15 Most Under-Appreciated Players In The NBA
15 Most Under-Appreciated NBA Players
The NBA is comprised of many types of players. There are superstars, all stars, bench warmers, up and comers, and then the under-appreciated. The under-appreciated are those players that don’t get the recognition they deserve for various reasons. Their respective team could be under performing. They could be playing in the wrong system or be in the coach’s doghouse. Also, their efforts could be overlooked because they are playing in the shadow of a superstar.
These 15 players shouldn’t be overlooked. The league has started to take notice, now may be the time for you to take notice as well. There is a variety of skill sets, experience, and potential when talking about these few players. Of course, there are those circumstances which may have kept these players from receiving their fair of adoration. Being placed within a system that isn’t right for your particular skills can over shadow your talent and true worth. A player like Tyreke Evans may be a shining example of just that. Playing for a franchise that doesn’t have support from the fans can also be a cause for being overlooked like Rolando Blackman playing for all of those porous Dallas Maverick teams in the 90’s.
Taking all of that in to account, this is a list of players who are definitely worthy of recognition. Let’s take a look at some of those players that are under the radar but shouldn’t be for long. This is a list of the 15 most under-appreciated players in the NBA.
Paul George has come on big time this year. No longer in Danny Granger’s shadow with Granger on injured reserve, George has become the go to guy on the Indiana Pacers. George is only in his 3rd season and has just started to unlock all of that potential. Besides the occasional Sportscenter highlight few people have really watched the Pacers play in order to get a full appreciation of what George can do on the basketball court. He happens to the be the Pacers’ best perimeter defender as well as leading the team in minutes, points, while coming in 3rd in rebounding.
Al Horford has been playing out of position since he has been in the NBA. Under sized Atlanta Hawks teams meant Horford had to spend time playing center instead of his natural position of power forward. That still hasn’t stopped Horford from improving every year even earning an All Star appearance in just his 3rd season in the league. With the Hawks under-going a rebuild under new GM Danny Ferry, don’t expect Horford to be out of position for too much longer. Joe Johnson was traded away over the summer and it looks like Josh Smith will be next to gone leaving Horford as the unquestioned leader of the Hawks for the future.
O.J. Mayo took some time to adjust to the college game as a much talked about recruit. It also took him some time once he jumped to the pros. Many thought Mayo would be the second coming of Lebron James but it seems he is just being himself. After leaving the Memphis Grizzlies this summer he found the free agent market not as bountiful as he would have hoped. Mayo inked a deal with the Dallas Mavericks and had the chance to finally have his own team as Dirk Nowitzki worked his way back from knee surgery. The result, Mayo is leading the NBA in 3 point shooting and has started to become a better passer. Look for Mayo to get the money he deserves once he becomes a free agent again.
Many fail to realize that Al Jefferson was the centerpiece to the trade that sent Kevin Garnett to the Boston Celtics. After feeling like Jefferson and Kevin Love didn’t fit well together, a huge mistake, the Minnesota Timberwolves shipped Jefferson off to the Utah Jazz. In Utah, Jefferson has continued to improve and has made himself one of the rare big men with actual back to the basket talent. Averaging 17 points and 10 rebounds on a team ripe with big men is no easy task. Jefferson will probably be moving on to another team either this off season or by the trade deadline. If surrounded by the right pieces in the right system, Jefferson could be an All Star.
Greg Monroe came out of college as a polished big man but many didn’t know if he was big enough to play center or athletic enough to play power forward. Monroe has silenced all doubters with his stellar play for the Detroit Pistons. He is a big that is capable of hitting mid range jumpers and able to put the ball on the floor against other bigs. Monroe possesses great court awareness and has no problem mixing it up in the paint to grab rebounds. Many don’t get a chance to see Monroe being he is playing for a Piston team that is going through some lean times.
Greivis Vasquez was an afterthought when the Memphis Grizzlies traded him away to the New Orleans Hornets. The Grizzlies already had Mike Conley starting and a slew up guards to back him. Vasquez took his game down to New Orleans where he has had plenty of opportunity to show the Grizzlies what they are missing. With rookie Austin Rivers struggling to run the point, Vasquez has taken the job the reigns and don’t look like he plans on giving it up any time soon. Vasquez has come out of seemingly nowhere to average 14 points, 9 assists, and almost 5 rebounds a game for the lowly Hornets. Now that Eric Gordon has finally returned to action, expect those assist numbers to go up.
Klay Thompson had to wait until the Golden State Warriors decided that a backcourt of Monte Ellis and Stephen Curry just wasn’t going to work for them before he really got a chance to show his skills. Now starting full time, Thompson has averaged 15 points and 4 rebounds this year. Standing at 6 foot 7, he also has the tools to become a good defender. The Warriors are one of the youngest teams in the NBA but have started to show improvement under the guidance of Mark Jackson. A major reason for that improvement has been the development of Thompson.
Kenneth Faried is the Denver Nuggets version of the “Junk Yard Dog.” He is the ultimate hustle player, hustling his way into the starting lineup late last season. Faried allows George Karl to start offensive minded players knowing he will be there to set hard screens, dive for loose balls, and grab rebounds. Faried also fits into the Nuggets’ style of playing which is fast paced getting up and down the floor. He can outrun most big men who are given the task of guarding him. The bonus, you don’t have to run any offense plays for Faried. He is the type of player that sticks around because he doesn’t mind doing all the little things it takes to win games.
It took a few years but Larry Sanders has finally started to play up to the potential the Milwaukee Bucks saw when they drafted him in the 1st round of the 2010 draft. Sanders has started to emerge as a force in the paint on the defense end. As a reserve, Sanders leads the NBA in blocks per game. It is also a plus that he can get up and down the floor with the quick back court duo of Monte Ellis and Brandon Jennings. Once Sanders learns how to curve his appetite to foul the opponent he may go from under-appreciated to over achiever.
Tony Allen should probably be higher on the list. Allen does all of the dirty work on the perimeter for the Memphis Grizzlies. He guards the best wing player on the opposite team every night. He is the best on ball defender on the team. He rebounds and even gives you a few points here and there. Playing defense isn’t sexy but Allen is willing to play it night after night without complaining. Allen made himself irreplaceable after taking O.J. Mayo’s spot in the starting rotation last year. Every team needs that one loose cannon to balance everything out and Allen is that.
J.J. Hickson was once deemed untouchable by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Unfortunately, his talent never materialized in Cleveland and he was shipped out to the Sacramento KingsYour text to link... before finally landing with the Portland Trailblazers. Safe to say Hickson has found his way, finally. Hickson has proven to be the perfect complement to LaMarcus Aldridge this season. He is averaging a solid 12 points and 11 rebounds this year. Hickson has finally started to concentrate on the things he is good at while working more diligently in the off season to improve his game. The most important things for him were consistency. He has definitely played with more consistency and urgency this season, his impending free agency may have something to do with that.
Many wondered why Eric Bledsoe left college after his freshman season as it took some time for him to really figure out who he was as an NBA player. Now, Bledsoe has found a nice niche with the Los Angeles Clippers this season backing up Chris Paul. With Chauncey Billups unable to stay healthy, Bledsoe has made his name one of the hottest names among teams looking for a young point guard. Bledsoe is lightning quick, plays passing lanes well, can get to the basket with the best of them, and strong enough to finish. He still has a lot of upside too.
Evan Turner had a shaky beginning to his professional career. In college Turner was the man. He was the team’s main ball handler, scorer, defender, Mr. Everything. When he landed with the Philadelphia 76’ers they had their own Mr. Everything by the name of Andre Iguodala. After a few years of seasoning and the departure of Iguodala, Turner has finally turned the corner. He has become that glue guy for the Sixers filling up the stat sheet almost every night. As of now, the Sixers sit 9th in the Eastern Conference standings but with the possible return of Andrew Bynum on the way it should open up the floor a lot more.
Jose Calderon has been on the trading block for what seems like the last few years. Add that with the fact that he plays for the Toronto Raptors, most people are probably wondering exactly who Calderon is. Calderon won’t wow with his speed. Calderon won’t get the crowd up out of its seat with Pete Maravich style passing displays. What Calderon will do is effectively and efficiently run your basketball team. Calderon is a cerebral type of part guard. He thinks the game faster than it is being played and if he was on another team with a better set of players, the world would know exactly who Jose Calderon is.
Chandler Parsons may end up playing an important role on the Houston Rockets in the very near future. As James Harden is getting used to being the number one guy, Parsons will benefit from all of the double teams that Harden is sure to draw. Yes, Houston has Jeremy Lin to give the ball to. Lin doesn’t have an outside stroke like that of Parsons, though. Parsons is a 6 foot 9 small forward who can not only shoot but also handle the ball and set up teammates. He also doesn’t mind mixing it up a little in the paint averaging 6 rebounds a game.