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NBA playoff MVPs: Ranking the 10 best players in Round 1

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Dubs take first round in five (0:56)

The Warriors have Steph Curry raising the roof and the fans out of their seats as they advance past the Spurs with the Pelicans looming. (0:56)

The NBA playoffs have been outstanding thus far, with huge performances and drama galore through the first two weeks.

Let's take a look at the 10 players who have led the way, doing the most to elevate their squads in the postseason.


1. LeBron James | F | Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavs have been in a tight battle with the Indiana Pacers, but the only reason that they've even stayed in the series has been the brilliant play and leadership of James. While each of the next four players in the rankings have at least one teammate either on the list or in strong consideration, James' supporting cast has struggled. Kevin Love has been battling a re-injury to his hand, and no other reliable second option has stepped forward.

James has been the best player in the playoffs by every box score measurement, and his herculean abilities to do it all on offense while leading the team defensively have kept his team's hopes for advancing beyond this round alive.


2. Anthony Davis | F/C | New Orleans Pelicans

Davis absolutely dominated the middle in the Pelicans' first-round sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers.

His high-efficiency scoring, primarily from the paint, played the perfect counterpart to the efficient perimeter creation abilities of his starting backcourt. Meanwhile, his proficiency at protecting the rim allowed Jrue Holiday and Rajon Rondo to aggressively attack the Blazers' backcourt, neutralizing it enough to easily win the series.


3. James Harden | G | Houston Rockets

Harden continues to be the MVP of the high-powered Rockets attack. The Rockets have actually been misfiring slightly by their standard, which is amazing as they still outscored the Minnesota Timberwolves by 10.4 points per 100 possessions with Harden on the court.

While Chris Paul has helped keep the ship pointed in the right direction and taken some of the pressure off, Harden is still clearly the captain here.


4. Giannis Antetokounmpo | F | Milwaukee Bucks

Antetokounmpo is the foundation for the entire Bucks attack, and his inevitability as a rim attacker forces the entire Boston Celtics defense to focus completely on him. This opens up lanes and shots for the rest of the Bucks, with teammate Khris Middleton's scoring prowess co-anchoring the unit.

When the Bucks surround Antetokounpo with shooters, they have been nigh unstoppable offensively in the series. Meanwhile, his length and rebounding, along with his ability to defend opposing center Al Horford, also have been key for the Bucks' defense.


5. Jrue Holiday | G | New Orleans Pelicans

There's a strong argument that Holiday has been as impressive as teammate Anthony Davis, perhaps even more so. He is the engine of the Pelicans' offense, mixing great decision-making with an aggressive scoring style that pushes the whole unit forward.

He is also a scrappy defender, and when he was defending Damian Lillard he did as much as anyone to slow down the Trail Blazers' most important line of attack.


6. Ben Simmons | G/F | Philadelphia 76ers

Simmons stepped up in a major way down the stretch of the regular season with Joel Embiid injured. He continued to lead the 76ers in the early part of the playoffs before Embiid's return.

The Miami Heat had no answer for his ability to penetrate and create high-efficiency scoring opportunities for both himself and teammates, and his rebounding and defensive versatility have allowed him to have the offensive impact of a point guard and the defensive impact of a big man. That is a rare and potent combination.


7. Kevin Durant | F | Golden State Warriors

Durant has led the way for the Warriors in the postseason with Stephen Curry out, helping keep the series with the San Antonio Spurs from getting particularly competitive.

His ability to iso and hit timely shots consistently kept the Spurs back on their heels, and his efficient scoring was the catalyst for Golden State's offense. With Durant on the court, the Warriors outscored the Spurs by 16.3 points per 100 possessions.


8. Ricky Rubio | G | Utah Jazz

Rubio isn't the best player on his team in a vacuum, as both Rudy Gobert (defense) and Donovan Mitchell (offense) are better in general and have each played well in the postseason.

However, Rubio is driving the Jazz in their matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and he has taken on the task of facing off with reigning MVP Russell Westbrook. That impressive effort has been key for Utah.


9. Al Horford | F/C | Boston Celtics

Like the Jazz, the Celtics have been led by an ensemble effort in these playoffs. But while Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum have drawn more attention with their exciting, high-flying finishes and hot shooting from deep, it is Horford who has been the best, most consistent Celtics producer in this postseason. Horford has anchored the middle for the Celtics against a longer, more athletic Bucks front line. He also has led the defense, been an offensive hub and made timely shots all series long.


10. John Wall | G | Washington Wizards

This was a very contentious spot, as Chris Paul and DeMar DeRozan also had very strong arguments here. Ultimately, Wall has produced more than DeRozan and carried a heavier weight than Paul. His ability to create offense and attack the rim has carried the Wizards back into the series with a chance to defeat the Toronto Raptors, which is all that they could have asked for in a 1-8 matchup.