The 1st Round of the NBA playoffs have been electric so far in 2023, and it will only get crazier as teams advance to the next few rounds. Guys like Jimmy Butler, LeBron James, Steph Curry, and others have obviously shown out – but there have been a ton of underrated or even surprise playoff performers thus far. Below are four guys who have stood out and deserve some serious praise.
Torrey Craig – Phoenix Suns
It’s no secret the Suns have been leaning HEAVILY on their top 4 players in Booker, Durant, Paul, and Ayton while hoping for any production from others. Depth has been a huge topic of discussion in Phoenix and Torrey Craig has stepped up to alleviate some of those worries.
Craig has been a perfect fit next to KD and Ayton in the starting lineup, spacing the floor and hustling all over the court. Averaging 15.5 PPG, 4 RPG, and 67/56/89 shooting splits (!!!), Craig has been killing it as an ideal 3&D fit within the Suns playoff lineup.
Duncan Robinson – Miami Heat
The Tyler Herro injury seemed like a death sentence for the Heat since it thrust Duncan Robinson back into the rotation, but Robinson has found his bubble shooting and emerged as one of the few offensive weapons in Miami.
Robinson has been shooting an absurd 76.5% from 3 in this 1st Round series against the Bucks on pretty high volume since it’s the only shot he’ll really take. With Robinson spreading the floor and providing that versatile action off of the Adebayo dribble hand-off, the Heat have found some old offensive wrinkles that have helped support Jimmy Butler and his historic play.
Isaiah Hartenstein – New York Knicks
The Cavaliers have a near-elite frontcourt but the physical play from Mitchell Robinson and Isaiah Hartenstein have given the Knicks an advantage in this series. While Hartenstein’s numbers haven’t been eye-opening or anything like that, his contested rebounding, rim protection, and overall hustle jump off the screen and you can feel his impact on the court.
Hartenstein is only playing 22 MPG so far this series but his physicality and hustle has given Cleveland fits and has been a perfect bench player for this gritty New York team.
Kevon Looney – Golden State Warriors
The Golden State headlines are generally about Steph, Klay, Draymond, or Poole. But the play of Kevon Looney has been insanely important for the Warriors. His ability to set incredible screens for these shooters is vital to the way Steve Kerr likes to play but the rebounding and overall team-first mentality of Looney sticks out.
The 27 year old has stuffed the stat sheet so far in this Kings series with 6.5 PPG, 12.5 RPG, and 4.5 APG while also giving Sabonis fits as his primary defender. Everyone loves to talk about the shooting of the Warriors, and rightfully so, but Looney’s play has been huge for Golden State as well.