The conference semifinals of the 2017 NBA Playoffs is in full swing, and as expected, a few names have stood out while leading their respective teams to a favorable standing.
LeBron James is being LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard is Kawhi-etly assuming the mantle of the league's best two-way player, Isaiah Thomas is turning into the biggest giant in the postseason, and the Golden State Warriors continue to annihilate everything in their path.
On the other hand, a handful of blue-chip performers who were expected to be vital cogs in their groups' quest to reach the promised land have done otherwise. Are we seeing a number of stars wilting under the pressure of the playoffs? You be the judge.
Round 2 average: 12 ppg
One could argue that the All-Star guard is just in a bit of a slump, but his numbers are unacceptable for his standards, especially that forgettable five points in a Game 2 blowout loss. Recall that DeRozan kicked off the season with five straight 30-point games, the first player since a certain Michael Jordan did so. The Canada-based squad will need more from their big-time scorer if they want to overcome a peaking LeBron James and co.
San Antonio Apurs
Round 2 average: 9.5 ppg
The otherworldly play of teammate Leonard makes everyone forget that the Spurs have another superstar in the fold. Once dropping back-to-back 40-point games with the Portland Trail Blazers, Aldridge is getting manhandled by Clint Capela, Nene, and even Ryan Anderson—not a single All-Star selection under their belts. This wasn't the idea of head coach Gregg Popovich when he sought the heir to Tim Duncan's throne.
Round 2 average: 4 ppg
All signs point to the Warriors blowing past the Jazz in their Western Conference semifinal matchup, which was typified by their Game 1 brilliance. If Utah hopes to make this one more than a snoozer for Golden State, their elite big men should take advantage of an opposing frontcourt that is basically made up of spare parts. And that must start with Favors, who has been his team's barometer versus the Los Angeles Clippers.
Round 2 average: 0 ppg
As much as starting point guard John Wall is ballin' out of his mind right now, the bench is key to the Wizards' success, which was evident in their regular season turnaround. Washington cannot afford to have its secondary playmaker laying goose eggs and a lone assist so far in the series. Don't be surprised that they are currently down 0-2 against the Boston Celtics, whose reserves are perfectly complementing Isaiah Thomas' offensive dominance.