Entering these playoffs without the presence of LeBron James had the masses in the NBA world feeling a little uneasy. The King reeled off eight straight Finals appearances all while rocking some of the best kicks from his signature line before this season, leaving fans accustomed to seeing him play in style late into June. Well, as it turns out, these playoffs have been just fine. And that's no shot at James, but rather a highlight of how good the other superstars still hooping have been. Not only have we witnessed incredible runs, game-winning shots and epic showdowns but we've also seen players continue to display impeccable footwear while fighting for their playoff lives.
Time and time again we've broken down how the playoff lights shine a little bit brighter and that this is the moment to show off your best kicks. The field of players has gotten smaller as we've advanced into the conference finals, but that doesn't mean there isn't plenty of heat to keep track of.
Here are the hoopers with the best on-court kicks during the conference finals.
8. D.J. Wilson, Milwaukee Bucks
Though second-year forward D.J. Wilson didn't play a huge role for the Bucks during the Eastern Conference finals against the Raptors, he definitely stood out when it came to his kicks. Wilson is a huge fan of the Nike Kobe line, frequently showing off rare colorways when he hits the hardwood. What lands him on this list is a new Nike Kobe 4 Protro PE that he broke out during Game 5. The kicks are one of a kind and feature a vibrant blue upper with a green Nike swoosh that blends perfectly with the Bucks' uniforms. Those shoes were certified heat; we're looking forward to seeing more from Wilson next season.
7. Danny Green, Toronto Raptors
Danny Green didn't see the individual results he wanted to see on the court during the East finals against the Bucks, but he did show up for every game in style. Green is part of a small group of NBA players with a Puma shoe deal and, along with DeMarcus Cousins of the Warriors, is one of only two Puma-affiliated players still alive in the playoffs. Green's highlights include an all-gold pair of the Puma Clyde Court that might start turning a couple of heads away from the major brands and toward Puma down the line. Let's see what Green breaks out during the NBA Finals to keep this momentum going.
6. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo falling short of the NBA Finals not only cost him a chance of putting together a season that could've consisted of the NBA's best regular-season record, a title, Finals MVP and the regular-season MVP award, but the Greek Freak was also in line to debut his signature Nike shoe during the Finals. Getting the first look at a signature shoe on that type of stage is something that would've been priceless for Nike, but they'll have to wait until next season to see Giannis on an NBA court in his official shoe. In the meantime, Giannis continued to stay true to the Nike Kobe line during the Eastern Conference finals, consistently rocking a Nike Kobe AD PE in a vibrant orange colorway that features a camo midsole. Keep scrolling to check out the first images of Giannis' first signature shoe and the kicks he rocked in the ECF.
5. George Hill, Milwaukee Bucks
Bucks guard George Hill is a reliable veteran that tends to come up big in huge spots. He's also an underrated sneaker guy. Hill made an appearance in Vol. 10 of our regular-season Sneaker King Power Rankings with some impressive footwear. In the Eastern Conference finals against the Raptors, Hill relied heavily on the Nike PG 3, the latest signature shoe from Thunder star Paul George's line. The most eye-popping shoe came when he broke out the PG 3 "Mamba Mentality" for Game 5 and nearly secured a double-double.
4. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
During the sweep of the Trail Blazers in the Western Conference finals, Stephen Curry proved (again) that he's pretty good at basketball. Curry broke the record for most points in a four-game sweep with 146 -- that's an impressive 36.5 points per game if you're trying to do the quick math. Chef Curry also managed to cook up an impressive colorway of his signature Under Armour Curry 6 for the quick run against Portland. Curry stuck to this shoe throughout the series, unlike the semifinals against Houston when he changed up kicks a ton and even broke out a pair of the Under Armour Curry 1's.
3. Jordan Bell, Golden State Warriors
Warriors big man Jordan Bell brings out a pair of kicks every few games that completely gets the sneaker community buzzing. This time around he pulled that feat by rocking the Nike LeBron 16 "Oregon" PE, a shoe that won't be released to the public anytime soon, though he might have a hookup or two lined up from his college days playing for the Ducks. Let's just keep our fingers crossed and hope that Bell keeps pulling strings for the NBA Finals.
2. Meyers Leonard, Portland Trail Blazers
The Trail Blazers didn't get the outcome they wanted against the Warriors in the Western Conference finals, but their run as a whole was a success and they'll undoubtedly be a force to be reckoned with next season. Another bright spot for the Trail Blazers? Big man Meyers Leonard is finally getting the recognition he deserves as a legit sneakerhead who breaks out consistent heat from the Nike LeBron line. Leonard's run from LeBron's line even got the attention of The King himself earlier in the playoffs and he sent a shout-out in the direction of the big man. Leonard's highlights from the WCF include the Nike LeBron 16 "Glow," and the LeBron 16 "Harlem Stage," both highly-coveted kicks from LBJ's line. Keep the kicks coming for next season, Meyers.
1. Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors
Kawhi Leonard is putting together one of the most impressive postseason runs in recent history, guiding the Raptors to their first-ever NBA Finals appearance all while rocking his signature New Balance OMN1S kicks. Leonard continues to show why he's not your prototypical NBA superstar. He shies away from the limelight and is the only upper-echelon player not signed to a Nike, Jordan or Adidas shoe deal. Not only is Leonard helping add to his legacy on the court, but what he's doing for New Balance -- a brand trying to get back into the basketball mix -- is priceless. New Balance has also done a great job lining up creative new colorways for him to rock on the court, and now we can't wait to see what they have in store for the NBA Finals.