The NBA has seen a ton of talent over the last quarter century roll in and out of the league. Some have made a name for themselves and have continued their success up until retirement or even after.. Some guys disappear or faze out of the NBA. When competing at the highest level, there is always someone out there still working harder to get that same opportunity.
This list is more for those who were great or showed signs of their dominance, only to continue to grind and work on their craft, even when the credit dwindles and the light shines somewhere else. Many of these players are NBA future hall of famers looking for a Championship, while others cannot figure out when to let the game go.
These one time high profile athletes want to make the most out of their time playing sports because before they know it, they may have to find a real job. Something that they have to work with regular hours making less than millions of dollars to entertain the rest of us with their freakish athletic abilities. This list is for the guys behind the scenes, guys that have slipped under the radar the past few seasons.
15 Jason Terry
The jet is more like a single-engine piston at this point in his career. He is still a scoring spark off of the bench for his ex-teammate turned coach Jason Kidd, providing additional learning tools and experience for the young roster to lean on.
14 Chris Andersen (Birdman) & James Jones
The two of Chris Andersen and James Jones have been paired together as they are part of the “LeBron Boys.” The guys who follow LeBron from one NBA team to another looking to add to their ring collection. As frustrating as it is, can you really blame these guys? They are almost guaranteed to make it to the NBA Finals and if needed, they can provide limited minutes and possibly look like a hero in the process.
13 Mike Miller
It has felt like Mike Miller has been retiring for the past 10 years. The 36-year-old Florida Gator alum has made a career of dropping few but important 3 point field goals when needed in clutch or playoff circumstances, usually alongside that of a LeBron James. He was at one time good enough to take home Rookie of the Year honors for the Orlando Magic, but those days are long gone.
12 Mike Dunleavy
How in the hell was Mike Dunleavy Jr. a 3rd overall pick? The same way that he has made it 15 total years in the NBA. His dad… Just kidding. Consistency. Mike Dunleavy was the poster child for consistency during his time at Duke University. He has a well formed jump shot and will knock down open shots from both inside and beyond the arc. Rightfully so, his nickname is “the Natural”.
11 Jameer Nelson
Jameer Nelson had a lengthy and respectable tenure during his run in Orlando. Coming out of St. Joe’s, Nelson was undersized but has always played with a chip on his shoulder; a guy who plays much bigger than his stature shows. He sees the floor well and has a unique ability to score. He is a big reason why alongside Dwight Howard (pre-diva era), that the Magic were able to make a Finals push in 2008-09 only to fall short at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers.
10 Richard Jefferson
Unlike the Birdman and Jones duo, Jefferson has only been with LeBron in Cleveland, avoiding him being involved in the LeBron’s Boys group. Richard finally received his first NBA ship last year with the Cav’s, but he had other opportunities early on in his career with the New Jersey Nets.
9 Marvin Williams
Would anyone guess that the one-time NCAA Champion Marvin Williams is… 30 years old?! The 2nd overall pick in 2005 is still producing double digit points that would be assumed to continue for the next few years. At 30, a lot of the NBA is just getting into their prime or in the midst of it and Marvin has been doing what he does consistently for the last 12 years.
8 David West
In a solid and durable 14 year career, David West has given steadfast and often dominant seasons in nearly 10 of them. He has been the ultimate team player, serving it up offensively and defensively for whatever team he represents at that time. At this point in his career, it is all about finding himself a ring.
7 Al Jefferson
As one of what seems like few successful high school to professional draft picks, the veteran Al Jefferson has been killing the game for 13 years and is only 32 years of age. By being drafted so young, Jefferson seems like a thing of the past, or a has been. Some forget he is in the league as he was a part of some poor NBA teams in Boston, Minnesota, Utah and Charlotte.
6 Jeff Green
Everyone knows that Oklahoma City had three superstars and looking back, the potential that team had to build off of was unbelievable. You can’t help to think, what could have been. But for just less than two full seasons, Oklahoma City had their three young studs in Durant, Westbrook, and Harden, but they also had one more weapon in the versatile Jeff Green. Jeff started out hot in his career, always hanging around 15 PPG and 5-6 RPG. He was capitalizing on his opportunities and gelled nicely with the young core as everyone could learn and grow together.
5 Joe Johnson
A man they call “Iso Joe” & “Armadillo Cowboy” is next up on the list. Joe Johnson has been a model for durability and consistency over a 16 year NBA career. At his worst, Joe appeared in 57 total games in 2007 but started and played in all 82 games in 2006 and 2008. For his career, the 35 year old has plugged in 16.5 PPG and knocked in 25 PPG during his first of 7 all-star seasons. Joe is the man and has been doing it under the radar and quietly for so long, he deserves some recognition.
4 Tyson Chandler
It is hard to believe that the agile high school draft pick is now in his 16th year in the NBA and remains a highly respected big man this late in his career. The crazy thing is that Chandler is only 34. The age of 34 is not young for an NBA athlete by any means, but Tyson is still playing almost 30 minutes a game and averaging double digit rebounds.
3 Metta World Peace
Metta World Peace AKA Ron Artest, will best be known either for his tenacious defensive presence or the Malice in the Palace. Metta has always been an odd individual, asking guys like Stephen Jackson if he thought they would get in trouble for fighting multiple fans and beating one with his own shoe one night in Detroit. He is certainly a character and a guy with a lot of energy.
2 Paul Pierce
If it wasn’t for a recent trip into Boston and the TD Garden, Paul Pierce would not have been any sort of headline. “The Truth” had decided at the beginning of the 2016-17 season that it would be the last of the future Hall of Famers career. There is no arguing what Pierce has done in his time with Boston, nor just his overall impact on the league.
1 Vince Carter
One of the most exciting players ever to lace up is now 40 years old and still producing! One season away from his 20th overall, Vinsanity is exactly that. At his age, he has gained a little weight and lost a step or two, but the gritty Memphis Grizzly is still relevant despite being one of the oldest players in the league.
In his prime, Vince was a consistent scorer averaging upwards of 25 PPG. He could jam from anywhere in any form and even has been known to leap over 7 footers in international play (absurd). Now, he rakes in about 9 on a nightly basis but that is all the Western Conference contending Grizzlies require of sir Vince. The current 6th place team continues to use great defense and a well-oiled half-court offense to wear down opponents. Vince is clinging onto the hope to add another ring to his collection.
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