The NBA playoffs are where basketball legends are made. During an 82-game regular season, plenty of players can put on superstar performances from time to time and showcase elite ability. However, the best NBA playoff performers — the players who can produce on the biggest stage when it matters like the postseason and NBA Finals — are the guys who will be remembered forever.
With that being said, for this piece, we take a look at the most clutch NBA playoff performers in the league today.
5. Damian Lillard
Lillard has appeared in 51 postseason games in his career. He has averages of 24.8 points.
In the 2014 playoffs, Lillard hit a game-winning, series-clinching triple at the buzzer in the first round against the Houston Rockets to send the Portland Trail Blazers to the Semifinals. That’s when he became known as a big-time NBA playoff performer.
Dame topped himself in the 2019 playoffs by making another game-winning, series-clinching shot against the Oklahoma City Thunder. However, this time, Lillard pulled up from almost half-court and hit the jumper right in Paul George’s grill. The superstar finished with 50 points in the said game.
4. Kyrie Irving
Uncle Drew has played in 52 postseason games with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics. He has averages of 23.5 points and 5.0 assists and is one of the most electric NBA playoff performers.
Irving hit the game-winning triple in the 2016 Finals over Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry during Game 7. Kyrie’s shot capped off the Cavs’ 3-1 series comeback, making them the first team in NBA history to erase a 3-1 series deficit in the Finals.
Irving scored 41 points in Game 5 of the series and finished the entire 2016 postseason with numbers of 25.2 points, 3.0 rebounds and 4.7 assists.
3. Kawhi Leonard
Leonard is a two-time Finals MVP and he won the award with two different teams. Kawhi captured his first Finals MVP in 2014 after the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Miami Heat. The California native won his second Finals MVP trophy in 2019 following the Toronto Raptors’ six-game series win over the Warriors.
Leonard has appeared in 111 postseason games with the Spurs and Raptors. He has playoff averages of 19.5 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists.
The two-time Defensive Player of the Year hit one of the biggest shots in playoff history during the 2019 postseason. Leonard sank a game-winning, series-clinching shot against the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 7 to send the Raptors to the Eastern Conference Finals.
2. Kevin Durant
KD has played in 139 playoff games with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Warriors. He’s a two-time champion and two-time Finals MVP.
Durant has postseason averages of 29.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists. He hit back-to-back daggers in the 2017 and 2018 Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers from almost half-court.
If you need a bucket, especially when the game slows down in the half-court during postseason action, Durant is the perfect guy to have on your team. He can shoot over anyone and score from anywhere on the court. Put simply, he’s a human cheat code.
1. LeBron James
The King has played in 239 playoff games with the Cavs and Miami Heat. He’s a three-time champion and three-time Finals MVP.
LeBron has postseason averages of 28.9 points, 8.9 rebounds and 7.1 assists. He’s the definition of being a clutch NBA playoff performer. His block on Warriors forward Andre Iguodala in Game 7 of the 2016 Finals will be talked about forever.
As mentioned earlier, James and the Cavs defeated the 73-9 Warriors in historic fashion.