The first round of the NBA Playoffs are well underway and all three of the active former Michigan Wolverines have increased their roles, with some being more surprising than others. While the sheer number of professional Wolverines still in the playoffs may be relatively small, the impact they are having certainly outpaces their quantity.
Note: All stats are as of April 25.
Jordan Poole, G Golden State Warriors
Poole returned to form in games three and four of Golden State’s first round matchup with the Sacramento Kings. In Game 3, Poole got the starting nod. He stuffed the stat sheet to the tune of 16 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals. He shot 1-for-7 from three, but that was largely overlooked as Golden State celebrated a comfortable win.
In Game 4, he remained in the starting lineup and managed to score 22 points in a respectable performance. While he shot better from the field (8-for-15 from the field and 2-for-6 from deep), his plus/minus was a meager -1, the worst of all Warriors starters.
It will be interesting to see if Poole continues to start moving forward or if he is moved to the bench again.
Caris LeVert, G Cleveland Cavaliers
Despite Cleveland struggling mightily in the first round with the New York Knicks, LeVert has been his normal, stable self. In Game 3, he was Cleveland’s second leading scorer with 17 points despite a rough night shooting from deep. He also chipped in four rebounds and three assists in a starting role.
Game 4 was another disappointing effort for Cleveland, but LeVert doesn’t share a ton of the blame. He nearly recorded a double-double by scoring 14 points and collecting nine rebounds. After spending most of the season as the Cavaliers’ sixth man, it’s a bit of a surprise he has started a majority of the first round.
Duncan Robinson, F Miami Heat
Miami has been the surprise of the NBA Playoffs to date. Following Game 1 against Milwaukee, I mentioned Tyler Herro’s injury opened up a door for Robinson’s minutes to increase as the playoffs moved on. That proved to be an understatement.
In games two, three and four, his minutes exploded. In the regular season, Robinson averaged 16.4 minutes per game but in the last three games, he’s averaged 26.7 minutes.
In Game 2, Robinson scored 14 points (on 4-of-6 shooting from three) with five rebounds and three assists. He followed that up in Game 3 with 20 points on 5-of-6 shooting from three. Then he scored nine points in Game 4, entirely on three pointers (3-for-4).
Robinson clearly has a role to fill as a spot-up shooter in Miami’s offense. He is filling that role very efficiently, which has contributed to Miami’s shocking success against the Bucks.