The NBA Playoffs are when the pressure is at its highest. Given that the coveted NBA championship is on the line, NBA stars are more likely to be motivated to play their best. Although the physicality and defense are much tougher, some stars have used it as an opportunity to shine brightly. For this piece, let’s take a look at 10 NBA stars who level up their play in the postseason.
Career regular season averages: 18.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.5 blocks
Career playoffs averages: 21.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.7 steals, 0.6 blocks
There isn’t much to say about Jimmy Butler when it comes to shining bright in the postseason, especially after taking the 2023 Eastern Conference Finals MVP to lead the Heat back into the Finals for the second time across four seasons. Butler is averaging 28.5 points per game in the ongoing postseason in contrast to his 22.9 points per game in the 2022-2023 regular season to lead an eight-seed squad to the Finals.
Career regular season averages: 20.2 points, 10.5 rebounds, 6.6 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.7 blocks
Career playoffs averages: 27.3 points, 11.9 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.9 blocks
After missing out on his third straight MVP, Nikola Jokic is taking care of business under the bright lights of the NBA Playoffs. After averaging an impressive near triple-double during the regular season, he averaged a triple-double in the Western Conference Finals rematch against the Lakers. In the series, he put up 27.8 points, 14.5 rebounds, and 11.8 assists per game to clinch the Nuggets’ first Finals appearance and the Western Conference Finals MVP.
Career regular season averages: 16.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.3 blocks
Career playoffs averages: 25.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.3 blocks
While Nikola Jokic has been great, Jamal Murray certainly deserves his flowers after successfully coming back from a serious knee injury. After missing the entire 2021-2022 NBA season, Murray’s return has greatly benefited the Nuggets. His elite scoring of 32.5 points per outing in the Western Conference Finals proved to be vital in the Nuggets’ Finals clinching campaign. In fact, Murray’s scoring increased by almost nine points in the postseason compared to the regular season.
Career Season: 24.6 points, 4.7 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.2 blocks
Career Playoffs: 27.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.3 blocks
Stephen Curry is one of the most decorated NBA stars today with four NBA championships, one Finals MVP, and two MVPs. And to become one of the most decorated players today, he has been great both in the regular season and in the playoffs. However, it’s worth noting that Curry becomes more aggressive in scoring when it matters most. He increases his scoring output and takes more threes per game in the postseason with 10.6 a game in contrast to 9.0 during the regular season. He also makes more with 4.2 per game from rainbow country.
Career regular season averages: 9.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 7.9 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.1 blocks
Career playoffs averages: 12.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, 8.5 assists, 1.7 steals, 0.2 blocks
There’s a reason why people claim that Playoff Rondo is just different. Back in the day, during his peak, Rondo proved to be the x-factor for the Celtics’ Big Three era in the late 2000s. In fact, it’s safe to say that he was responsible for sending LeBron James to South Beach after having a monster series. Fast forward to 2020, we got a last look at Playoff Rondo when he dropped 19 points, four rebounds, and four assists off the bench to win NBA championships with the two winningest franchises in league history.
Career regular season averages: 20.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.7 steals, 0.4 blocks
Career playoffs averages: 21.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.5 blocks
Way before he was regarded as Pandemic P, there was Playoff P when Paul George starred for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Although George hasn’t been on teams with playoff success, that doesn’t take away from how individually great PG was back in the day. He put up 24.7 points per outing in his first series with the Thunder uniform to give himself the moniker.
Career regular season averages: 19.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.7 steals, 0.6 blocks
Career playoffs averages: 21.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.7 blocks
Kawhi Leonard doesn’t really have plenty of MVP trophies. However, he does make up for it with a pair of NBA championships and Finals MVPs. As a result, it’s evident that The Klaw saves up most of his energy for postseason success. Despite being injury-riddled pretty much throughout the regular season, Leonard has proved that he can win in the postseason after helping the Spurs and the Raptors reach the pinnacle in 2014 and 2019 at the expense of two of the league’s greatest dynasties.
Career regular season averages: 27.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.8 blocks
Career playoffs averages: 28.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, 7.2 assists, 1.7 steals, 1.0 blocks
Although LeBron James often draws flak for not being able to lead his team to the NBA championship more times than not in the NBA Finals, no one can take away his individual brilliance in the postseason. For one, he is the NBA’s leading scorer both in the All-Time scoring list and in the playoffs. Furthermore, he also ups his production during the playoffs on both ends of the floor to tally a total of four NBA championships and the same number of Finals MVPs with three different franchises.
Career regular season averages: 27.3 points, 7.1 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.1 steals, 1.1 blocks
Career playoffs averages: 29.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.0 steals, 1.2 blocks
Kevin Durant is one of the most unstoppable scorers in the league today. Although he received a lot of heat from critics after making the jump to the Warriors and failing to lead the Nets to a championship, there’s no question that Durant is an ultimate player even during the postseason. He increases his scoring production and becomes more aggressive on the offensive end by attempting more shots with 20.8 per game. With his scoring, Durant has a pair of NBA championships and Finals MVPs to his name.
Career regular season averages: 8.7 points, 7.2 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.0 blocks
Career playoffs averages: 11.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.4 blocks
It’s safe to say that Draymond Green is one of the best all-around players in the league today. But while he has been great for the Warriors all throughout, there’s no question that Green shines the brightest when it matters most. A nightmare on the defensive end and a great facilitator on the offensive side, Green played an instrumental role in helping the Warriors win four NBA championships.