Every postseason, there's a role player who surprises everyone by stepping up and contributing huge performances that help their team. Predicting who that role player will be isn't easy, but we asked our BasketballNews.com writers to give it a shot.
Which role player will elevate their game and make a big impact in the playoffs?
Alex Kennedy: Mikal Bridges could become a star, but he's still a role player for now so I'll go with him. The Phoenix Suns have their work cut out for them against the Los Angeles Lakers, and they'll need Bridges knocking down shots and playing solid defense if they want to take down L.A. In three games against the Lakers this season, Bridges averaged 14.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.7 threes, 1.0 block and just 1.0 turnover, while shooting a ridiculous 63.0% from the field, 45.5% from three and 100% from the free throw line. He's had a terrific season and he finds so many different ways to impact each game, so I can see him driving the Lakers crazy and having a coming-out party during this series. The 24-year-old has stepped up on big stages before, as he was a two-time NCAA champion while at Villanova.
Nekias Duncan: Dorian Finney-Smith may be Dallas' third-most important player in this series. He shot a career-high 39.4% from three (5.0 attempts), and I'm not sure defenses really care about him. Part of the reason the Clippers were okay with cross-matching with Kristaps Porzingis is that they're also content with Ivica Zubac "guarding" Finney-Smith. He'll have to make them pay with the three-ball to reconfigure those matchups.
Spencer Davies: I’ll pick one from each conference. In the Eastern Conference, let’s go with Reggie Bullock on the New York Knicks. Tom Thibodeau’s been able to rely on the eighth-year veteran in key moments due to his knockdown shooting and contributions on the defensive end. He can be a real difference-maker for that team. As for the Western Conference, Denver Nuggets point guard Monte Morris is going to be a calming influence on a squad who most believe is done for (due to the loss of Jamal Murray). Morris is a basketball savant, taking care of the ball and making unselfish decisions, but most importantly, hitting threes when his opportunities come. He’ll pick your pocket from time-to-time, too.