Top Ten Most Underrated Players In The NBA
Ranking The Top 10 Most Underrated Players In The NBA
With the 2012-13 NBA season quickly approaching, much hype has been given to the formation of “super-teams” and the arms race that has taken over professional basketball. With teams like the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers dominating NBA headlines, the league has become driven by the star power of these squads.
These superstars grab nearly all the headlines, yet some are more deserving than others, as fellow NBA writer Steven Resnick highlighted in his “Ten Most Overrated Players In The NBA” piece.
Because only a small percentage of players get the majority of the attention, there are many that go unnoticed or underappreciated despite impressive performances. Some may play in a position that features a wealth of talent, while others may be on teams that underperform or don’t get the same media time as the big markets. Al Jefferson and David Lee have performed well despite playing for mediocre teams for the past few years, which causes them to slip under the radar when ranking NBA players.
In other cases, the undervalued player may be on a superstar-laden team, yet is overshadowed by the other all-stars on the squad. Chris Bosh puts up good numbers and fills a huge role on the Heat, yet is ridiculed and underappreciated because his teammates LeBron James and Dwyane Wade dominate the media.
While the league may be run by the star power of a few individuals, lets show some love to the undervalued players in the NBA.
Here’s a look at my top 10 underrated players for the 2012-13 NBA season. Disagree? Think there's someone I left out? Leave a comment or tweet me your players @zachmink12.
Zach Mink covers the NBA for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @zachmink12 for more news and analysis.
10. Chris Bosh, Miami Heat
While Bosh is a perennial all-star, the media and fans have ripped him apart since joining the “Big 3” despite posting stellar numbers in both seasons. Bosh averaged 18 points and 8 rebounds for the champions in 2011, yet most of the credit defers to his two superstar teammates. Bosh’s accolades should be more respected, yet he is often to blame when the team fails.
9. Luol Deng, Chicago Bulls
Deng has spent the better part of his career being one of the top defenders in the league, yet until 2011 hadn’t even made an All-Star team. When he did finally land on the roster, many questioned if he should have even made it. Deng’s defensive prowess has helped Chicago to the best record in the NBA for two consecutive seasons, while also averaging over 15 points per game both years. The media and fans love volume scorers, but being a great defender takes just as much skill and usually goes unnoticed.
8. David Lee, Golden State Warriors
Lee has been a double-double threat nightly for his entire career, and his 2012 averages of 19.5 points and 9.3 rebounds are very respectable. However, playing in Golden State has pushed Lee into the shadows after shining in the New York market. With the Warriors on the rise with the addition of Andrew Bogut, Lee may get the respect he deserves if his team can start winning games.
7. Goran Dragic, Phoenix Suns
Dragic has toiled on the bench for his four year NBA career, yet has shown flashes of brilliance when handed the starting reigns. Filling in for the injured Kyle Lowry, Dragic put up huge numbers for the Houston Rockets in 2011, averaging 16 points, 7 assists and nearly 2 steals per 36 minutes. Now finally in a starting role in Phoenix, Dragic should finally start to get some of the respect he deserves.
6. Ryan Anderson, New Orleans Hornets
Anderson had a remarkable 2011-12 season, yet his performance may have gotten lost in the Dwightmare saga. The sharpshooting big man averaged 16 points and almost 8 rebounds, while hitting nearly 3 three-pointers per game. Anderson led the league from beyond the arc, nailing 422 on the season. He was also sixth in the league in offensive rebounding, and shot 88 percent from the free throw line. The statistics show how productive the young forward was, yet Orlando decided to give him away to New Orleans for Gustavo Ayon, who has promise but averaged just 6 points and 5 rebounds in his rookie campaign. That’s not the value you’d expect for someone of Anderson’s caliber.
5. Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors
Lowry was having a breakout 2011-12 campaign until his season was derailed by a bacterial infection. The 25-year-old guard was putting up huge numbers across the board, and finished with averages of 14.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 6.6 assists and 1.6 steals. Despite these statistics, the Rockets traded the explosive guard for virtually nothing, shipping Lowry to Toronto for Gary Forbes and a future first-round pick. While Lowry isn’t likely to get much attention with the Raptors, if he can stay healthy he should continue to put up big numbers.
4. Monta Ellis, Milwaukee Bucks
Ellis has been one of the most prolific scorers in the league for the past few years, yet hasn’t been on one all-star team in his seven-year career. While criticized for his volume shooting, Ellis has improved his distributing skills in recent years, averaging above 5 assists in his last three seasons. With a career average of 19.5 points per game and 1.4 steals, Ellis has been underappreciated for nearly his entire career.
3. Al Jefferson, Utah Jazz
Jefferson has consistently been one of the best bigs in the game for the last five years, yet often flies under the radar because of the mediocrity of the teams he’s played on. Jefferson averaged 19.2 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 2011. Despite averaging a double-double for three consecutive years prior to 2010, Jefferson has never been selected to an All-Star team.
2. DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings
Cousins had a monster 2011-12 season, putting up 18 points, 11 rebounds and 1.2 blocks. At only 21 years-old, the sky is the limit for the big man out of Kentucky. However, with questions about his attitude and a lack of wins from the Kings, Cousins accolades largely went unnoticed. If Cousins continues to improve, which I think he will, it will be hard to ignore regardless of how Sacramento fares.
1. Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks
One of the most athletic and exciting players in the league, Smith has been a stat-sheet stuffer in his eight seasons in the NBA. With averages of 19.2 points, 9.8 rebounds, 4 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.8 blocks in 2011, Smith was once again one of the most dominant defensive forces in the league while also ramping up his offensive production. While he has constantly produced for the Atlanta Hawks, he has never made an All-Star team, and was selected to the All-Defensive team only once.