During the early years of the 2010s, LeBron James and Stephen Curry were always the dominant names in the competitive arena of the NBA. The showdown between these two has brought one of the most iconic and memorable finals in the tournament’s history.
However, as we entered the 2020s, different faces have emerged to challenge the status quo. From the Miami Heat in 2020 to the Boston Celtics in 2022. Nevertheless, only one time has the championship belonged to a name other than the two aforementioned stars when Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Milwaukee Bucks to grasp the coveted ring in 2021.
Now, as both Stephen Curry and LeBron James are in the twilight years of their peak playing careers, fans are expecting other names to step up and become a force to be reckoned with in the NBA arena.
Among them, there are many players who consistently perform well for the majority of the season. However, they still lack a championship or at least a standout performance in the playoffs to prove themselves.
Here are some players who are expected to make an impact and shine in the NBA Playoffs 2023.
Joel Embiid – Philadelphia 76ers
Joel Embiid has always been a prized star for the Philadelphia 76ers as well as in the NBA arena. In the past 3 years, the Cameroonian star has consistently been in the running for the MVP (Most Valuable Player) award.
He has a good chance of winning the award in the 2022/2023 season, as he averaged 33.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 4.2 assists in the Regular Season. It’s no surprise that the Philadelphia 76ers have high expectations for Joel Embiid on their journey to conquer the coveted championship ring.
However, Joel Embiid has often failed to live up to expectations in do-or-die playoff games. In fact, the Cameroonian star has never even made it to the Eastern Conference finals, let alone the NBA Finals.
Playing under the pressure of one of the most passionate fan bases in the world in Philadelphia only adds more pressure to Joel Embiid’s shoulders. However, this is the time for him to mature and lead the Philadelphia 76ers to the pinnacle of glory.
James Harden – Philadelphia 76ers
Like Joel Embiid, James Harden is also under a lot of pressure at the Philadelphia 76ers. The shooting guard born in 1989 arrived at Wells Fargo Center with high expectations for a partnership with Joel Embiid on this team.
At the Philadelphia 76ers, James Harden has accepted giving up his role as a scoring star as he did in his time playing for the Houston Rockets. He plays more towards supporting his teammates like Joel Embiid or Tyrese Maxey.
However, fans still expect a James Harden who is ready to shine when the team needs it most. In reality, he is also one of the rare names to have experienced the atmosphere of an NBA Finals, wearing the jersey of the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012.
Those are extremely valuable experiences that James Harden can use to help the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA Playoffs 2023.
Chris Paul – Phoenix Suns
Chris Paul is one of the few remaining classic point guards in the NBA. However, he has yet to win a championship. His best chance came in 2021 when the Phoenix Suns fell to the Milwaukee Bucks.
At 37 years old, Chris Paul doesn’t have many chances left. In the 2022/2023 season, the Phoenix Suns have made a significant addition to their roster in the form of Kevin Durant. It can be said that Chris Paul and the Phoenix Suns are in a “now or never” situation.
For Chris Paul, his leadership and ability to control the tempo of the game will be a crucial factor for the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Playoffs this year.
Nikola Jokic – Denver Nuggets
For Nikola Jokic, he has been the best player in the NBA for the past 2 years and is on his way to his third consecutive MVP award. His strategic vision, excellent passing ability, and all-around center skills have made him one of the most complete players in the NBA.
However, despite his impressive performance in the regular season, Nikola Jokic has not been able to shine too much in the playoffs. Nonetheless, there are objective reasons why he has never had the best teammates in previous seasons due to injuries.
In the 2022/2023 season, Nikola Jokic is improving himself day by day and his teammates are also in great form. Fans are hoping that the Serbian star will lead the Denver Nuggets to the NBA championship.
In conclusion, the NBA Playoffs are always an exciting time for basketball fans around the world. The 2022-2023 season promises to be no exception, with many talented and experienced players looking to make their mark on the biggest stage of them all. From veterans like LeBron James and Chris Paul to rising stars like Luka Doncic and Zion Williamson, there will be no shortage of thrilling moments and unforgettable performances. Only time will tell which team and player will emerge as champions, but one thing is for sure: the 2022-2023 NBA Playoffs are set to be an unforgettable spectacle of athleticism, skill, and heart.