The Superstars: Headlining the stars of the playoffs thus far, you have to mention LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. Both players led their teams to easy first round victories either by sweeping the first round (Cavs) or dropping just one game on the round on a desperation last second shot by Deron Williams (Lakers). James leads the NBA playoffs in scoring at 32 per game while Kobe has averaged 27. But to not be boring and chose the usual suspects for stars of the first round, the real blossoming star of the first round regardless if his team wins or loses in the first round has been Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo. The former Kentucky star nearly averaged a triple-double per game against the Chicago Bulls which includes averages of 19.4 points, 11.6 assists, and 9.3 rebounds. In NBA history, there have only been three players to ever average a triple double in the playoffs. The last to do so? Magic Johnson. Even if the Celtics get eliminated by the Bulls in the first round, Rondo's performance will go down as one of the most complete by a point guard in NBA history.
The Not-to-be-forgotten performances:
Dirk Nowitzki did what a lot of NBA experts thought to be very improbable and that was knock out the San Antonio Spurs in the first round with ease. Dirk played a complete series against Tim Duncan's Spurs and he showed just how difficult of a match-up problem he can be. The seven-foot shooter averaged 20 points and eight boards a game, followed by clutch free throw shooting going 29-of-31 in the series. Denver Nuggets point guard Chauncey Billups dismantled Chris Paul and the New Orleans Hornets. If you watched any of the series between the two teams, Billups was only outplayed by Paul once and that was the lone victory for the Hornets. The Nuggets point guard was never held under double digit scoring and twice scored over 30 points. That happened to be in Game 1 and 2, which ultimately decided the series.
The M.I.A. players:
The Detroit Pistons as a whole get the prestigious honor of being an entire team missing in action in the first round. Usually, the Pistons are the team that constantly give LeBron James somewhat of a defensive battle, but that was another team from another year. The Pistons never scored over 85 points in a game against the Cavs and twice were held under 80 points. Detroit looked very old in this series and it's about that time that this team blows up their roster and starts from scratch with some younger players. Last year, Chris Paul single-handedly led his club to the second round where they pushed the Spurs to a seven-game series. This year, however, was absolutely controlled by Billups and the Nuggets. Paul was held under 20 points three of five games during the series and the biggest no-no of them all was his team losing by an NBA-tying record of 58 points. If you're one of the NBA's top five players in the league, you never allow your team to lose by this margin especially in front of your home crowd in the postseason.
This award, albeit in a losing effort, goes to Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose. Despite the fact that Rose had trouble guarding Rajon Rondo, the same can be said about Rondo's defense of Rose. The first-year star is averaged 19.7 points per game as the Bulls lost a fantastic and legendary seven-game battle with the Boston Celtics. His 36-point performance in Game 1 alone put him on a list tied with Wilt Chamberlin for most scored in their first ever playoff appearance. The baby Bulls may have come up a buck short against the Celtics this year, but come next year, the Bulls should be one of the top five teams in the NBA.