Gio discusses 3 Sleeper Players To Watch In 2021 NBA Playoffs and 3 Sleeper Players To Watch In 2021 Play-In Games.
3 Sleeper Players To Watch In 2021 NBA Playoffs
Duncan Robinson, Miami Heat
Many players on this Miami Heat team can take over a game and be the team’s spark plug. We saw it last year in the NBA bubble with Tyler Herro. This year, it’ll be his teammate Duncan Robinson who comes alive during the 2021 NBA playoffs.
Robinson’s path to the NBA is nothing short of impressive — from Division III basketball to getting a full ride to Division I Michigan to going undrafted to eventually starting in the NBA Finals last year.
Robinson is more than just a three-point shooter for the Heat, though. He creates space on offense by constantly keeping his feet moving and plays tough defensively against some of the best scorers in the league.
This year, Robinson became the fastest player to reach 500 three-pointers in NBA history, only needing 152 games to do so. In games in which Robinson made five or more threes, the Heat are 13-4. In the playoffs last year, Miami was 4-1 when that happened.
Sinking a few threes in a row can hype any team enough to get out of the deepest ruts. As for Robinson, he can torch a team from deep, as he’s one of the most dangerous catch-and-shoot players in the league. This Miami Heat team is better than last year’s team that went on an NBA Finals run. If Robinson is firing on all cylinders, no one will be calling this year’s run a fluke.
Carmelo Anthony, Portland Trail Blazers
I don’t care how old Carmelo Anthony gets. He’s going to give you buckets when you need him to. A prime example of a player with ice in his veins, Anthony has been a standout veteran addition to the Portland Trail Blazers. Anthony has been efficient coming off the bench at 36 years old (soon to be 37) as he’s averaging 13.4 PPG and shooting 40.9% from deep.
It wasn’t that long ago that NBA teams gave up on Anthony. However, Portland gave him a chance last year, and he hasn’t disappointed. Anthony has been good this season, but he changes gears when it comes to the playoffs. In Portland’s last three games against the Los Angeles Lakers in last season’s NBA playoffs, Anthony had 20, 16, and 27 points. He averaged 35.2 minutes per game in that series, meaning the Trail Blazers have faith in him when the game is on the line.
Anthony will go down as one of the best to ever step on the court. He’s currently 10th all-time in career points and is 50 points shy of passing Moses Malone for 9th.
There’s an opening in the West for the Trail Blazers to come in and disrupt things. Portland has always come up just short in the big games. If Anthony does what we all know he can do in the playoffs, Portland can make a deep run.
Reggie Bullock, New York Knicks
The New York Knicks have been a pleasant surprise this season, returning to the NBA playoffs for the first time since 2013. This fresh-faced Knicks team has had a lot of key players step up, including Reggie Bullock.
The “3-and-D” player has been a helpful addition to Tom Thibodeau’s squad, as Bullock is shooting a 40.3% clip from deep and often guards the opposing team’s best wing player. Not many players can play in Thibodeau’s tough system, yet Bullock has thrived in it.
Bullock has come up clutch multiple times this season, hitting a game-tying three to send the Knicks to overtime against the New Orleans Pelicans (the Knicks went on to win that game and continue their season-high, 9-game win streak). On the defensive side, Bullock had a game-sealing steal against the Orlando Magic to give the Knicks a one-point victory.
Bullock isn’t in the spotlight in New York, as that’s reserved for Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, and even Derrick Rose. That’s what makes him so dangerous — teams will forget about him, and he’ll make a big play. Bullock isn’t afraid to have the ball in his hands when it matters, so watch out come playoffs time.
3 Sleeper Players To Watch In 2021 NBA Play-In Games
Miles Bridges, Charlotte Hornets
When people think of Miles Bridges, they think of his monster dunk on Clint Capela (who’s third in blocks, by the way). Instead, I think of him scoring 15 or more points in nine of his last ten games. Bridges has missed the last six games for the Charlotte Hornets but should come back in time for the play-in game.
Aaron Nesmith, Boston Celtics
Poor play and the recent injury to Jaylen Brown have put the Boston Celtics in the play-in games. With Brown out, rookie Aaron Nesmith has an opportunity to fill the void and become a spark plug that will rejuvenate a Boston team that’s been struggling. He should be the starter moving forward.
Jordan Poole, Golden State Warriors
Fantastic at getting to the rim, Jordan Poole put up 20 points off the bench in back-to-back wins against the two top teams in the Western Conference, the Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns. Poole has dramatically improved throughout the season and will be critical for the Golden State Warriors in the play-in game.
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