The Western Conference is a perennial minefield for any would-be contender to navigate through the NBA playoffs. The West has more superstars, more good teams, more competition — and they have for decades. That means to be one of the best in the Western Conference playoffs is to be a cut above.
Evaluating a player in the postseason is not simply looking at their individual statistics, although that plays a part. You must also look at their on-court impact, their defense, their team’s success, and how other teams have defended them. If a player is causing the opposing coach to draw an entirely new defense in crayon on the back of a hand towel, you know that player is making an impact.
With the Phoenix Suns reaching the NBA Finals, let’s take a look at standout NBA playoffs performances as we reveal the All-Western Conference team.
Let’s take a look at the five best players in the Western Conference playoffs this year, balancing all of those many factors to narrow the list down.
All Western Conference Team: Honorable Mentions
Kawhi Leonard was a two-way savant while healthy, appearing in 11 games and averaging 30.4 points per game. His 2.5 win shares lead the West playoff field. His injury absence keeps him just out of the top 5, as does (in some small way) the Clippers’ success without him.
Devin Booker had a few absolutely brilliant games, including closing the Los Angeles Lakers out and starting off the series against the Clippers with a bang. Overall his numbers for the series were good, not elite, and the advanced stats are slightly less than the best, keeping him just outside the top 5. He could absolutely still uncork a magnificent NBA Finals.
Donovan Mitchell had a few games of simply sublime beauty, shredding opposing defenses. In his 10 games the Jazz went 6-4, and in games where he was healthy they went 6-1. A hamstring injury slowed him towards the end, but he showed that his shotmaking from the NBA Bubble was not a fluke and Spida is capable of elevating his game on the biggest stage.
Reggie Jackson, Deandre Ayton, Ja Morant, Rudy Gobert and Cameron Payne deserve a shout-out as well. Now let’s turn to the Top 5, the best of the best: The All Western Conference Team.