The Historic NBA 2021 Playoffs May Have Been More Impactful Than You Think

  • July 21, 2021, 11:01 PM
  • Chris Johnson
The Historic NBA 2021 Playoffs May Have Been More Impactful Than You Think Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports General View of the Fiserv Forum Scoreboard right before game three of the NBA Finals between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Phoenix Suns

This year’s NBA playoffs surely will go down in the history books, more than most. 

Tons upon tons of records were broken or tied. Some NBA players cemented their names into NBA history, while others showed that their time is now and that they could be the new faces of the league.

First, you can’t ignore the complete and utter domination that Giannis Antetokounmpo showed during this playoff run. He averaged thirty points, ten rebounds, five assists, one block, and one steal while shooting at least sixty percent from the field, becoming the only one in NBA history to do that.

He also became the third player to ever have an MVP award, a DPOY award, and a Finals MVP in NBA history, joining Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon. On top of that, he also became the only player to have a Most Improved Player award, an MVP, a DPOY, and a Finals MVP. 

Giannis showed he is making a case as the best player in the league, and the beginning of his case for goat status. Yet another few young players showed they will be making noise for a while in this league for example:

*All averages are in the playoffs*

Luka Doncic averaged 35.7 points 10.7 assists 7.9 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game 

Trae Young averaged 28.8 points 9.5 assists 2.4 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game

Devin Booker 27.3 points 4.5 assists 5.6 rebounds .8 steals per game

Jayson Tatum 30.6 points 4.6 assists 5.8 rebounds 1.2 steals and 1.6 blocks per game

Joel Embiid 28.1 points 3.4 assists 10.5 rebounds 1 steals and 1.5 blocks per game

Donovan Mitchell 32.3 points 5.5 assists 4.2 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game 

For comparison, Giannis Antetokounmpo averaged 30.2 points 5.1 assists 12.8 rebounds 1 steal, and block per game. All of these players are twenty-six years old or younger, and only two of them just played in their first ever playoffs (Trae Young and Devin Booker). Damian Lillard also set an NBA record of 12 three-pointers in a playoff game, and somehow lost in overtime by 7 points. 

These young players show that the league is in good hands, when our current legends decide to lace up their shoes for the last time. Yet, that’s not all that was impressive this year.

Teams like the Los Angeles Clippers and the Milwaukee Bucks accomplished something that had never been done in NBA history - both coming back from 0-2 deficits in one playoff run. Then, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat got bounced out of the playoffs in the first round, making it the third time ever both NBA Finalists from the previous season lost in the first round the following year (the last time that happened was in 2007). This year’s Conference Finals featured three teams that had not won a championship in their history, and a team that had not won it all in 50 years (Milwaukee in 1971).  

Also, this year was the first time since 1999 that the Finals would not feature the Lakers, Heat, Golden State Warriors, or the San Antonio Spurs. It was also the first Finals since 1999 that did not feature LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Stephen Curry, Tim Duncan, or the late great Kobe Bryant. 

If this year couldn’t get crazier, LeBron James lost in the first round for the first time in his career. James did accomplish one feat this postseason. He became the only player in the history of the league to be in the playoff top 10 lists in all five major stat categories, (first in points, second in assists, sixth in rebounds, first in steals, and tenth in blocks).

Even though the 2021 playoffs are over, history is just beginning to be made. If you want to see more future stars be born into the league, watch the NBA Draft, Thursday, July 29th at 5 p.m. PST.

Chris Johnson

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