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In the midst of one of the best and most exciting NBA seasons in recent history, we’ve reached the crucial point. The All-Star break was full of spectacular events and highlights, the trade deadline ended with a boom with DeMarcus Cousins going to the Pelicans and much more.
Many minor trades and signings happened, and those just might be the keys to the next 20+ game stretch, going into the most exciting and thrilling time of the year. The playoffs. All the regular season problems are left behind and it’ the players’ chance to go down in history.
We all know about LeBron James, James Harden, Isaiah Thomas and the other superstars, but who are the men behind the scenes who can really impact a series? Let’s find out, shall we?
- Matt Barnes – Golden State Warriors
The gritty veteran was a part of the famous Warriors team which upset the Dallas Mavericks back in 2007. Now, he’s back and ready to finish what he started. Many may overlook this signing, but make no mistake, as he brings something the Warriors lacked – toughness and grit.
- Bojan Bogdanovic – Washington Wizards
Even though the Croatian swingman didn’t receive much hype when he played for the awful Brooklyn Nets, he is a much-needed piece for the depleted Wizards’ bench this season. This was evident from the start, as the sharpshooter went off for 27 points and 6/7 from three point land.
- Clint Capela – Houston Rockets
With the addition of Lue Williams, the Rockets have shooters firing on all cylinders and it’s just a matter of time before the team gains traction and becomes unstoppable. The young Swiss center can be the missing piece, because, when he plays the pick-n-roll and defends the paint, there is no beating Houston.
- JaMychal Green – Memphis Grizzlies
Although nobody talks about them, the Grizzlies have been solid playoff performers these last few years, regularly exceeding expectations with a plethora of injuries and a limited roster. Although the former D-League call-up is still inexperienced, he can add even more toughness and be their future power forward after Zach Randolph retires.
- Ersan Ilyasova – Atlanta Hawks
The Turkish veteran was never quite close to star status, but his excellent three-point shooting makes him an ideal choice for a power forward to place next to Dwight Howard and his paint-oriented game. The Hawks are in need of stretching the floor and Ersan just might be the answer.
- Danny Green – San Antonio Spurs
He is far from unknown and actually holds the record for most threes in a Finals series. The Spurs’ 20 years long playoff streak is alive and well, but the burden can’t rest on Kawhi’s shoulders only. If the veteran shooting guards get hot, the Spurs become a different threat.
- Norman Powell – Toronto Raptors
Moving Terence Ross and a first round pick for Serge Ibaka was an excellent move, but there’s more to it than just Ibaka’s addition. The trade freed much needed minutes for the young sharpshooter and we’re eager to see him go and unleash his sharpshooting and tenacious defense upon any opponent in the playoffs.
- Lou Williams – Houston Rockets
What happens when you pair one of the best three-point shooters and a Sixth Man of the Year candidate with another sharpshooter and bench star? Chaos and fire from three-point range. The Rockets’ mid-season acquisition from the Lakers turned their bench into, by far, the strongest in the league.
- Andrew Bogut – Cleveland Cavaliers
The Aussie veteran has signed with the Cavs after clearing waivers and he makes them the most versatile team in the league. With him and Tristan Thompson, the Cavs can counter big-man oriented teams like the Hawks and wreak havoc on smaller frontcourts. He’s going to be a problem.
- Avery Bradley – Boston Celtics
The First Team All-Defensive member just returned from an 18 game absence and is ready to hawk opposing guards. Aside from being perhaps the best perimeter defender in the last decade, Bradley averages 18 points per game and is the Celtics’ leading rebounder. They were good without him, but now they become a truly scary team.