Success in the NBA regular season is a lot like having a good GPA before you take the SATs. It looks nice, and it means that you’ve obviously been doing something right, but at the same time you still have a lot to prove.
Just like having a good NBA regular season looks nice, and means that these players have been doing something right, they still have a lot of work to do to validate their season as a success. Much like the SATs, the NBA playoffs are a test of how well a player and his team performs under pressure when it matters most.
Besides having home court if the series goes to a seventh game, there are no other advantages to having a great regular season. Just ask the Dallas Mavericks how their regular season record of 55-27, which earned them the second seed in the Western Conference, helped them during the first round against the seventh seed San Antonio Spurs.
A player’s performance in the NBA playoffs shows how well they play when everything is on the line, and can very well define their careers.
Players like Patrick Ewing, John Stockton, Karl Malone, and Charles Barkley headline recent NBA stars that could never quite get it done in the playoffs.
There’s no doubt that these four guys are among the greatest players of all time and during their careers they complied record breaking statistics, not to mention being integral parts of some very good teams.
But because of many different reasons (a guy named Michael for one) these players and their teams could never win the big one, and in some respects they are defined by their inability to reach the game's highest plateau.
The NBA playoffs can also be a time of redemption for a player who has underperformed during the regular season. A championship run can make fans forget about a guy’s disappointing play from October to April, and they will only remember him hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy come June.
There’s no doubt that the players on this list have established themselves as some of the best players in the NBA, but we have yet to see them replicate their regular season success in the playoffs and lead their respective teams to a championship.
Although a few teams have already been knocked out, these are the five remaining guys have the most to prove in the NBA playoffs.