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#pounditSaturday, August 8, 2020

5 NBA players who can lead their teams to the title

Giannis Antetokounmpo

The NBA playoffs are often full of remarkable performances, with one player taking over a game and dragging his team over the line. After all, we’ve seen it plenty of times over the year, from Michael Jordan to Kobe Bryant to LeBron James and many more.

Who are those players now? Here are five who could, if they take over a game or series, be good enough to lead their team to the NBA Finals — and even win a championship when the season resumes in Orlando this summer.

5. Jayson Tatum, Celtics

This could be a breakout postseason for Tatum, who has quickly turned into an NBA All-Star. Tatum has averaged 17.4 points per game in his playoff career, but the young forward should be capable of much more now. His 23.6 points per game in the regular season this year are easily a career best, and he can take over games. If Tatum carries his regular season play into the playoffs, the Celtics will have the chance to go very far.

4. James Harden, Rockets

Harden’s inability to deliver in the clutch for the Rockets has been well-documented. Maybe things can be different this year. Harden has Russell Westbrook to play off of in the backcourt, which could relieve some of the pressure. It’s indisputable that when Harden is on, he can take over a game. That just hasn’t happened in the playoffs. He averaged over 30 in the postseason for the first time in 2019, so perhaps he’s starting to figure something out.

3. Paul George, Clippers

Kawhi Leonard is a Finals MVP and big-game player. He’s certainly capable of leading the Clippers to the promised land. More under the radar but just as capable is Paul George, who shares a lot of Leonard’s strengths. A quality defender, good outside shooter, and a forward who can score in bunches, George has put in big-time playoff performances before with the Indiana Pacers. If he starts scoring 25 or 30 points per game in the playoffs, he can really carry the Clippers.

2. Anthony Davis, Lakers

The Lakers got Davis to win in the playoffs. It’s that simple. We know LeBron James is capable of single-handedly carrying a team very far — he did it for the Cleveland Cavaliers in his final season there. James hasn’t had a running mate as good as Davis since he was with the Miami Heat. Davis’ production hasn’t been harmed by playing with James, as he’s still averaging nearly 27 points per game. He’s a dominant force in the post for whom few playoff teams have a match.

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks

It’s time for Giannis to take over. Now that he’s established himself as one of the NBA’s biggest stars, he needs to deliver the big playoff performances to match. He’s certainly capable, as he’s averaging 29.6 points and 13.7 rebounds per game. His playoff numbers finally started to look similar in 2019 until the Bucks ran into the Raptors. Antetokounmpo’s Bucks can reach and win the NBA Finals, but he has to put the team on his back. The stakes for he Bucks may be very high.

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