NBA Playoffs' 2011 Top Dog: Power Ranking 5 Best Stars Still Playing
As per the usual with the NBA, the conference finals are loaded with all stars. Night in and night out, these guys almost single-handedly affect the outcomes of the games they play in. However, everyone is wondering who the best remaining stars are in these playoffs.
Obviously, LeBron James is the best player in the NBA in terms of pure talent, but is he playing the best out of the two series currently underway?
That's what we're here to find out.
5. Chris Bosh
This slot was supposed to be occupied by Kevin Durant, but the Thunder were unfortunately eliminated, rendering Durant ineligible for this list.
Chris Bosh has had a respectable enough postseason and is a good enough player to move into this spot in Durant's stead.
He was relatively quiet in the first two rounds, but he exploded in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Bulls, making more field goals in Game 1 against Chicago (12) than he did in the first 3 games against Boston (nine).
He is also the Heat's best big man—an area where the team is sorely below par, so to have him step up has been especially clutch.
4. Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Wade used to be the most talented player on the Heat, but even though the self-proclaimed king swooped in to share the spotlight, the Miami Heat still truly belong to Wade.
His production in this postseason hasn't been what it could be, though that is due more to the focus being placed on him by opponents. He had a favorable matchup against Ray Allen in the Boston series and was dominant, scoring well over 20 points a game in that series.
Despite being outplayed by Bosh so far against Chicago, he is still far more important to the Heat in this series—and their championship hopes altogether. At this point, the Heat are poised for a rematch of the 2006 NBA Finals against the Mavs, where Wade was the true king.
Overall, Wade is one of the best players in the NBA, though the remainder of the players on this list have outshined him thus far in the postseason.
3. Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose is one strong bull. After all, he's had a whole roster of players riding on his back since the postseason started.
Bad puns aside, the reigning MVP is an absolute animal on the court, scoring over 20 points a game in all but two contests, and he essentially beat the Hawks by himself, averaging just under eight assists as well.
His body control is about as good as anyone could possibly ask for. Watching him score on layups that simply look impossible is extremely entertaining.
The problem for Rose is that he sometimes feels the need to carry the load, even when he doesn't have to. He starts trying to set the pace by himself, which can sometimes cause him to take wild shots when he might be better off passing.
If the Bulls do manage to pull off a championship, Rose will obviously be the reason it happens.
2. LeBron James
Here he is, the self-proclaimed king.
Let me be clear again. Based on pure talent alone, LeBron is far and away the best player in basketball, postseason or otherwise. I don't need to give you his stats because if you are reading this, then you know enough about basketball to know already.
Despite his immense talent, many people—including myself—still wonder if LeBron has the killer instincts required to take over a game in clutch situations. There is no doubt he has the ability to do it, but his heart is another question entirely.
I'll tell you this much—if the Heat do win the championship this year and shut the critics up, LeBron had better hope he is crowned MVP because if it ends up being Wade, he may never get out of his friend's shadow.
1. Dirk Nowitzki
This freak of nature does have killer instincts. Aside from being a 7-footer with a long range jumpshot, Nowitzki is just an incredibly clutch player who completely changes the outcome of the games he plays in.
Nobody had the No. 3-seeded Mavericks going deep, yet they managed to sweep away Kobe's Lakers in the Western Conference Semifinals before snuffing the life out of the trendy pick in the OKC Thunder.
One of the most poignant examples of Dirk's effect on the postseason came in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals. The Thunder took a 14-point lead with less than five minutes left in the game when Dirk suddenly decided it was time to play. He scored double digits during a 16-2 run, making some shots that did not even look humanly possible.
Nowitzki is one of the most dangerous players in basketball on a normal day, but when it comes down to the wire in the closing minutes of big games, it is difficult to find an equal.
Dirk is without a doubt the best player in this postseason, and he'll prove that 10 times over when the Mavericks win this year's finals.
That is an official prediction.
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