Every postseason there are players who make names for themselves with big shots and timely contributions. Daniel Gibson, Ben Gordon and J.R. Smith are guards that have made splashes, and in Gordon’s case, secured a big contract because of his playoff performances.
Sure these guards have been big, but despite the fact that undersized big-men usually get no love on Draft Day and fall to the second round, they are the ones who have proven to be the most valuable to teams making deep playoff runs. I left Chuck Hayes and Carl Landry off this list because I’m not convinced the Rockets will make the playoffs, and Paul Millsap didn’t make the cut because the Jazz are going to lose in the first round. Here are four undersized big men who will help their teams make deep playoff runs this year:
1. Leon Powe (Cavaliers) – 6-8, 240 pounds, 49th overall pick in 2006 NBA Draft
The guy has been injured all season and will be competing for playing time with Anderson Varejao and J.J. Hickson when he returns, but he will the Cavs X-factor this Spring. Celtics fans will never forget his 21-point performance in Game 2 of the 2008 Finals, which included 13 free throw attempts, as Powe beasted the entire Lakers frontcourt. Powe destroyed his knee last season, but he is clearly determined and can be huge for the Cavaliers when Varejao and Hickson show that they cannot be depended on in key situations.
2. Glen “The Gooch” Davis (Celtics) â€“ 6-9, 289 pounds, 35th overall pick in 2007 NBA Draft
The Gooch has quickly become a Celtics fan favorite and more justifiably so than Brian Scalabrine. The Celtics were depleted last playoffs, with Powe and Kevin Garnett out with injuries. The Celtics were lucky to make it past the Bulls in their epic first-round series win, and in hanging on for dear life in the Conference semis, Davis hit two key shots, including the mid-range buzzer beater that propelled him into a helpless fan. Davis is still a work in progress, but has proved that he can come up big for the Celtics. With it becoming more apparent every day that this is the last season the Big Three will be competing for another ring, Davis could be a big reason why they win or lose this year.
3. DeJuan Blair (Spurs) â€“ 6-7, 277 pounds, 37th overall pick in 2009 NBA Draft
ACL’s, who needs them? Blair became the second Spurs rookie to drop 20-20 in agame. The other? Tim Duncan. If you haven’t seen this yet, watch this breakdown of Blair’s 28-21 explosion against the Thunder. The Spurs rookie has manhandled every player the opposition has thrown his way, and has proved many GM’s wrong so far. The Spurs are coasting through the regular season as usual, waiting until the playoffs to start playing. Blair gives Gregg Popovich great options as he can either use McDyess to spread the floor and force teams to play him from 18 feet, or he could use Blair as a pure bruiser who has an array of post moves. Watch for Blair to contribute greatly to any success the Spurs may have in the playoffs this year.
4. Brandon Bass (Magic) â€“ 6-8, 250 pounds, 33rd overall pick in 2005 NBA Draft
Bass has been riding the pine all season, and his agent has recently said that he will push the Magic to trade Bass “if things keep going the way they are through the rest of the year.” It seems like GM Otis Thorpe has a vendetta against Mark Cuban, stealing both Bass and Gortat away from the Mavs only to keep them benched. I think Stan Van Gundy will realize soon enough that Bass and his monster arms could pair well with Dwight Howard to provide a double-edged post presence instead of running Rashard Lewis at the 4 every game.
What do you think? What other undersized big-men will be playoff X-factors? Who on this list will be the biggest X-factor?
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