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Missing In Action: In the modern NBA, these players have disappeared in the most important stretch of a season

Going into another year, playoff-aspiring teams and players have one thing in mind: a championship. Come playoff time, a player could either step up or fall down hard. For these players, the postseason hasn't been that kind to them.
Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan

Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan

The NBA Playoffs are what every NBA fan awaits for every season. The competition definitely rises up, as well as some heated rivalries between teams. For most players, this is their chance to show what they can do in the brightest moments; to either secure a contract or get more recognition and playing time. For these players, the postseason has somehow become their Kryptonite in their careers.

DeMar DeRozan

Without a doubt, DeMar has been one of those players that are heavily criticized by the media for his lack of winning aspirations come playoff time. Not merely due to the fact that he went against one of the best in LeBron James again and again; but also to the lack of spirit shown once games are lost.

DeRozan, 33, has shown how capable he is during the regular season. But given the measures, like how the Toronto Raptors decided, he's just not built to bring you home a title. DeMar has averaged 21.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 3.7 assists through 63 games of playoff basketball in his career.

DeMar, through his seven stints in the postseason, has a .397 winning percentage in the playoffs, according to StatMuse. The box score also doesn't seem to be friends with DeMar as he has the lowest career plus/minus in the playoffs by any NBA player at -371.

While stats don't tell the whole story; it's clear that an All-Star player in DeRozan should understand the ropes of the playoffs by now. Talented players are going to come in and show what they've got, whether it's on the offensive end, or the defensive end opposite of DeRozan.

James Harden

Now The Beard, is hands down, one of the best shooting guards that have played the game. But if there's one thing that's apparent, playoff basketball has never been his strong suit.

Similar to DeRozan's case, James Harden has been extremely good in the regular season. The problem isn't only how he matches up against tyrants per se, but also his lack of dedication in recent years (although that may change for the most part this year; we'll see).

Through 149 games in the Playoffs, Harden has averaged 22.9 points, 6.2 assists, and 5.5 rebounds. Though having great games here and there, Harden's toughest games seem to come from his inconsistencies as a star player for his teams. Although being young and a little inexperienced in his first and only finals appearance, Harden's production seemingly disappeared from the picture, according to a former teammate in Kendrick Perkins.

As a recent example, Harden scored 25 points on 22 field goal attempts in the final two games against Miami last postseason, which led to the Sixers' demise. Now, this doesn't mean James Harden is one of the worst playoff performers the game has ever seen. No, his consistency as a Star option in the postseason has terribly dragged down the narratives of his playoff heroics in some scenarios.

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Kyle Lowry

Yes, I am aware that Kyle Lowry is an NBA Champion. But that one championship run doesn't excuse his inconsistencies in some playoff situations in recent years. The 36-year-old Lowry has seen his decline in the last few seasons.

In 107 playoff games, Lowry has tallied 14.8 points, 5.7 assists, and 4.5 rebounds. His best production came in his first postseason with Toronto, but his highest plus/minus record came when the Raptors won the title.

Now Lowry has had some good playoff games throughout his career, but he's had one successful run and the rest was short as they come. His 3-Point field goal percentage dips down to 33% when in the playoffs and his latest outing with the Miami Heat may have just shown how age has contributed to his decline averaging just eight points in ten games played.

In retrospect, Lowry has had his share of bad shooting nights along with his former running mate in DeRozan when it comes to the postseason, especially in occasional game ones for Lowry. His bad shooting outings during the postseason may have had a hand in his scoreless outings which led to his team's early exits come playoff time.

Ben Simmons

Simmons, 26, has only seen the light of postseason basketball thrice, excluding this season when he didn't suit up for the Brooklyn Nets. In the 34 games he played during the playoffs, he tallied 14 points, 8 rebounds, and about 7.5 assists per game.

His infamous meltdown with the Sixers in the 2021 playoffs has still been the talk of the town. His mental capacity for high-stakes games has yet to see its improvement, proven by the meltdown against the Hawks in the 2021 playoffs.

In that postseason, Simmons only shot 34% from the free throw line. We all know the Sixers trusted him for his defense and playmaking, but as proven by that failure, you really got to have shooting to fit in this era.

Simmons' game won't just work without the aid of outside shooting, heck even free throw shooting. All the drama outside works just fine, as long as you got the game to back it up. So far, Ben Simmons hasn't backed it up in the highest stakes of basketball.

Lou Williams

Alright, alright, Lou Williams may be the fish out of the water here, but trust me when I say this, his playoff appearances have been disastrous. The 35-year-old is currently a free agent, and after rumors of retiring after last season, he is not ruling out signing with a team this season.

One of the game's best sixth men, Williams had been very productive during the regular seasons in his career. Can't say the same for the postseason as in his 17-year career, he's been to the playoffs ten times and averaged 11.4 points, 2.8 assists, and 2.2 rebounds while shooting 40% from the field and 28% from three, yikes.

Not to say Williams is expected to be the star of a team or anything, but for a player whose bread and butter is scoring, you have to expect more. Him being a defensive liability might be a bigger issue too, as combined with his poor performances, he's a matchup nightmare, for his own team.

His career might be on a slow decline since the whole Magic City thing in the Bubble season, but Williams has shown his ability to contribute when needed. Needless to say, he'll still be one of the veterans' teams look to add for next season.


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