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Most-Overlooked Contributors of the 2013 NBA Playoffs

Brendan BowersContributor IIMarch 25, 2016

Most-Overlooked Contributors of the 2013 NBA Playoffs

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    The most overlooked contributors of the 2013 NBA playoffs include a combination of starters and rotation players who have elevated their performance in the postseason.

    Each player highlighted is not a star, but each has made a star-caliber impact at times during the playoffs.

    Those impacts have included memorable single-game performances along with increasing production and efficiency across the board during the postseason.

    The most overlooked contributors highlighted also include a representative from each team that won at least one postseason series.

New York Knicks: Iman Shumpert

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    The 19 points that Iman Shumpert scored during 25 minutes of work in Game 6 against the Indiana Pacers were almost enough to help his team avoid elimination.

    Regardless of the New York Knicks eventually falling in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Shumpert's performance throughout the postseason was encouraging. 

    While the attention surrounded Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith and Amar'e Stoudemire's role off the bench, Shumpert improved his production across the board in the playoffs. 

    His field-goal and three-point percentages improved to 41 and 42.9 percent, respectively, up from 39.6 and 40.2 in the regular season. Shumpert also increased his scoring and rebounding to 9.3 points and six rebounds per game from 6.8 and three.

    Additionally, after doing so only nine times in 45 regular-season appearances, Shumpert went for double-figure points six times in the 2013 playoffs.

Chicago Bulls: Marco Belinelli

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    Nate Robinson was spectacular during the playoffs.

    Joakim Noah and Jimmy Butler were as well, while the Chicago Bulls' collective effort inspired throughout the postseason.

    Sometimes overlooked in that narrative, though, was the effectiveness of Marco Belinelli.

    After starting 27 of the 73 games he appeared in during the regular season, Belinelli started seven of the Bulls' 12 playoff games.

    Lined up opposite Robinson in the Bulls backcourt, he kept defenses honest with his shot-making ability.

    Belinelli improved his field-goal percentage from 39.5 in the regular season to 41.1 in the playoffs, as his scoring average increased from 9.6 to 11.1 points per night.

    During Game 7 against the Brooklyn Nets, specifically, Belinelli finished with 24 points on 57.1 percent shooting to help his Bulls advance to the second round.

Golden State Warriors: Draymond Green

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    The moment that Draymond Green was waiting on arrived during the postseason.

    In Game 6 of the Golden State Warriors' first-round series with the Denver Nuggets, Green scored 16 points in 24 minutes to help his team advance to the second round.

    It was the second time that Green scored double figures in the series, something he'd accomplish three times in total before his Warriors were eliminated.

    During the regular season, the rookie had reached double figures only once, in a December 21 win over the Charlotte Bobcats.

    His production fell off in the Warriors' second-round series with the San Antonio Spurs, but Green's overall postseason contributions should not be dismissed.

    Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Bogut, David Lee and Jarrett Jack deserved all the attention they received, but Green had a major impact on the postseason success that Golden State experienced as well.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Reggie Jackson

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    The season-ending injury that Russell Westbrook suffered during the Oklahoma City Thunder's second playoff game thrust Reggie Jackson into the unenviable role of replacing a superstar.

    In relief of the All-NBA point guard, Jackson performed admirably as a starter for nine games.

    While the postseason story centered on teammate Kevin Durant's ability to lead the Thunder on a deep playoff run sans Westbrook, Jackson did as well as anyone could've hoped.

    He improved his regular-season scoring average from 5.3 points per night to 13.9 in the playoffs. He also collected 4.9 rebounds while dishing out 3.6 assists.

    If Serge Ibaka had averaged more than the 12.8 points he did in support of Durant and Jackson, Oklahoma City might be playing for a Western Conference championship.

    Through no fault of Jackson's, however, the Thunder were eliminated in five games by the Memphis Grizzlies.

San Antonio Spurs: Danny Green

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    Tony Parker has been the best overall point guard in the 2013 playoffs.

    Much of what he's been able to accomplish, though, has been aided by a stable of shooters who've been meticulously placed around Parker on the perimeter.

    While the San Antonio Spurs point guard is deservedly celebrated, along with Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and even Kawhi Leonard to an extent defensively, Danny Green's consistent ability to knock down those shots is often overlooked.

    After connecting on 42.9 percent of his three-point attempts during the regular season, Green has improved his efficiency from long range to 44.8 percent in the playoffs.

    He's also shooting 46.6 percent from the floor overall while averaging 10.6 points per game.

    When Green forces his defender to stay on the perimeter and not help on the Parker drive, the Spurs are nearly impossible to defend.

Memphis Grizzlies: Quincy Pondexter

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    While the Memphis Grizzlies' ultimate success will be determined by Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, they could benefit from having a couple more Quincy Pondexters.

    Pondexter has provided a long-range threat that has kept defenses from clogging up the lane at times in defense of Randolph and Gasol for a full 48 minutes. 

    In 13 postseason games off the bench, Pondexter has shot 43.9 percent from three-point range.

    As a team, the Grizzlies rank ninth overall in three-point field-goal percentage at 31.9. 

    In addition to his work on the perimeter, Pondexter has gotten to the basket while averaging 7.4 points per contest in the postseason.

    Memphis will need even more than that from him in Game 3, however, if the Grizzlies are going to come back from down 2-0 to the San Antonio Spurs.

Indiana Pacers: Lance Stephenson

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    Lance Stephenson has been a reliable member of the Indiana Pacers' supporting cast throughout the 2012-13 campaign.

    But after averaging 29.2 minutes per night in the regular season, Stephenson's usage has increased to 34.8 over 13 playoff games.

    Besides the show-stopping blocks from Roy Hibbert and superstar performances by Paul George, Stephenson has been explosive at times in his own right.

    He's averaged 9.5 points and 8.4 rebounds to go along with 3.3 assists as a starter.

    In his most memorable performance, Stephenson scored 25 points on 69.2 percent shooting to help beat the New York Knicks in Game 6. Besides that, though, he has reached double-figure points four other times after averaging 8.8 per game during the regular season.

    Similarly, Lance has recorded double-digit rebounds five times after collecting an average of 3.9 per contest in the regular season.

Miami Heat: Norris Cole

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    Norris Cole has shot 57.7 percent from the field to average 8.1 points during the postseason.

    He has also connected on 11 of his 17 three-point field goal attempts for a staggering percentage of 64.7.

    When the Miami Heat bring this type of production off the bench in support of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, you may as well just save your energy and not play defense at all.

    James, Wade and Bosh are difficult enough to defend as it is, but when rotation players like Cole contribute at this level, the Heat are unstoppable.

    The attention will always be on the Big Three in the postseason, as it obviously should be, but the effort from Cole, in his second season out of Cleveland State University, should not be overlooked.

    The athleticism that Cole has brought to the defensive end of the floor during the postseason, most notably against Nate Robinson and the Chicago Bulls, shouldn't be dismissed either.

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