Paul.

    Conely's shooting percentage of 38.7 percent this postseason and 28.6 from three-point range drops him below Parker, though. Still, the 25-year-old Conley is averaging 17.3 points, 7.7 assists and 4.8 rebounds. He's also averaging 1.6 steals.

    3. George Hill, Indiana Pacers

    George Hill is bringing a new element to the podium. When the Indiana Pacers point guard got in front of a mic along with his starting teammates to address media prior to the Eastern Conference Finals, he had one message: "Follow me on Twitter."

    So, he isn't shy.

    The 27-year-old is playing for his hometown Pacers, and he has averaged 15.6 points and 4.4 assists per game this postseason. His length as a defender contributes to the Pacers' defensive strength.

    Like Conley, and perhaps the rest of Indiana's perimeter, Hill needs to increase his shooting percentage higher than its current 40.9 percent mark if the Pacers can pull off an upset against the Heat.

    4. Mario Chalmers, Miami Heat

    It's fair to say that Mario Chalmers is the least effective point guard remaining this postseason. Ultimately, when you play alongside LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, there's limited opportunities somewhere.

    It isn't to say that Chalmers is ineffective, but his role is the most curbed. Chalmers is taking 2.6-of-6.1 (41.8 percent) shot attempts per game and averages 4.4 assists.

Shooting Guard: Dwyane Wade

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    1. Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat

    Dwyane Wade is going to have to be more involved at some point as the best shooting guard in the game remains in his quest for a third championship.

    When the basketball history books are finalized years from now, Wade won't be forgotten beneath the LeBron James headlines.

    The length and quickness of Wade still sets him apart from anyone at his position. He still creates on his own, and he attacks the basket, where he shot 69.1 percent from inside five feet in the regular season.

    As the general "he's amazing" sentiment surrounding Wade continues to fade into James' shadow, the 31-year-old continues to produce at a greater efficiency.

    He has clearly shined in accepting his role as a second option. He averaged 21.2 points on a career-high 52.1 percent shooting in the regular season, playing in 69 games.

    It was Wade who helped delivered Miami's title last season, averaging 22.7 points, 4.3 assists and 5.2 rebounds per game. This postseason, Wade is battling the health of his knee that has limited him to 13 points per game, though he is averaging 5.4 assists.

    But expect big things from Wade in both the Eastern Conference Finals and the NBA Finals.

    2. Tony Allen, Memphis Grizzlies

    Stop killing Tony Allen for his offense.

    The Grizzlies shooting guard is known for his league-best on-ball defense, but did you realize Allen has the highest shooting percentage of all Grizzlies perimeter players this postseason?

    He still has no range, but Allen finds ways to score at 46.9 percent for 10.8 points per game this postseason.

    As a defender, Allen struggled like the rest of his team in Game 1 against the San Antonio Spurs, but his defense is the best cure for shutting down an individual scorer. Off the ball, he may need help, but no one is better when an opponent gets hot.

    3. Manu Ginobili, Spurs

    This is the time of year everyone starts to remember just how good Manu Ginobili can get—read: can get. He's streaky, and when it's clicking in his head, he can shoulder the Spurs on scoring runs. For his career, Ginobili is 45 percent in the postseason for 14.9 points per game.

    But so far this postseason, Ginobili hasn't been on. He's shooting just 37.5 percent, and he's connecting on just 1.7-of-5.2 three-point attempts. He's also shooting just 66.7 percent from the free-throw line. The Spurs play Ginobili off the bench as an offensive weapon, and he will need to do more.

    If not for Ginobili's history and what he is capable of, Danny Green is the team's more valuable shooting guard.

    4. Lance Stephenson, Indiana Pacers

    The Pacers need standout intangibles in a battle against the Heat. Lance Stephenson offers a level of toughness that will be necessary in slowing down Miami and helping guard LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

    Recently lauded for his growth, Stephenson scored 25 points on 9-of-13 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds to finish off the New York Knicks in Game 6 to advance the Pacers to the conference finals.

Small Forward: LeBron James

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    1. LeBron James, Miami Heat

    It's almost as if LeBron James has been too quiet this postseason.

    The league's Most Valuable Player is softly dominating the 2013 NBA playoffs, moving through the first two rounds with numbers just slightly lower than his MVP regular-season totals. In nine playoff games, James is averaging 24 points, 7.3 assists and 7.3 rebounds.

    In three regular-season meetings this season, the Pacers held James to 21 points, 4.7 assists and 7.3 rebounds.

    Now it is James' time to make noise. Great players become amazing during this point of the season. Expect exactly that from James, who averaged 30 points, 6.2 assists and 10.8 rebounds in last year's conference semifinals against Indiana.

    James is entering his fifth conference finals in seven years. Last year, he scored 33.6 points per game in the seven-game East finals against the Boston Celtics.

    2. Paul George, Indiana Pacers

    Paul George has made a name for himself this season as a first-time All-Star, as the league's Most Improved Player and now in helping lead his team to the conference finals.

    But there's one larger feat that looms: topple No. 1.

    George can further add to his credibility by battling defensively against James and by keeping pace offensively. If he could even come close to matching James' production, it would be a victory for the Pacers.

    George is averaging 19.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists this postseason.

    3. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs

    The length and athleticism of the Spurs' youngest talent was a difference-maker in cooling the shooting of Golden State's dangerous backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.

    And in Game 1 against the Memphis Grizzlies, it was Kawhi Leonard's dangerous outside shot that was part of a three-point assault by the Spurs. Leonard was 4-of-5 from behind the arc in Game 1, and he is averaging 14.1 points on 56.9 percent shooting this postseason.

    4. Tayshaun Prince, Memphis Grizzlies

    Prince became the Kevin Durant stopper in the conference semifinals.

    According to ESPN stats:

    Tayshaun Prince guarded Durant on 67 percent of his field-goal attempts the last two games of the series, after sharing a near 50-50 split the first three games. Durant was unable to score inside the paint the last two games, scoring a total of 10 points after averaging 12.0 paint points during the first three games of the series.

    There may not be another ideal assignment for Prince, as Durant is his mirror image in length and thinness, but Prince will be needed to help extend the Grizzlies defense around the arc against San Antonio.

Power Forward: Zach Randolph

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    1. Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies

    Don't expect the San Antonio Spurs to do it twice. Zach Randolph was held to 1-of-8 shooting and two points in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. San Antonio plugged the paint to smother Randolph, fronting him and collapsing at each opportunity.

    Memphis will need to adjust in Game 2, either by switching offensive sets or making the Spurs pay for leaving open shooters. Randolph's first-game bust was unexpected, as it followed the bruising forward's 28-point, 14-rebound performance in the series-deciding Game 5 victory against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

    He has been better this postseason than Tim Duncan despite his poor performance in Game 1.

    Randolph is second in rebounding of remaining power forwards at 9.1 per game, trailing Duncan's 9.3 per game. Randolph, however, is leading remaining power forwards in scoring at 18.3 points per game. He also has the highest shooting percentage (49.4) of all power forwards this postseason who average double-digit field-goal attempts.

    2. Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs

    Duncan is the greatest power forward to ever play the game; however, he hasn't been the best at his position this postseason.

    He is shooting 45 percent for 17.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, but he has yet to be deadly. Randolph has been more dangerous.

    Duncan is shooting just 45 percent this postseason, and he wasn't efficient against the Golden State Warriors, shooting just 42.3 percent in the conference semifinals. Randolph was miserable in Game 1, but Duncan wasn't much better at 3-of-9 shooting for six points in 27 minutes.

    Duncan continues to play well, but Randolph has become the class of his position. Still, there's no more surprise to Duncan's continued high level of play into the postseason.

    3. David West, Indiana Pacers

    A strained right calf held David West out of practice on Monday, but he's expected to play in Game 1 against the Miami Heat.

    The Pacers need his offense.

    West didn't shoot as efficiently (45.1 percent) against the New York Knicks as he did against the Atlanta Hawks (48.8 percent for 16.3 points) or in the regular season (49.8 percent for 17.1 points).

    West has been part of a bullying middle for Indiana to this point, and his strength could cause problems for Miami. If the Pacers have hopes for an upset, West must contribute heavily to an offense that will need to keep pace.

    4. Udonis Haslem, Miami Heat

    Udonis Haslem is a scoring threat for the Miami Heat, even if they don't ask him to be.

    The jump shot of the power forward has been impressive this postseason, as he is shooting the highest percentage of all Miami starters at 63.4 percent from the field.

    He is, however, only receiving 17.7 minutes per game to score 6.2 points per game. He deserves more run, and he should get it against the Pacers.

Center: Marc Gasol

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    1. Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies

    There's no trepidation in admitting the best power forward and center remaining this postseason both dwell in the Grizzlies' interior.

    Marc Gasol is clearly the best center remaining, with lane-clogging defensive efforts matched with a versatile offensive game that includes mid-range shooting.

    Of all remaining centers, Gasol's 18 points per game is highest and so is his 39.8 minutes per game. His 2.17 blocks is second behind Roy Hibbert, and his rebounding of 7.8 ranks third behind both Hibbert and Chris Bosh.

    Gasol reinforced his honor as the top center in the series victory against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Gasol delivered a series-clinching bucket from just inside the arc—big-man fade style—to complete the Grizzlies' Game 5 victory against the Thunder.

    2. Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers

    Roy Hibbert could be the best defender of the postseason.

    “He’s the best rim protector in the game,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said of Hibbert, according Ben Golliver to “No disrespect to the [All-Defensive] First Team members, Tyson Chandler, and Marc Gasol, the Defensive Player of the Year, but Roy Hibbert is the best rim protector in the game.”

    Hibbert leads the all remaining centers with 2.5 blocks per game and rebounds (9.6). His 14 points per game is second to Gasol, and he is shooting 80.7 percent from the free-throw line. He is scoring more and rebounding more than Bosh this postseason.

    3. Chris Bosh, Miami Heat

    It's no disrespect to what Chris Bosh has accomplished in nine games this postseason to say that both Gasol and Hibbert have been better. Bosh has still been impressive though, shooting an efficient 51.6 percent from the field for 13.2 points per game and grabbing 8.3 rebounds.

    Like Gasol and Hibbert, Bosh has become an effective rim protector. Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel noted that Bosh's 18 blocks in nine playoff games are one shy of his postseason high of 19 blocks in 21 games in 2011.

    4. Tiago Splitter, San Antonio Spurs

    Tiago Splitter plays the least role of all starting centers. He's averaging just 3.8 attempts per game (though he is hitting at 50 percent) for 5.3 points per game, down from 10.3 points per game in the regular season.

    While his minutes are down from 24.7 and 21.3, Splitter's rebounding is also down from 6.4 in the regular season to 3.6 per game postseason. 

    Splitter did lose time because of an ankle injury, but he played 31 minutes and scored his high of the postseason with 14 points in Game 6 against the Golden State Warriors. He came back, though, with just one point and no rebounds in 17 minutes in Game 1 vs. the Grizzlies.