The first round of the NBA playoffs is well underway, and we are noticing excellent play from young players with little to no playoff experience. The common belief among some is that young players don’t help you win in the playoffs. That’s not true, and we are seeing examples of it this postseason.
Which young players are playing well, and can it continue?
Tyrese Maxey, Philadelphia 76ers
The 76ers lead the Toronto Raptors 3-0 in their best-of-seven first-round series. Maxey in his second season in the league, and is a key piece to the 76ers’ title hopes.
Through three games (small sample size, but that’s the playoffs) he is averaging 26 points on 60/47/100 shooting splits. He is the team’s second-leading scorer, and his ability to get into the paint and score at the rim is critical to the team’s offense.
Jordan Poole, Golden State Warriors
The Warriors are up 3-0 in their best-of-seven series against the Denver Nuggets. Poole, a third-year player, has scored a combined 86 points in his first three playoff games. That’s the second-most in franchise history.
Through three games he is averaging 28 points on absurd 66/59/81 shooting splits. His eFG% is a ridiculous 82.1. The Warriors new “death lineup” featuring Poole, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, and Draymond Green is a nightmare to defend.
JORDAN POOLE, WHAT A FINISH 😤 pic.twitter.com/qGVs78PZ9K
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) April 22, 2022
Desmond Bane, Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies came back from a 26-point deficit to defeat the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday, to take a 2-1 lead in their best-of-seven series. These are two of the youngest teams in the league and they have players that are really stepping up.
Bane, a two-year pro, set the Grizzlies franchise record for most three-pointers in a playoff game after he went 7-of-15. He finished the game with 26 points, and is shooting 40 percent from three in this series.
Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves
The “Ant Man” is 20 years old and in his second season in the league. He is averaging 25 points on 48/40/81 shooting splits in this series. Edwards has the ultimate confidence and is unafraid.
In Game 1 of this series he finished with 36 points, six assists, two blocks, and a steal in a win. His 36 points are tied for the third-most in a postseason debut.
"I actually feel like I'm the best defender in the NBA" 👀
— 𝙏𝙖𝙡𝙠𝙞𝙣’ 𝙉𝘽𝘼 (@_Talkin_NBA) April 18, 2022
Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies
Statistically Morant is playing below his season averages through the first three games of the playoffs. He had an excellent Game 2, but struggled to score efficiently in Game 3. Despite that he managed to impact the game in a positive way.
Morant finished with a triple double, 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. As the Grizzlies mounted their ferocious comeback he started off ball on many possessions, and when it swung back to him he could attack the gaps in the Wolves’ defense.
Yep @JaMorant had an ugly shooting night. Body was all over the floor. Turnovers. But I swear I watched him never stop fighting & grinding for it in this Game 3. Kept attacking. Affected game in multiple ways outside points. Still had a triple double.Put pressure on the D. Heart!
— Ros Gold-Onwude (@ROSGO21) April 22, 2022
Will the young players continue to play well?
As you go deeper in the playoffs it only gets harder. Your competition improves and it forces you to elevate your game. All of these reference points are good for these young players.
They will play well at times and they’ll also struggle. But the lessons learned will be invaluable.