It's a stars time in a stars league.
Whether it's Kevin Durant scoring 41 points last night, Derrick Rose pouring in 25 the night before or Durant dropping 31 on Monday, it seems like a high-end player is going off every night. It probably seems that way because they are.
The average All-Star who played in the playoffs* scored 19.2 percent of his team's points during the regular season, and that number has jumped to 22.3 percent in the postseason.
That's an abnormally high leap. Before last year's lower-magnitude increase from 18.7 percent to 20.6 percent, in half of the previous four years, the percentage actually decreased in the playoffs.
*In the last six years, 126 of 159 All-Stars (79 percent) played in the playoffs the season they made an All-Star team. Kevin Garnett's 2009 Celtics, Allen Iverson's 2009 Pistons, Yao Ming's 2008 Rockets, Gilbert Arenas' and Caron Butlers' 2007 Wizards made the playoffs, but those five players didn't play in the postseason.
Here's how the regular and post seasons compared this year and each of the previous five.* The regular season is orange, and the postseason is blue.
*Four players played for multiple teams in seasons they made the All-Star Game and the playoffs--Carmelo Anthony (2011), Chauncey Billups (2009), Jason Kidd (2008) and Allen Iverson (2007). For those players, I counted just their points with their second team and that team's points since acquiring the player.
Of the 11 teams that made this year's playoffs and have All-Stars on their roster, just the Knicks and Lakers have relied less on their All-Stars for scoring in the playoffs than they did in the regular season.
Here's how each team's percentage compared. They're ordered by largest increase. Again, the regular season is orange, and the postseason is blue.
Amar'e Stoudemire went from scoring 24.1 percent of the Knicks' points before the Melo trade to 19.6 percent after the deal. So, just using games after the trade, Stoudemire and Melo averaged scoring 21.7 percent of the Knicks points, which puts them closer to, although not quite to, the 22.3 percent they posted in the playoffs.
The leaves the Lakers as the only team getting substantially less scoring from its All-Stars, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. Kobe has fallen from scoring 25.3 points per game in the regular season to 22.2 in the playoffs, and Gasol has gone from 18.8 to 13.0. Neither player is shooting as well as usual, and Andrew Bynum--arguably the team's third-best scorer--has played in all five of Los Angeles' playoff games, as opposed to just 54 regular-season games.
Who would have guessed stars would dominate playoff scoring despite Kobe Bryant?
Dan Feldman is an author of Basketball Prospectus.
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