Photo Courtesy of Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA’s Western Conference finals are set. The Denver Nuggets are set to take on the Los Angeles Lakers, with the winner being one step closer to a championship.

This series has the makings of an exciting series, and star players like two-time MVP Nikola Jokic, all-time scoring leader LeBron James and two-way star Anthony Davis will likely have their typical stellar performances. But what about their supporting cast? Superstars can only do so much when it comes to their teams winning, and it takes a strong supporting cast to get the win. And both teams have supporting players that will be crucial to their team’s success. Here are three supporting players to keep an eye on in this series.

1.) Aaron Gordon

Aaron Gordon is one of Denver’s key players, and one of their best scoring options outside of Jokic. He was solid in the Nuggets’ regular season series against the Lakers, as he averaged 12.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.3 blocks. In this postseason (or playoffs), Gordon averages 13.1 points and 6.1 rebounds. Gordon’s best game in the previous series (against the Phoenix Suns) was Game 1. He finished with 23 points and six rebounds.

Gordon is a player that can be effective on both ends. He has the ability to score and his athleticism makes him an impactful player on offense and defense. His teammate, Jokic, once called him a top-5 two-way player in the league. Gordon has played well in the playoffs this year, and the way he performs in the upcoming series could be the deciding factor in Denver’s success or failure.

2.) Jamal Murray

Jamal Murray has had quite the journey. He dealt with an ACL injury that caused him to miss significant time. This season was a chance to turn things around, and he has delivered.

In the regular season series against the Lakers, Murray averaged 22.8 points, 5.3 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 1.3 steals. He also shot nearly 38 percent from 3-point range. This postseason, Murray averages 25.9 points, 6.5 assists, 5.2 rebounds and 1.3 steals. He is also shooting nearly 40 percent from deep.

Murray had big games against the Suns, and his best game was a 38-point performance in Game 1. This performance is his third-best game scoring wise this postseason, with his best being a 40-point game against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round.

Murray looks like the perfect player to compliment Jokic, and now that he is healthy again, he has solidified himself as their second option. If Murray continues to play well, the Nuggets have a good chance at reaching the NBA Finals.

3.) D’Angelo Russell

D’Angelo Russell was one of the players the Lakers acquired in their Russell Westbrook trade. And since his arrival, he has been a solid addition to the Lakers. Russell averages 15.7 points and 5.0 assists this postseason. He played well against the Golden State Warriors, with the exception of Game 4. He shot 10 percent from the field and finished with four points.

In what is his second stint with the Lakers, Russell has been the third option they need. If Russell plays at a high level (and backs up James and Davis), the Lakers could be on their way to another championship.

This series will be a series where the supporting cast is more important than ever, and if these three players continue to play well, this could be an intense, competitive series.

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