The 2009 NBA Play-Offs may be headlined by star players such as LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, but their performances does not necessarily put their teams into the Finals. It comes down to their supporting cast, and ultimately, the X-Factor, the one person who comes up big down the stretch that makes clutch shots. These, are the people who will help their stars the most, the X-Factors.
Rafer Alston has been huge for the Orlando Magic ever since he came over from the Houston Rockets before the trade deadline. In the play-offs, he has been nothing short of great, as he has given the Magic the stability that they missed when Jameer Nelson went down for the season with an injury.
When Alston scores over 8 points in the play-offs, the Magic are 10-3. When he scores below that they are 0-4. That is a huge difference. Alston can shoot the 3 ball, like the rest of the Magic, but when he is off, the Magic shooters are not as effective. The Magic are truly at their best when Alston is doing work.
The Cleveland Cavaliers may have LeBron James, but he still needs help to get to his 2nd NBA Finals.
Mo Williams was brought in to Cleveland this year to help LeBron, and that is exactly what he did. During the regular season, Williams led the Cavs to a 42-8 record when he scored 15 points or more. During the play-offs, there was not much for him to do until this series. The Cavs cruised all through the play-offs until they met the Magic.
Williams is King James right hand man, and is a deadly assassin in the big moment. In the crucial Game 5, Williams scored 24 points!
Lamar Odom has not had as many big games as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers would like, but when he does, the Lakers are almost automatic to get the W.
When Odom scores at least 7 points, the Lakers are 10-4 throughout the postseason. When he fails to do so, the Lakers are only 1-2.
Also, Odom is an all-around player, so when he grabs at least 7 rebounds, the Lakers are 9-4 and when he doesn't, they are 3-2.
Yes, Odom is the X-Factor for the Lakers even though they have Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum. The truth is, Odom is more versatile and valuable than both of them. He can play both forward positions, and the center spot. Odom helps this team more than both Gasol and Bynum. He just goes out and gets the job done.
J.R. Smith. like Odom, is the most versatile player on his team, the Denver Nuggets. He is blazing fast, can shoot, put the ball on the floor, rebound, and is an astounding defensive player for the Nuggets. He is a hard-nosed player that can play point guard, shooting guard, and small forward.
Now, for the stats. When Smith scores 14 or more, the Nuggets are 8-2. When he disappears, they are only 3-3.
Smith means so much to this team. The Nuggets have Kenyon Martin and Nene down in the post, and Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups on the wings. With Smith coming off the bench, the Nuggets have a source of energy that they can turn to to get a spark off the bench. Like I said, he is Mr. Versatility.