With few exceptions, it takes at least one top-10 superstar in his prime to secure a title. But along the way, just about every team gets a boost from an unlikely source as well.
Harrison Barnes slid over to the power forward spot in last year's playoffs, turning the Golden State Warriors into a vastly more dangerous small-ball bunch. And Mike Miller continued his habit of hobbling off the bench to bury critical threes for the eventual champion Miami Heat.
So, who's the next secret weapon set to lift his team and surprise everyone in the process?
Here's a hint: One of them is about to reprise Barnes' shock-duty stretch 4 position for the Golden State Warriors.
We'll scour each postseason entrant's roster to find the most likely candidates. Obviously, established stars in their primes are disqualified—they're hardly secret. But we might run across a few aging vets with stardom in their pasts. And don't expect to see too many starters, either.
Ultimately, we're out to find the X-factors, the hidden gems and the quiet producers who figure to have key impacts in the playoffs. Maybe they provide an intangible nobody else on the team brings, or perhaps they fill a critical role against a particularly vulnerable opponent.
You'd usually have to dig deep into the scouting report to find these guys, but don't be surprised when one or two of them swing an entire series on their own.
Here is every team's secret weapon for the upcoming NBA playoffs.
Note: This article is based on the projected playoff field. Therefore, the New York Knicks and Memphis Grizzlies were not included.