Deep Impact: The Players Under the Most Pressure in the NBA Playoffs

  • Blake Griffin

    Jordan Brand

    8. Blake Griffin

    It is time for the Clippers to prove that they are a great team. The reason they brought in Doc Rivers was to win the NBA championship. That is the only reason. The Clippers core team hasn’t changed much over the last couple of seasons, with the staple players being Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, and of course, Blake Griffin. Blake has been under scrutiny — since he joined the league — for being too soft. It is time to prove the haters wrong. If the Clippers are going to make a deep run in the playoffs, it needs to start with Blake taking his game to new heights. It is time for the 5x NBA All-Star to elevate his play and prove to the world that he can help his team win a championship.

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  • John Wall

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    7. John Wall

    One of my buddies from college works for the Washington Wizards and promised me years ago that John Wall would be a top-5 point guard in the NBA. You could make a strong case that John Wall is now a top-5 point guard in the league. Without a doubt, top eight. Either way, it is time John Wall steps up and does his dance all the way the to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Wizards aren’t the most talented team in the East; everyone knows that. They do, however, have a young, hungry point guard who was second in the league with 10 assists per game. The pressure is on and the time is now, Mr. Wall.

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  • Stephen Curry

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    6. Stephen Curry

    Championship or bust. That is the attitude the Golden State Warriors need to have going into the playoffs. They are the best team in league, led by a 27-year-old, baby-faced shooting monster.

    The Warriors are a very good team. Klay Thompson scoring 37 points in a quarter might be the most impressive in-game performance in basketball history. And Curry? The best part about Curry’s play is that he makes everything look easy. He thrives under pressure. Anybody remember that March Madness run he had at Davidson? Yes, that was sick. The pressure is certainly on for the current 3-point champion, but Steph is cooler than cool so it should be one exciting run for the Warriors.

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  • Dwight Howard

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    5. Dwight Howard

    I’m not even sure where to start with Dwight Howard. He single-handedly helped the Magic reach the 2009 NBA Finals with his stellar defensive and offensive play. The series wasn’t ever really in question, though, with the Magic losing in five games. Like Blake Griffin, Dwight has gotten a ton of heat for being too soft in this league. His little stint with the Lakers certainly didn’t help his cause.

    James Harden is a bonafide star. Dwight needs to be his Robin. If the Rockets have any chance at making a deep run in this year’s playoffs, Dwight Howard needs to dominate on the offensive end, be a beast on defense, and play the role of team bully. Stop smiling Dwight, and start getting angry.

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  • Derrick Rose

    adidas Hoops

    4. Derrick Rose

    Hopefully, the pressure Derrick Rose is feeling isn’t in his knees. Too soon? Fair enough. Derrick Rose will be under pressure for the rest of his career due to his unfortunate run with injuries. The NBA is a better sport when this man is healthy and on the court. It is just that simple. He brings excitement to the game and has a knack for being the best player on the court no matter who his team is playing.

    The Bulls signed Pau Gasol in the offseason to make a championship run. They have their MVP point guard, their All-Star swingman, and experienced bigs. It is now time to give Cleveland a run for their money. If D-Rose can stay healthy, the Bulls are a scary playoff threat.

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  • James Harden

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    3. James Harden

    James Harden definitely deserves this spot, especially for his play or lack thereof in his previous playoff performances. Harden’s regular season success hasn’t translated into the playoffs. His shaky championship performance in 2012 was a major reason why many didn’t believe he could be a No. 1 option.

    But Harden blew away the competition this year with over 300 more points than any other player. This is the best season of his career and it is time for him to prove he is on the elite superstar level. For the Rockets, anything short of a championship is a wasted season. All the pressure falls on this man’s shoulders. Let’s see how he handles it.

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  • LeBron James

    Nike Basketball

    2. LeBron James

    There will be pressure on LeBron James until the day he retires from the NBA, for as many fans as LeBron James has, he has twice as many haters and doubters. The LeBron x Kobe x Jordan debate is a great one, but will not be answered until the day both of those guys retire.

    ‘Bron has the potential to be the greatest player of all time. The way to measure success in the league is by the amount of rings you have. LeBron has two and needs at least three more to even be mentioned in the same sentence as MJ. He is an amazing and unique talent, but needs more rings. Let’s see if he can accomplish what he set out to do by coming back to Cleveland.

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  • Chris Paul

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    1. Chris Paul

    The man with the most pressure to perform this postseason is my man, Chris Paul. He has been arguably the best point in the NBA since he joined the league in 2005. CP3 is an 8-time all-star, a 4-time All-NBA First Teamer, and a defensive monster. It is time for the Clippers to do some damage in the playoffs. It is time for Chris Paul to prove that he is worthy of being called the best point guard in the league. It is time for L.A. to get another championship banner. CP3, the entire world is waiting.

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  • Blake Griffin
  • John Wall
  • Stephen Curry
  • Dwight Howard
  • Derrick Rose
  • James Harden
  • LeBron James
  • Chris Paul

It certainly isn’t easy to be a professional athlete. You have to entertain hundreds of thousands of people on a nightly basis. I feel the pressure in my weekly basketball league. I couldn’t imagine the pressure these guys feel in Game 7 of an NBA championship series.

The Spurs are coming off of an impressive NBA Finals in which they beat LeBron’s Miami Heat 4-1 and silenced a few demons from the year prior. But this year who knows who will win the ship? There are a handful of great teams that have an opportunity to compete in this year’s Finals. Out of the East you have the Hawks, Cavs, and Bulls (depending on Derrick Rose) that could all make a deep run while every team in the West could make a surprising path to the Finals. My prediction is Cavs versus the Clippers, with the Cavs winning in six games.

The pressure turns way up once the playoffs begin. The playoffs is where bench players become heroes, stars become superstars, and coaches become geniuses. Here at The Drop we decided to come up with a list of the Players Under the Most Pressure in the NBA Playoffs. Most of the players on the list are the leaders of their respective team, with the end goal of the season being a championship ring. Who will hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy? Who will crumble under pressure? Only time will tell. Either way, scroll through the list and see for yourself.

Follow Jason on Twitter at @imfitterthanyou

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