Young players have not only led their teams to the playoffs but are also setting their game up during the most crucial part of the season.
Jammu: The start of the National Basketball Association (NBA) playoffs has been surprising and exciting for the game’s fans. Young stars of the NBA stepped their game up throughout the season to push their teams to a playoff berth. Now, during the playoffs, some of them have lifted their game further. Players like Luka Doncic, Devon Booker, Ja Morant, and Trae Young are showing that they can hold their ground and take on the biggest names in the game in the most crucial time of the season.
Luka Doncic from the Dallas Mavericks is in the playoffs for the second time in his career. He matches up with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, two of the strongest two-way players in the NBA right now, and is averaging 35 points and nine assists per game. His team has taken a 2-0 lead in the seven-match series, and Doncic has been the main anchor for them throughout. Even when he’s not scoring, Doncic assists or draws defenders towards him, so other players can have open shots, as we saw in game two with Tim Hardaway Jr., who scored 28 points while hitting six three-pointers.
Working hard in the regular season, Devon Booker of the Phoenix Suns helped his team reach the playoffs for the first time since 2010. He hasn’t stopped there and has been on fire in the playoffs as well. Going against the defending champions, the Los Angeles Lakers, and their superstar duo, LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Booker has not backed down. Averaging 32.5 points per game, he has taken on the Lakers. He’s not just scoring points but also drawing many fouls, keeping the Lakers team on their toes. NBA experts have been impressed with Booker’s game and one expert, Max Kellerman, compared his game to that of the late great Kobe Bryant.
On route to victory against the New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawk’s Trae Young became the fourth player in NBA history to get 30 points and 10 assists in a playoff debut. Trae also helped Atalanta Hawks make the playoffs after four years. He averaged 25.3 points and 9.4 assists per game during the regular season and helped the Hawks clinch the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference.
Another one of the young players stepping up is Ja Morant. Voted the Rookie of the Year last year, the 21-year-old is the main reason his team, Memphis Grizzlies, reached the NBA playoffs. After finishing tenth in the Western Conference, the Grizzlies had to play in the play-in tournament and beat the San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors to get into the playoffs. In the game against the Warriors, Ja came up against Stephen Curry, this year’s scoring champion, and in a make-it-or-break-it game, he scored 35 points to lead his team into the playoffs to face the top seeds, the Utah Jazz. Coming in as underdogs against the Jazz, Ja scored 26 points and helped his team cause an upset.
These are just some of the names coming up big in the playoffs. Players like Nikola Jokic, Deandre Ayton, and Michael Porter Jr. have also helped their teams in big ways.
Nick Wright, an NBA analyst, praised the current generation of players and how they reached stardom during the playoffs. Ja, Trae, and Booker are playing their first-ever playoffs and have shown up in the biggest spots.
Karan Madhok, a writer and founder of the Indian Basketball blog Hoopistani, said, “One of the best things about the playoffs is that every year they make or break a young player, they prove who is simply good enough to be an ‘All Star’ and who has the making to be a true superstar. It’s great to see players like Luka Doncic – who already had his major breakout last year – Trae Young, Ja Morant, Devin Booker, etc. get an opportunity under the ‘bright lights’ this season.”
Abhishek, who has been following the NBA for years, said, “It’s good and fresh to see the young players stepping up. They are impact players and came up big in the regular season, but surprisingly they are also handling the pressure of the playoffs nicely.”
“They are all the top scorers and integral parts of their team, and without them, their teams wouldn’t really stand a chance to compete. So the onus is on them to produce here and now,” said Karan, when talking about the young players leading their teams to the playoffs.