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Players who can be biggest X-factors 2023 NBA playoffs

Here’s a look at which under-the-radar players could impact the postseason.

Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors
Andrew Wiggins of the Golden State Warriors shoots a three point basket during the game against the Los Angeles Lakers on February 11, 2023 at Chase Center in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

In every NBA postseason, there are unexpected contributors who have an outsized impact on the way the playoffs unfold. It’s one of the best parts of the playoffs, and sports as a whole. That will once again be the case in the 2023 NBA playoffs as the field is about to get set for the championship chase. Here’s a look at which players can be the biggest X-factors for their teams in the 2023 NBA playoffs.

Andrew Wiggins, Golden State Warriors

2022-23 stats (37 games) : 17.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.3 apg
Postseason experience/accomplishments: 2022 NBA champion

The Warriors got a big boost ahead of the playoffs with the return of Wiggins, the team’s best perimeter defender last postseason. Wiggins was also a force on the boards, helping the Warriors make up for their lack of size in the interior. He missed significant time with a personal issue and needs a week to get back into basketball shape, but all the reports are positive for Wiggins to be ready for Game 1. If he can replicate his production from last year’s playoffs (16.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg), Golden State has a great chance at repeating as a champion.

Tobias Harris, Philadelphia 76ers

2022-23 stats (74 games) : 14.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.5 apg
Postseason experience/accomplishments: 44 career playoff games

The combo forward is one of the under-the-radar members for this 76ers team, but his efficiency has been excellent this season. Harris posted 50/38/87 shooting splits over 74 games, which begs the question of why he doesn’t get more looks in this offense. Perhaps the 76ers, who have not made the conference finals in the Doc Rivers era, could change things up this postseason and provide Harris with more touches. The potential is there, but the production is capped by usage limits with James Harden and Joel Embiid on the floor. Can Harris become the third star Philadelphia always seems to be missing in the playoffs?

Malcolm Brogdon, Boston Celtics

2022-23 stats (67 games) : 14.9 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.2 apg
Postseason experience/accomplishments: 24 career playoff games, one conference finals appearance

Brogdon was a surprise get for the Celtics in the offseason, and he’s proven to be the perfect fit as many expected. The efficiency, especially from the perimeter, remains on point for the combo guard. He should see more usage in the playoffs, as he provides more spacing for the Celtics over Marcus Smart and Derrick White. When the Celtics brought Brogdon in, it was so he could take on a bigger role in these moments. He’ll take some pressure off Jayson Tatum as well, which could be important if the Celtics make a deep playoff run as many expect them too.

Austin Reaves, Los Angeles Lakers

2022-23 stats (64 games) : 13 ppg, 3 rpg, 3.4 apg
Postseason experience/accomplishments: None

After missing 16 games in the middle of the season, Reaves turned things up ahead of the playoffs. The young guard averaged 18.7 points, 5.8 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game over his final 18, with 10 starts for the Lakers. It takes a lot to carve out a prominent role in any rotation with LeBron James involved, and Reaves has done that. More importantly, he’s earned James’ trust as the King goes for yet another championship. Look for Reaves to provide energy off the bench for the Lakers and even get spot starts if the team feels it’s necessary.

Kevin Huerter, Sacramento Kings

2022-23 stats (75 games) : 15.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.9 apg
Postseason experience/accomplishments: 23 career playoff games, one conference finals appearance

Huerter has remained a lights-out shooter in Sacramento’s offense, which topped the league in points per game this season. The combo guard can also contribute on the glass and as a facilitator, but it’s his shot-making that gives him some upside in this particular category. If Huerter can stay hot from deep, the Kings will be able to maintain favorable matchups for De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis. Sacramento is playing with house money, and Huerter’s strong perimeter game could play a big factor in the first round against the defending champions Warriors.