NBA Playoffs 2021: With the New Orleans Pelicans eliminated from NBA playoff contention, Zion Williamson’s standout season will end without him making his first appearance in the postseason.
Williamson’s fractured left finger left him on the bench as the Pelicans failed in their final push to make the play-in tournament.
First playoff appearance since 2013 🗽
New York has clinched a spot in the 2021 NBA Playoffs! pic.twitter.com/3LiGUiA8i0
— NBA TV (@NBATV) May 13, 2021
He makes it in our list as one of the best NBA players who had to miss the NBA Playoffs. Find out below:
Zion Williamson (2020-21)
Williamson was restricted to just 24 games in his rookie season due to injuries and the pandemic-shortened season, but he made sure to turn up the very next season.
Williamson averaged 27 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.7 assists while shooting 61.1% from the floor.
His 27.0 points per game are the most in NBA history for a player who shot better than 60%. Williamson has scored 2,187 points in his first 85 career games. In the past 40 seasons, only Michael Jordan scored more.
Russell Westbrook (2014-15)
The legend of Westbrook was crystallized in the 2014-15 season when he led the league in scoring (28.1 PPG) and triple-doubles (11) notwithstanding fumbling the playoffs. Westbrook came back from a broken hand that benched him for 14 games in November.
The Thunder were really poor that season, as reigning MVP Kevin Durant had missed 55 games with foot issues.
While Westbrook picked up (30.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, 9.1 assists, and 2.1 steals per game in 40 games played without Durant), the Thunder completed 45-37 and lost a tiebreaker with the Pelicans for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
LeBron James (2004-05)
James’ rise to the bigger stages of the league hastened in his second NBA season (27.2 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 7.2 APG).
He developed across the board from his Rookie of the Year campaign, distinctly raising his points, rebounds, assists, field goal percentage, and 3-point percentage.
Cleveland began the All-Star break 30-21, the third-best record in the East, but staggered to a 12-19 mark the rest of the way, firing coach Paul Silas along the way. His 2019 NBA Playoffs campaign is still one to remember.
Shaquille O’Neal (1992-93)
The 1992 No. 1 overall pick won NBA Player of the Week in his first week in the NBA, was named an All-Star Game starter in his first season, won Rookie of the Year.
His monstrous numbers (23.4 points, 13.9 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks per game) helped Orlando improve its win total by 20 games, but the Magic missed the playoffs after losing a tiebreaker with the Pacers.
Shaq went on to make the postseason in each of his next 15 seasons. According to Elias Sports Bureau research, his ’92-93 campaign was the last time a player missed the playoffs despite ranking in the top 10 in the league in points per game and field goal percentage.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1975-76)
The 1975-76 season was one of the best in the distinguished career of Abdul-Jabbar. He finished the season with averages of 27.7 points, 16.9 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 4.1 blocks, and 1.5 steals per game en route to winning the league’s MVP award in his first season with the Lakers.
But notwithstanding leading the league in rebounding and blocks, the Lakers finished 40-42 in Abdul-Jabbar’s first act in purple and gold, as he missed the playoffs for just the second (and final) time in his 20-year career.
This was the only time wherein the MVP of the season did not play in the NBA Playoffs.