2010 NBA Playoffs: 10 Under-the-Radar Players To Watch This Postseason
The moment has arrived NBA fans.
The playoffs are here, and if nothing else, it brings the promise of a “big shot” or that dramatic buzzer beater. The art of being the man has been mastered by many, and playoff time is when these heroic gun-slingers—whoever they might be—take center stage.
Who can forget Reggie Miller torturing Knick fans with his last second barrage of three’s, stealing victory from the jaws of defeat?
I know some people would like to forget it, but Miller’s uncanny offensive display is forever cemented in NBA lore—along with supreme performances of Bird and Magic—they did things over their careers only average NBA players can dream of accomplishing.
And of course, the ultimate show-stopper is none other than, Michael Jeffery Jordan. Six rings and too many buzzer beaters to recall. He wasn’t just the man, he was the only man.
But this playoff primer is not about the brightest stars of the league—we know Kobe and LeBron will have their moments in the sun. This platform is dedicated to finding the diamond in the rough.
Check that- it’s about finding those players who will step up to the challenge and become the next Robert Horry. Channel their inner-Chauncey Billups and do something miraculous—better yet, something we didn’t see coming.
The playoffs are about matchups and opportunities. Some will rise to the occasion, while others will shy away from the pressure cooker.
We won’t talk about how Kevin Durant will single-handily destroy the Lakers defense or if Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire can push the Phoenix Suns to the Western Conference Finals or beyond.
And we certainly won’t discuss the prospects of LeBron making his highly anticipated return visit to the NBA Finals.
Nope, we’re digging deep to find the top-10 sleepers of the 2010 NBA Playoffs. And we’ll tip it off with some Turkish delight.
10. Mehmet Okur, Utah Jazz
Okur is often the forgotten man in Utah’s pick-and-roll offense. But the Jazz are desperate for a third scorer. Jerry Sloan must find somebody to take the heat off Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams. Okur has stepped up as of late. He had back-to-back 20-point performances against Golden State and Phoenix to close out the regular season. More of the same is expected from Okur in the playoffs. If the Jazz are to advance past Denver in the first-round, they'll need the scoring ability of the man they call "money".
9. Luke Ridnour, Milwaukee Bucks
Bucks point guard Luke Ridnour takes the ball-handling pressure off phenom Brandon Jennings and he also adds some much needed veteran leadership.
Ridnour does it all, shoots the ball well from downtown (6-6 from the field, 17 points vs. Boston), distributes the ball to the playmakers, and provides floor leadership to Milwaukee’s youthful team. In January, Ridnour averaged 9.4 assists per game. That's better production then marquee point guards Tony Parker and Devin Harris.
8. James Harden, Oklahoma City Thunder
James Harden was the third-pick in last year’s draft and he’s managed to fit in nicely with Durant, Westbrook and Green. At 6-5 and 200 pounds, Harden can shoot over defenses or post up smaller defenders.
However, the most distinctive thing about Harden’s game is his thick beard—by far the best whiskers in the league. But make no mistake, the former Sun Devil has a jumper and he knows how to use it.
Harden averaged nearly 10 points a game and shot 37 percent from 3’s. He’s an underrated defender and has the size to bother opposing guards.
7. Mario Chalmers, Miami Heat
Mario Chalmers last second 3-point shot that sent the 2008 NCAA Championship game into overtime ranks among the greatest shots in tournament history.
As a rookie in th NBA, Chalmers solidified the point guard position in Miami, averaging 10 points per game and 4.9 assists. Obviously superstar Dwyane Wade and Michael Beasley are the main focus of attention in the the Heat’s offense, but Chalmers can produce and will give the Celtics fits with his quickness.
6. Channing Frye, Phoenix Suns
Frye has found a home with the Phoenix Suns.
After spending time in Portland and New York, the former Arizona Wildcat is back and draining 3’s for the league’s most prolific three-point shooting team .
Frye hit 43% from downtown and averages 11 points per game. At 6-11, Frye is one of the toughest players to stop when he gets on a roll from the outside.
Considering that the Suns are built around the inside-out game of Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire, Frye is often left wide open to knock down long-range jumpers.
5. Manu Ginobili San Antonio Spurs
It’s amazing that anyone would forget about Manu Ginobili, but he’s battled injuries and age. In fact, the entire Spurs team could be ready for the scrap-heap.
However, before you write them off, just remember how San Antonio dismantled the Lakers at Staples Center a couple weeks ago.
If the Mavericks aren’t ready for the Spurs, the wily Ginobili will slice and dice the Dallas defense just like he did the Lakers.
4. Jamal Crawford, Atlanta Hawks
Jamal Crawford could and should be the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year. He was the perfect spark off the bench for Mike Woodson’s crew. Crawford averaged 18 points per game and helped the Hawks to a 53-29 record. The ATL might not be ready to join the elite teams of the East (Orlando, Cleveland), but they’re not too far behind.
3. Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns
At 36 years of age, Steve Nash, a perennial All-Star and former league MVP continues to amaze. He’s leading the red-hot Suns back into the playoffs as the third-seed and legitimizes the Suns as true contenders for the NBA Finals.
Nash continues to put up numbers (16 points,11 assists) but he’s no longer the focal point of the Suns offense. He’s a sleeper, because of Amare Stoudemire's dominating play and this new thing in Phoenix called “defense”.
The Suns are finally stopping teams and that’s why Nash no longer has to make every circus-shot or execute the impossible pass for the Suns to win.
2- Jameer Nelson, Orlando Magic
The second most impressive player going under the radar is Orlando’s Jameer Nelson. Over shadowed by Dwight Howard and Vince Carter, the fifth-year guard is entering the playoffs healthy and ready to roll. Nelson will provide plenty of fire-power from the outside. As he broke the NBA’s single-season record for 3-pointers made with 841.
1. Jason Kidd, Dallas Mavericks
The trade that Dallas made to get Kidd in a Mavericks uniform is finally paying off. The 9-time All-Star guided Dallas back into contention this season and did it with little fan fair. Dirk Nowitzki, Caron Butler, Jason Terry and Shawn Marion take all the accolades, but Kidd is the captain and the leader of the second best team in the West.