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Ranking 2021 NBA Playoffs' Most Underappreciated Stars

Household NBA
Mining the Association
The Utah Jazz
the Atlanta Hawks
Brooklyn Nets
Phoenix Suns
Los Angeles Lakers
the Los Angeles Clippers
The Denver Nuggets
Basketball Reference
the NBA for Bleacher Report

Damian Lillard's
Trae Young
Chris Paul
Rudy Gobert
Donovan Mitchell
Luka Doncic
Joel Embiid
Ben Simmons
Tobias Harris
James Harden
Khris Middleton
Danny Green
Kawhi Leonard
Devin Booker's
Cameron Payne
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Anthony Davis
George Mikan
Deandre Ayton
Nikola Jokic
Dan Favale
Adam Fromal



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Kawhi Leonard

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Positivity     44.00%   
   Negativity   56.00%
The New York Times
Write a review: Bleacher Report

Or maybe it's primarily an issue of alternative options and more resounding upswings, be it Damian Lillard's alien clutchness, Kevin Durant's MVPing all over the place after missing last year with a ruptured Achilles, Trae Young getting drunk on supervillain juice or Chris Paul killing Father Time and Father Lazy-Ass Postseason Narratives dead.Whatever the reason, these established and fringe stars deserve far more praise for jobs spectacularly, unimaginably well done.The Utah Jazz offense is peak Nirvana when the rock is pinballing around the court, players are making quick decisions on the catch, and Rudy Gobert is getting ample touches running down the lane to either finish or spritz out to one of his many snipers. Mitchell proved last year he could go nuclear on the biggest stage, but his current detonation has come while recovering from a sprained right ankle that cost him precious first-round time and, most recently, facing Kawhi Leonard as his primary defender.More so than last season, this feels like his superstar turn—that real-time transition in which Mitchell ascends up near the tippy top of the league and never looks back.Somewhat lost amid the dominance of Joel Embiid while playing through a small lateral meniscus tear in his right knee and the Ben Simmons offensive impact discourse is the brilliant postseason display from Tobias Harris.And no, "brilliant" is not an overstatement.Through nine games, Harris is averaging 23.7 points and 3.7 assists on 56.9 percent shooting inside the arc and a 40.0 percent clip from long distance. His 1.09 points per post-up possession rank third among every player to attempt at least 10 shots in those situations, trailing only Embiid (1.28) and Kawhi Leonard (1.21)(!!!).Whether the Sixers have enough offensive juice to make it out of the East and win a title this year is largely up to the state of Embiid's knee and, perhaps, the health of Brooklyn Nets. Someone who should be a No. 3 is doing his best No. 2 impression—and it's a pretty damn good one.Devin Booker's postseason mastery has not flown all the way under the radar, but it wants for appreciation that aligns with all he's doing on offense.Which is everything.To everyone's credit, there is a reasonable, two-syllable explanation for Booker's inaugural playoff display fading, ever so slightly, into the backdrop: Chris Paul. It's a continuation.Between back-to-back 2-0 series holes and a general push, if not innate need, to turn the Los Angeles Clippers into a collective meme, the divine dominance that is Kawhi Leonard hasn't received nearly enough attention.He is averaging 30.4 points, 4.4 assists and 2.1 steals while converting a preposterously high 64.5 percent of his two-pointers. Leonard is the rare player saddled with first-option responsibilities at both sides of the floor—and the only one in these playoffs.So the next time the Clippers are Clippersing, and Kawhi has gone a little quiet for a beat, and you're wondering why people ever inserted him into the best-player-alive discussion, look to his postseason performance in its totality.You'll have your answer.Deandre Ayton is putting together the best, most consistent stretch of his career when it matters most. For reference, they put up 1.18 points per possession outside of garbage time during their entire postseason stay.Everything from Ayton's movement outside the paint to his staunch verticality around the basket has a profound impact on Phoenix's defense.

As said here by Dan Favale