The Eastern Conference Finals feature two teams who’ve undergone major overhauls. Barely a handful of guys return from last year’s ECF matchup between the Celtics and Cavs.
So I have ranked each player in this series on Boston.com. The top player is obvious. The rest, I feel, make sense. Then I get to six, and the hardest guy to rank.
Smart is the hardest guy to rank in a project like this. On statistics alone, he’d be further down this list (though his 10.6 points per game in the playoffs would still make him Cleveland’s third-leading scorer). But his “winning plays” and overall impact on the team make this feel right.
Smart will defend everyone at some point in this series. He can switch onto Thompson without getting backed down in the post. He’ll pick up everyone on the perimeter at some point. He’ll get his turns on LeBron. He wants his turns on LeBron.
On a team cutting a path through the playoffs behind it’s staunch defense, Smart stands out as one of its most important players.
I ranked everyone from 1 to 21. Go to Boston.com to see them all.