Eastern Conference Finals X-factors: Huerter is ready to shine
The 2021 NBA Eastern Conference Finals are now upon us! The Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks each fended off squads heavy on star power in seven-game battles, and they’ll now lock up with a trip to the NBA Finals on the line.
NBA Championship 2020/2021
Mon, August 30 2021, 11:57 PM
Los Angeles Clippers
We all know about players like Giannis Antetokounmpo (yes, I copy-pasted that, and any writer who tries to say they don’t is lying) and Trae Young, both of whom could will their teams to conference titles. But who are the lesser known difference-makers who could sway this series? Let’s dive in, shall we?
Milwaukee Bucks: Brook Lopez
It may be a bit shocking to some that Brook Lopez is only 33, because it seems like he’s been around forever. He just completed his 13th season in the league, and while he’s not quite the player he was a few years ago, he has been a vital part of the Bucks starting lineup this postseason.
Lopez is one of four Milwaukee players averaging double-figures in scoring, and his 1.7 blocks per game are tops on the team. Add in that he’s grabbing better than seven rebounds per contest and that the perimeter-oriented Hawks sometimes struggle on the glass, and Lopez has the potential to be a big problem.
Atlanta Hawks: Kevin Huerter
Admittedly, I’m a bit biased. I got to cover Huerter when he was a high school standout at Shenendehowa in Clifton Park, New York, and it’s been a joy to see him develop into a legitimate NBA player.
When the Hawks needed a jolt in Game 7 of their series against Philadelphia, it was Huerter who provided it. While Young struggled to a 5-for-23 performance from the floor, Huerter shined, scoring 27 points and adding seven rebounds. With that in mind, where else would I look for an X-factor than a guy who’s already been one?
Consistency has been a bit of an issue with Huerter to this point in his career. He’s shown flashes of potential in spots, but has never been seen as more than a complementary piece. That Game 7 performance, however, will go down in Hawks lore, and it may have been an indication that he’s a player to watch moving forward.