Yesterday, I broke down my list of the point guards of this years playoff teams. Today, we take a look at their backcourt brethren. Similar to the point guard breakdown, the teams with the best overall record don’t always have the best players at a particular position.
16. Peja Stojakovic - Peja has had a rather disappointing 2008-09 season, and while his days of being a sharp shooter who is feared from beyond the arc may be over, we will see if he can give the Hornets anything in their first series.
15. Von Wafer - The Rockets replacement for Tracy McGrady has overachieved thus far, but the playoffs are a different beast.
He can ask T-Mac about that.
14. Ronnie Brewer - Brewer has done a good job this year in Utah. Unfortunately for him, he will be going against Kobe Bryant in the first round. Good luck with that.
13. Courtney Lee - At times, Lee has shot lights out for the Magic. Other times, he seems to be going through the motions, and transparent on the defensive end. That won’t be good if Orlando winds up drawing the Bulls in the first round.
12. Andre Iguodala - The 76ers star can make me, and everyone else, a believer in the other AI being able to deliver in the playoffsif he can step his game up higher than ever against either the Cavs, Celtics, or Magic.
11. Roger Mason - Just like Tony Parker, Mason will be expected to pick up the scoring slack due to the injury to Manu Ginobili. Mason has been Mr. Clutch this season for San Antonio, and caught many teams off guard early in the year, when he simply was on the court as a decoy for their big 3.
Can he hit a big shot or two when his number is called now?
10. J.R. Smith - The Nuggets streaky shooter can put up 40 at any given time, but he also can forget how to defend just as quick. The addition of Chauncey Billups will help Smith, but isolation offense with the best in the West could make Smith look like a liability next week.
9. Mo Williams - Lebron’s sidekick has fit right in for the Cavs this year, and many in Cleveland are comparing the James/Williams dynamic duo to another popular pair from Chicago that wreaked havoc on the NBA a decade ago.
8. Jason Terry - The probable sixth man of the year could start on quite a few of the playoff teams this year, yet the Jet relishes in his role off the bench.
Dallas may not advance past the first round this season, but it won’t be because of Terry.
7. Ben Gordon - The Bulls most dynamic shooter has the ability to light it up with the best of them. Similar to Denver’s J.R Smith though, he also can make unthinkable fouls in the worst of times. Gordon will be a free agent after this season, and definitely has more motivation than others on his team to put on a good show.
6. Joe Johnson - Last season, the upstart Hawks suprised many, and pushed the heavily favored Celtics to game 7. Joe Johnson had a stellar series, though he, along with his team came up short.
This year is a different story.
The Hawks will have home court, and Johnson is expected to get his team to the next level.
5. Richard Hamilton - The Pistons have made it to the Conference Finals for six consecutive years, and much of that success is due to the play of Rip Hamilton. Hamilton wears down his foe on the offensive end of the court, and suffocates them on the defensive end.
Whomever Detroit plays in the first round better not sleep on Hamilton, or else he could make things real interesting.
4. Ray Allen - The Celtics most dangerous shooter has been one of the most consistent this year, and while Boston is still licking their wounds from various injuries, when the lights go on this weekend, Boston will be ready.
A Ray Allen/Richard Hamilton first round series would be worth the price of admission.
3. Brandon Roy - Ranking “The Natural” third on this list is a reach to some, but that’s how much we think of B.Roy.
The Blazers are enjoying their best season in years, and the optimism around the franchise is at an all-time high. Roy is the unquestioned leader, and in order to be mentioned among the best, he will have to get his team over the hump, and at least into the second round.
2. Dwyane Wade - When Dwyane Wade enjoyed playoff success three years ago, his team looked much different. With Shaq anchoring the middle, and a cast of veterans all around, Wade was able to grow up before our very eyes, and dominate the NBA Finals.
This season, Wade returned to his MVP form, and will look to bring the number 5 seed Heat to the promised land on his own.
1. Kobe Bryant - The best closer in the game.