The Starting Five: Playoff Wild Cards



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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The start of the NBA playoffs is just days away and that’s always a signal for superstars to ready themselves to step into the spotlight on the game’s biggest stage.

It’s also the time for those unsuspecting guys, the unsung contributors on playoff teams from throughout the league, to raise their level of play with their respective seasons on the line. We like to call them Hang Time’s Playoff Wild Cards, guys who will impact their teams and potentially the outcomes of their respective team’s first round series.

The Starting Five of HT’s Playoff Wild Cards Team (and just like Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, we don’t get caught up in positions. We’re going with the best five Wild Cards):

JEREMY LIN, PG, HOUSTON ROCKETS

By now Rockets fans know that the star point guard they snatched away from New York last summer is not the same guy who inspired Linsanity. What they’ve got is a guy who is much steadier and just as productive, statistically, through 82 games with the Rockets (13.4 ppg, 6.0 apg and 3.0 rpg) as he was in 25 games with the Knicks (14.6, 6.2 and 3.1). What makes Lin a Wild Card is knowing that he’s capable of getting on the kind of roll that created the Linsanity phenomenon. The right matchup in the playoffs could be all he needs to morph back into the player we saw during his magical ride in New York.

DANNY GREEN, SG, SAN ANTONIO SPURS

Green is easily overlooked on a team with superstars like Tony Parker and even Tim Duncan who are often foolishly overlooked by the masses when the conversation turns to the true superstars in the league. What cannot (and should not) be overlooked is Green’s season-long penchant for taking and making big shots, not to mention his 43 percent shooting (for the second straight season, mind you) from beyond the 3-point line. Green is the beneficiary of defensive attention being paid to Parker and Duncan, and he takes full advantage of defender’s inattention to detail all the time.

JEFF GREEN, SF, BOSTON CELTICS

If the Jeff Green that showed up after All-Star weekend is the same Jeff Green that shows up for the playoffs, the Celtics will be one of the postseason’s most dangerous lower seeds. Green has averaged 17.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg and 2.7 apg in 34.1 minutes a night since the break (compared to the 10.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg and 1.0 apg he posted in 24.6 minutes before the break). Green has the size, athleticism and skill on both ends of the floor to battle elite small forwards. The Celtics need him to do it every night in the postseason.

JIMMY BUTLER, SF,  CHICAGO BULLS

In a season when Derrick Rose‘s supporting cast has been under scrutiny every single night, Butler has shined in his opportunities to contribute, particularly on the defensive side of things. He’s the battled the likes of LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony and more than held his own in those matchups. Some young players struggle with a sudden increase in minutes, many of them spent in different roles. But not Butler. The more he’s played the better he’s played, giving Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau yet another rugged contributor on a team filled with them. If Butler continues to score the way he has recently (15.6 ppg on 53 percent shooting in his last five games), he’ll have an even greater impact than expected in the playoffs.

COREY BREWER, SF, DENVER NUGGETS

This Wild Card thing is easy for Brewer. He does it daily for a talented and deep Nuggets team that has thrived all season by unleashing that depth on the opposition. What makes Brewer so effective in this role is his non-stop motor, his activity on both ends of the floor, his ability to shoot it from distance and the fact that he finishes at the rim and in transition. It’s pretty remarkable considering he doesn’t appear to have gained a single pound since middle school (we’re joking here). Brewer averages 12.2 ppg without any plays being called for him … ever. He should have “Wild Card” stitched across the back of his jersey instead of “Brewer.”

We’ve got our Starting Five Playoff Wild Cards.

Who are yours?


21 Comments

  1. Jimmy Buckets says:

    JIMMMMAYYYY!!!!

  2. Kamote says:

    Mine:

    Center: Dwight Howard – I know he shouldn’t be considered here because much is expected of him when the year started. But after all LAL disappointments, to Kobe being out, this is Howard’s team right now. Though most of the offense should go with Nash and Pau, DH has to remain the anchor of this team.

    PF: Kenneth Faried – Though Denver’s balanced attack is their strongest suit, the motor of Faried is what’s keeping them running. Now with Galo out, and the playoffs now being more focused on defense and getting possessions, Faried’s value would be needed more by the Nuggets.

    SF: Tracy McGrady – Call me crazy, but TMac’s presence in the playoffs has gotten everything interesting in the LAL-SAS duel. With most of the players of San Antonio injured, and with a young Green and the ousting of Stephen Jackson, TMac already has that big chip on his shoulder fresh from his last days in Houston. There’s also this one thing that he hasn’t been out of the first round and blame may be put on him jinxing SAS for un upset, but no one had this type of opportunity to put that to rest. Talk about a grand comeback huh?

    SG: Jason Terry – Despite all the disappointments he’s brought to Boston, we all know that its the playoffs that gets Terry going. Without a legit PG, Terry still has that opportunity to bring his game back and just help the C’s. The only chance for Boston to pull an upset against NY would be him doing what he does best.

    PG: Nash – Finally, Nash has the ball in his hands. With a talented big man in Pau, a dominant post player in DH, and a slew of shooters, Nash can (hopefully) turn this thing around for LAL. Of course their team is slower than his Sun’s and their defense is atrocious, but with SAS dealing with injuried, Nash might be able to pull an upset against his nemesis.

  3. justsaying says:

    I’ll be interested to see what Billups can bring to the table for the Clips. He hasn’t played many min this season but has looked sharp when on-court. And they need his consistency if they’re going to advance, as their starting unit gets stagnant in the halfcourt too often.

  4. skunk says:

    manu ginobili

  5. Jeff Green all day on the Green Machine-done great considering heart surgery barely a year ago-no excuses just the truth-he’s progressed a lot further & quicker than most for that condition! Bigups to Jeff!
    CELTICS-HORAAH-UBUNTU!!!

  6. Denzo says:

    nate robinson.

  7. D-ROc says:

    It’s nice to see Corery Brewer have such an outstanding year after seeing him suffer through constant injuries in his days with Minnesota. So happy for him, even though he couldn’t stay long enough with my Knicks to make an impact.

  8. kai says:

    no Nate?

  9. Uhr-Pacers Bad Boys says:

    I think Asik for rockets is a wild card, he showed some defensive skill against likes of Duncan and ıf he can step up and they match-up with spurs it will be very interesting series to watch also funny.

  10. NY Vlad says:

    in the east its every teams starting point guard….other than brooklyn and milwakee

  11. Kady says:

    Ray Allen? Chris Andersen? Shane Battier? Anyone on the Heat who can solidify their perimeter presence and/or defend opponents’ star players.

  12. jimmy says:

    lol @ that starting 5

  13. Jonas says:

    The guy I would add is Chris Copeland. He probably won’t get alot of minutes in the Playoffs, but if the Knicks need an unexpected boost, he’d be the guy (34 points as a rookie is remarkable). If he got the minutes, I’d say he could even compete for ROY.

  14. Shirley (B-U6) Nat says:

    Obviously first is Kevin Martin- the difference in his stats in OKC’s losses and wins is just startling.

    Roy Hibbert- Has improved play since All-Star break- has the potential to do some real damage to some of the other undersized East teams.

    Noah- purely based on whether he will be able to play at full fitness or not. His rugged play relies on his body being in peak condition.

    Jarret Jack/ Nate Robinson- Both Can be a real sparkplugs at times- but can they bring that game into the slower paced playoffs.

    Finally Dwight Howard (conditonal on Lakers making the playoffs) this choice speaks for itself after the Kobe injury. Can he establish a pick and roll game with Nash in under a week?

    ________________________________

  15. Romeo says:

    Jeff Green is the best of the bunch, he can definitely be an impact player on any night. If Boston had Rondo, they would be a team that could easily match up with Miami. Im not saying beat Miami, but contend indeed.

  16. Nashty says:

    im going with;

    Stephen curry, he is already avg 23 ppg but hes a shooter he can come off with 6-7 3 pointers plus klay thompson surprising the top seed team and surprising and make it a very difficult 1st round matchup for the top seed.
    Klay Thompson, same as Curry
    Evan Fournier, with the injuries he is going to start games and the last 3 games he did it well, not a guy who plays physical but with quite european moves and good shootinh ability
    Jimmy Butler, he’s doing it good, in both ends of the floor he cant guard lebron, but to end the hheat streak he stopped dwade
    Corey Brewer, he’s 6 ft 9 and he waighs as a 6 ft 0 guy, extremely fast plays denver game, and easily can go from 2 points to 20 points

    • Wrong says:

      The topic is “Wild Cards.” Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are both expected to do well, they are not under the wild card group.

  17. Gary says:

    Thanks writer , bout time Jimmy Buckets *Butler gets national recognition, along with his stats he’s put up POSTER Dunks on alley oops along with sensational ball handling and decision making. He’s a star in the making, Look for him staying healthy and in the highlight reels for years to come!!! GO BULLS!!!

  18. Wes says:

    Why is Brewer not considered on any 6th man list?????