African influence will continue during the NBA playoffs

Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of Team Stephen dribbles the ball against LeBron James #23 of Team LeBron during the NBA All-Star Game 2018. Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Sixteen teams are in the frame for post-season basketball after the NBA regular season ended on Thursday, and a number of African players are set to keep impacting their teams' fortunes.

Of those teams, 11 have players of African descent on their rosters, seven of which have benefitted immensely from the contributions of these players, including the top two teams in both conferences.

Toronto Raptors

The trio of Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakam, and OG Anunoby all contributed in different measures to the success of the Raptors.

Respectively, Ibaka and Anunoby started 76 and 62 of the 82 games the Raptors played during the regular season. Siakam started only five, but his impact could be seen in the minutes Dwayne Casey allocated to him.

The Cameroonian youngster came off the bench in 76 games and averaged 20.7 minutes each night. Anunoby averaged 20.0 minutes.

The Raptors traded for Ibaka to fill a defensive void, and the Congolese-Spaniard didn't disappoint. He averaged 6.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocked shots per game, plus the added offensive threat of 12.0 points tells its own story. Ibaka will thrive in the intensity of the playoffs.

Anunoby and Siakam both offered different dimensions to the Raptors. The former starred as an excellent defender, with athleticism and a reach that made it possible for him stay in front of the abundance of speedy wings.

Siakam is a valuable off-the-bench punch who delivers good numbers at both ends of the floor while the first unit rests. Both will be useful for the Raptors in the cauldron of the post-season.

Houston Rockets

The Rockets, who led the league with most wins in the regular season, relied heavily on the production of Clint Capela and Luc Mbah a Moute.

Capela, whose parents are from Angola and Congo, led the league in field goal average, and is averaging a double-double for the first time in his career. He is one of Houston's 'big three,' along with MVP candidate James Harden, and Chris Paul.

Capela averaged 10.5 points in the playoffs last season, so expect him to deliver bigger numbers this term as the Rockets make a run for the championship.

Mbah a Moute was recruited primarily for his defensive prowess. He is often overlooked in a team as offensively talented as Houston, but his Defensive Box Plus/Minus of 1.5 is joint-best at the Rockets among player who have logged 1 500 minutes or more. The same output, or better, will be needed in the post-season.

Philadelphia 76ers

The 76ers have won 52 games this season, almost double their total last season, and locked up the third seed in the Eastern Conference. This number was made possible thanks to Rookie of the Year certainty Ben Simmons and a certain Joel Embiid forging a fantastic partnership.

The Cameroonian center -- who made the cut for the 2018 All Star Team -- logged an impressive 33.4 percent usage rate; Simmons is next with 22.3 percent.

Philadelphia will need #TheProcess fit and healthy if they want to make some noise in the playoffs.

Indiana Pacers

It was never going to matter what the Pacers were receiving, from any team, in return for fan favourite Paul George. Fans needed a good amount of convincing when American-Nigerian Victor Oladipo arrived as a part of the trade that sent George to Oklahoma in August.

Fast forward to the end of the season and Oladipo has become an All Star, the Pacers have six more wins than last season and, more importantly, they made a successful return to post-season basketball.

The measure of growth the guard has experienced this season -- and his contribution to the Pacers' cause -- is in the fact that he is the leading name in the conversation for Most Improved Player.

Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks are rolling into the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2004, and one of the major reasons is the play of Greek-Nigerian Giannis Antetokounmpo.

'The Greek Freak' is averaging a double-double for the first time in his career, and he leads the team in scoring and rebounds. In fact, Giannis is in the top 10 in the NBA in scoring, rebounds, assists, steals, and minutes played.

Antetokounmpo has a usage percentage that has leaped to 31.2, up from the 15.0 percent of his rookie season and the 28.3 percent of last season. He, and fellow African Buck Thon Maker, will need to maintain form in the playoffs, where the Bucks face the Boston Celtics in the first round.

Portland Trail Blazers

The Oregon-based team making noise in the wild Western Conference have Nigerian-American forward Al Farouq Aminu in their ranks.

'Air Nigeria' is one of only three Blazers players who averaged 30 minutes per game; the other two are Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. He is averaging 9.4 points per game, is second in rebounds, and his total of 79 steals is the most by any player in the team.

Aminu works tirelessly in defence, but has the added extra of stretching the floor with the huge three point shots he makes -- he sank a total of 125 during the regular season. The other two players with 100 or more three-pointers made? Yep, you guessed it: Lillard and McCollum.

The Blazers will need those two to make plays and get buckets when they face the Pelicans in the first round, and trust Aminu to protect the rim and pop up with those timely long-range bombs.

Miami Heat

Center Edrice 'Bam' Adebayo may not be in the conversation for Rookie of the Year, because that is Simmons' territory. But the American-Nigerian delivered for the Heat when it mattered most.

He was handed a starting spot when Hassan Whiteside was out injured, and he didn't disappoint. His contributions to the Heat's cause as they waited for their star center to recover is one of the reasons Miami are going back to the playoffs.

Semi Ojeleye and Abdel Nader (Boston Celtics), Ekpe Udoh and Thabo Sefolosha (Utah Jazz), Cheick Diallo and Emeka Okafor (New Orleans Pelicans), and Gorgui Deng (Minnesota Timberwolves) are the other players of African descent heading to the playoffs.