It’s the best time of the year again; suns out, guns out, baby! But besides the weather changing, the NBA Playoffs are starting to get into full waltz. And in this year’s postseason, ex-Ducks are sprinkled throughout the league. It’s cool to see multiple Oregon Alums contributing to the highest level, particularly in a sport with minimal spots available. Here are three Ducks who’ve made their mark in this year’s playoffs.
1. Payton Pritchard
Pritchard was likely the x-factor that allowed the Boston Celtics to Sweep the Brooklyn Nets.
His first-half play in game three proved crucial; he scored 10 points before the break, which provided a nice spark off the bench.
Boston went on to win that game.
However, his most notable performance was in game two. With the Celtics trailing in the second half, he hit three big shots to spark the C’s to victory.
Now obviously, Jayson Tatum’s the star here, with Jaylen Brown playing second-in-command. And without stars, no winning shall occur.
But players like Pritchard usually prove vital come postseason. Players with high IQ, energy, and shot selection can free up the leader to play a more unselfish brand of basketball.
And it feels like Boston has built their team around this persona. Marcus Smart, Daniel Theis, and Al Horford fit this Rubik’s Cube.
It’s no easy task to Sweep Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, but back to Pritchard…
If he can continue to be a random scoring burst off the Celtics bench, they could make a run to the NBA Finals.
But maybe his scoring isn’t random. Just ask Washington.
2. Chris Boucher
It feels like Boucher may be the most overlooked Duck in the league. Yet he’s a solid role player on a playoff team. What gives?
Well, there are two tales here.
First, when compared with Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic, and Yao Ming, Boucher’s a scrub at best. He hasn’t started a playoff game this year.
On the other side of the candle, his 7-foot-4 wingspan, ability to run the floor, and occasional three-pointer could turn him into a future all-star.
And he’s shown glimpses of greatness.
In game two against the Philadelphia 76ers, he scored 17 points, grabbed eight rebounds, two blocks, and shot eight for 13 from the field.
In games three and four, his plus-minus was 13 and five, both season savers for the Toronto Raptors. Unfortunately, the 76ers permanently ended their season yesterday but still, an incredible run for Boucher.
3. Dillon Brooks
There’s no denying that the Memphis Grizzlies are all about Ja Morant. But every flash needs a little grind, and that’s exactly what Brooks provides.
On a team littered with good post defenders, he is the man on the wing. Really perimeter, but wing sounded better.
He is a hard-nosed, knock you down, and let you hear about it type of player. Much like Pritchard on the Celtics, Brooks embodies the Grizzlies brand of basketball.
But he adds a touch of scoring as well, well, maybe more than a touch
He scored 24 points in games one and four against the Minnesota Timberwolves. And during the regular season, he averaged 18.4 PPG.
If he can stay healthy, the combination of him, Morant, and Jaren Jackson Jr. could prove the best trio in the league for years to come.
But for now, they’re just gotta beat Minnesota.