Everybody knows about the superstars in the NBA today. Players such as Stephen Curry, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, and Russell Westbrook. These are the players that you build franchises and teams around. They can take over a game at any point and are almost impossible to guard. Ask anybody that had had to check Curry. These MVPs, All-Stars, and NBA Champions have a worldwide fanbase. Although these are some of the best players in the world, what about the players that are valuable to their teams that nobody talks about or even notices?
In the 2013 NBA Finals, the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs faced off. The Heat's "Big 3" (Chris Bosh, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade) carried this team to the playoffs and throughout the playoffs, but nobody talks about Ray Allen's big shot in game six of the Finals that saved their season. Allen hit a three-pointer that eventually sent the two teams to a Game 7 matchup and eventually an NBA Championship for the Heat. If Allen never hit that shot, the Spurs would have beat the Heat in six games.
Robert Horry is a seven-time NBA Champion that everybody knows about, but never gets credit for his role on those championship team. During his championships with the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, and San Antonio Spurs, he hit game winners or big shots to help his teams win the game, which is how he earned the nickname "Big Shot Bob." Although Horry is not considered a star, those teams may not have won some of those championships without his clutch shooting. Horry and Allen's performances are examples of players that are overlooked and underrated.
30 Atlanta Hawks - Jeff Teague
Atlanta Hawks PG Jeff Teague made his first All-Star game appearance last season due to the success of the Hawks at the time. The Hawks ended the season with a 60-22 record, the best record in franchise history and in the Eastern Conference. Teague played a huge role in their success and has done so since he entered the starting lineup during his third season in 2011. Since Teague joined the Hawks in 2009, the team has made the playoffs every single season, which is six straight seasons, including the Eastern Conference Finals last season. Before Tegaue, the Hawks made the playoffs two times in the last 10 seasons.
29 Boston Celtics - Jae Crowder
The Boston Celtics are currently having their best season since 2010-11, when the Celtics went 56-26. One reason is the play of Isaiah Thomas, who was moved into the starting lineup earlier in the season with the injury of Marcus Smart. The Celtics success has also come from the career year Jae Crowder is having. This season, Crowder is averaging 14.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.9 apg and 1.8 spg, which are all career highs. Crowder is currently hurt and will miss about 3-4 weeks, so the Celtics should have him back by playoff time, but they will miss him while he's gone.
28 Brooklyn Nets - Brook Lopez
The Brooklyn Nets big man Brook Lopez is one of the best unknown centers in the league and has been like this his whole career. Lopez does not receive the credit he deserves because he had a injury bug for a while and the Nets are not exactly world beaters. From 2011 to 2014, Lopez played in a total of 96 games. However, when Lopez is healthy, there is no question he is one of the best big men in the game. In eight seasons, including this season, Lopez has a career average of 18.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg and 1.8 bpg.
27 Charlotte Hornets - Kemba Walker
Straight up, Kemba Walker is one of the most underrated point guards in the league. When there is a discussion about the top PGs in the league, Walker's name is never brought up or even thought of. Well, this season Walker decided to prove to everybody just how good he is. This season, the Hornets have the potential to have the best season in their franchise history and that is all thanks to Mr. Walker. This season Walker is averaging career highs, and has carried the team despite most of the players being hurt throughout the season at one point, including big man Al Jefferson who has missed 34 games due to injury.
26 Chicago Bulls - Taj Gibson
The Chicago Bulls have had success in the league recently, making the playoffs the last seven seasons. Taj Gibson has been on the team for six of those seasons and had played a role in how well they are playing. Gibson is not really talked about because he is a role player and usually comes off the bench for the Bulls, but Gibson plays both sides of the ball well and gives the Bulls great minutes. This season, the Bulls have been flooded with injuries and Gibson has been moved into the starting lineup. While starting, Gibson has played well with the Bulls playoff hopes in the air.
25 Cleveland Cavaliers - Iman Shumpert
Most people know about Iman Shumpert from his time with the New York Knicks. Shumpert was known as an elite defender, but then tore his ACL in 2012. After the injury, Shumpert did not seem the same and was shipped off the the Cleveland Cavaliers. This season with the Cavs, Shumpert seems to be getting his legs back under him and looks healthy. Shumpert is known for his defense, but can also shoot the ball well. In the playoffs, Shumpert will play a huge role off the bench if the Cavs expect to go far in the postseason.
24 Dallas Mavericks - Chandler Parsons
With Dirk Nowitzki getting older, Chandler Parsons might be the best all-around player on the Mavericks roster right now. Parsons is a pretty good defender, can shoot the three well, and can drive to the basket. Also, Parsons has one of the best pump fakes in the league that keeps opponents guessing whether he is going to shoot or not. In the 2013-14 season, for the Rockets, Parson had a career year averaging 16.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg, and 4 apg and has been similarly good for Dallas.
23 Denver Nuggets - Will Barton
Most people recognize Will Barton's name from this season's dunk contest, but Barton is more than just a high-flyer. Barton is a top candidate for this year's Sixth Man of the Year Award and has played well for the Denver Nuggets. Throughout this current season, Barton is averaging career high numbers. Barton may have only started in only one game this season but the Nuggets are not a good team and Barton is showing that he can do more then just dunk the ball.
22 Detroit Pistons - Tobias Harris
During the trade deadline, Tobias Harris was traded form the Orlando Magic to the Detroit Pistons. Harris is a great all-around player, with the strongest part of his game coming from his offense. When Harris entered the starting lineup, the Pistons won seven of their next ten games. Harris can shoot and drive to the basket at will and can play defense as well. He is not a star player but he is a great role player and does what he needs to do for his team to win. Harris is averaging 14.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg and 2.1 apg with the Magic and Pistons this season.
21 Golden State Warriors - Andrew Bogut
Everybody knows that the main players for the Golden State Warriors success are Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, but center Andrew Bogut plays a big role for them on both sides. Bogut is known for being a rim protecter, but he also helps the offense flow better with his pick-and-roll, screens and his passing on offense as well. Bogut played a big part in the Warriors going 67-15 last season and winning an NBA Championship.
20 Houston Rockets - Trevor Ariza
The Houston Rockets made a great decision when they got Trevor Ariza last season. Ariza is a great all-around player, as he is a great on ball defender and can shoot lights out from behind the arc. Ariza also puts the ball on the floor and drives to the basket when he's feeling it. Ariza is averaging 12.5 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.2 apg and 2.1 dog (career high) on a team with superstar James Harden and big man Dwight Howard. Ariza is not a Harden type of player but he means a lot to the team for them to be successful. In Ariza's first season with the Rockets, they made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals.
19 Indiana Pacers - Monta Ellis
Monta Ellis is probably one of the most underrated played in the NBA. Ellis has also been one of the best scorers in the league, as he can shoot, drive, pass, and has the whole offensive package that teams love. However, his defense is not good, but it's decent. This season Ellis is averaging 14.5 ppg, which is the lowest in his career since his rookie season in 2005-06. Ellis is usually the second and sometimes even the first scoring options on the teams he plays for. This season, he is the second scoring option for the Indiana Pacers behind All-Star Paul George. However, the Pacers lost three starters from a team that went to the Eastern Conference Finals a couple of season ago and Ellis helped replaced them as they are in the playoff hunt this season.
18 Los Angeles Clippers - J.J. Redick
The Los Angeles Clippers are having some of the best seasons in their franchise history and that is because of the play of superstars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, but there are other players that play a big part in their success. DeAndre Jordan is starting to get his recognition as one of the best big men in the league, but J.J. Redick is having a great season that nobody is talking about. Redick is averaging 16.9 ppg (career high) and shooting 48.2% from three, which is a career high as Redick seems to be getting better every season.
17 Los Angeles Lakers - Julius Randle
Last season, Julius Randle was a rookie but his season ended after he suffered a season-ending injury in the first game of the year. This season, with everybody focusing on the retirement of "The Black Mamba" Kobe Bryant, other players are getting looked over. Randle is having a great season for a player basically in his first year. Randle is averaging 11.7 ppg and 10.1 rpg. With Bryant departing after this season, Randle will probably be one of the main focuses on offense next season. Randle has the potential to be one of the best big men in the league if he puts the work in.
16 Memphis Grizzlies - Mike Conley
With so many star point guards in the NBA today, Mike Conley continues to get overlooked every season, despite the Grizzlies having success every season. With guards such as Stephen Curry, Kyle Lowry, Russell Westbrook, John Wall, Chris Paul, Kyrie Irving, and Damian Lillard, it makes sense why Conley is overlooked. However, that does not mean he doesn't deserve to at least be mentioned in the conversation of the top PGs in the league. This season Conley is averaging 15.3 ppg, 6.1 apg and 1.2 spg. The Grizzlies have suffered the most injuries this season as every single starter is hurt at this time, including Conley, which may hurt their chances of making the postseason.
15 Miami Heat - Goran Dragic
Goran Dragic is a great PG, although he is never mentioned in the top PGs conversation, which makes sense because he played for the Phoenix Suns most of his career and he is not as good as the Currys and Westbrooks of the league. Dragic is a solid all-around PG though and can have an immediate impact on a team. This season, Dragic is not having the best season because he has so much talent around him that he does not have to do as much. With Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Luol Deng, Joe Johnson, and Hassan Whiteside, Dragic does not have to do as much when he was in Phoenix, making his play is underrated in Miami.
14 Milwaukee Bucks - Khris Middleton
In this past offseason, the Milwaukee Bucks signed Khris Middleton to a five-year, $70 million contract and people thought that was too much for a player nobody knew or talked about. Well, Middleton may not be a household name but he is one of the best all-around guards in the league. This season, Middleton is showing the Bucks organization that they did not make a mistake. Middleton is averaging 18.5 ppg (career high), 4 rpg, 4.2 apg (career high), and 1.6 spg (career high) on the season.
13 Minnesota Timberwolves - Ricky Rubio
Minnesota Timberwolves PG Ricky Rubio has some of the best court vision in the league. He can make a full court, between the opponent's legs pass to his teammate if he wanted to. Rubio is also a great defender, but his only flaw is his offensive game, which makes him a true PG. Rubio looks for his teammates first before he even thinks of taking a shot. Rubio is averaging 10.1 ppg, 8.8 apg, and 2 spg this season. Rubio is the perfect PG for the Timberwolves because they now have scorers in Andre Wiggins, Karl Anthony-Towns, and Zach Lavine. Rubio just has to be the floor director and get his team good touches.
12 New Orleans Pelicans - Jrue Holiday
This season, PG Jrue Holiday is averaging 16.2 ppg, 6 apg, and 1.3 spg for the New Orleans Pelicans. These stats might not sound great, but Holiday hasn't been a regular starter as he has taken to a sixth man role this season and it is working out for him and the Pelicans. The Pelicans have suffered the injury bug this season so their record is not really good, but Holiday may be the lead runner for the Sixth Man of the Year Award.
11 New York Knicks - Robin Lopez
New York Knicks big man Robin Lopez is not one of the best in the game, but he does what he needs to do to get the win. Lopez has showed some signs of being an elite big man at times this season, but his inconsistency is what holds him back. In a game against the Los Angeles Clippers, who have one of the best big men in DeAndre Jordan, Lopez finished the game with 20 points and 19 rebounds. Lopez is a good defender and can score when he gets good position in the post.
10 Oklahoma City Thunder - Enes Kanter
Although Enes Kanter doesn't start for the Oklahoma City Thunder, mainly because Steven Adams plays better defense than him, he is still a great big man to have on any team. This season, Kanter is averaging 12.3 ppg and 7.8 rpg off the bench. Kanter has not started in one game this season and is still putting up better numbers than centers starting in the NBA. Last season, when the Thunder had half of their team injured, Kanter was their go-to guy, as he averaged 18.7 ppg and 11 rpg in 26 starts with the injury to Adams. Kanter will be a big X-Factor for the Thunder in this year's playoffs.
9 Orlando Magic - Nikola Vucevic
Nikola Vucevic is probably the best big man in the league that nobody knows or talks about. Vucevic started his career backing up Dwight Howard. Once Howard departed, Vucevic took over and proved that he was not a backup type of player. Since starting for the Magic, Vucevic has averaged double figures in points every single season and double digit rebounds three of the last four years. This season, Vucevic is averaging 17.8 ppg and 9 rpg. The only flaw in his game is his defense, which he has improved this season. If Vucevic can get continue to improve in his own end and have the Magic winning more games, he will be an All-Star in the next couple of years.
8 Philadelphia 76ers - Ish Smith
Before the season started, Ish Smith was released by the Washington Wizards and had no place to call home. The New Orleans Pelicans picked him up and he was one of their best guards off the bench. When the Philadelphia 76ers started to get a lot of injuries, they traded for Ish Smith, which is the best decision they have made all season. Smith entered the starting lineup immediately and prior to Smith coming to the 76ers, they had a record of 1-30. Since Smith has been on the roster, they are 8-29, which is good for the 76ers. Although the 76ers are still a really bad team, they are better than what they were before thanks to the play of Smith.
7 Phoenix Suns - Eric Bledsoe
Eric Bledsoe has always been a guard that plays like a big man. For his first three seasons, Bledsoe backed up superstar Chris Paul which shows in his fearless game today. When Bledsoe got fed up with being in CP3's shadow, he took his talents to the Phoenix Suns where he flourished. In 31 games this season, Bledsoe averaged 20.4 ppg, 6.1 apg, and 2 spg, which all career highs, before he underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee and was ruled out for the season. Prior to Bledose's injury, the Suns had a record of 12-19, which is not good, but they have struggled more without him. Bledsoe has already declared he is going to come back better than ever.
6 Portland Trail Blazers - C.J. McCollum
With the departure of four starters this season, the Trail Blazers were predicted to have a rebuilding season, which means they weren't going to be that good. However, with the only starter remaining, Damian Lillard, and with the breakout season C.J. McCollum is having, the Blazers are in the playoff talk. With most of the team leaving, somebody from the Blazers needed to step up and McCollum was that person Last season, McCollum averaged 6.8 ppg, 1.5 rpg, and 1 apg. This season, those numbers are way up as McCollum is the forerunner for Most Improved Player this season. Lillard and McCollum have become one of the best backcourts in the league now. If the Blazers can add some more pieces next season, they will be dangerous.
5 Sacramento Kings - Rudy Gay
Rudy Gay has always been a solid all-around player, but has never been noticed because he has players on his team that were just as or even more talented. With the Memphis Grizzlies, Gay was on the same team as Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, and Zach Randolph, so he was overlooked as just a role player, although he led the team in scoring numerous seasons. Then he went to the Toronto Raptors with Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. Now he is on a team with DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo. Despite being underrated his whole career, Gay has always went out and performed.
4 San Antonio Spurs - David West
After being a player that teams looked at for scoring and making big plays in crunch time, David West joined the San Antonio Spurs as a player off the bench in order to chase a NBA Championship. The last four seasons, West played for the Indiana Pacers and helped them to two Eastern Conference Championships. Now West has become a role player in hopes of going to his first NBA Finals. With Tim Duncan retiring soon, West could stay with the Spurs and be a big part of their offense.
3 Toronto Raptors - DeMarre Carroll
This season, DeMarre Carroll has only played in 23 games due to an injury, but when he is on the court, he is very effective. Carroll can shoot and is a great defender. Last season, Carroll helped the Atlanta Hawks to a franchise best record of 60-22. The Raptors are second in the Eastern Conference without Carroll. Once he comes back, the Raptors will have the best chance of defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers in hopes of getting to the NBA Finals. In his 23 games this season, Carroll is averaging 11.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg, and 1.7 spg.
2 Utah Jazz - Derrick Favors
Derrick Favors is a pretty good all-around player but the fact that he plays for the Utah Jazz, who have not been relevant since John Stockton and Karl Malone, does not help his case very much. Favors can defend, shoot the mid-range sho,t and has a nice post game as well. This season, Favors is averaging some career high numbers while the Jazz fight for a playoff spot.
1 Washington Wizards - Bradley Beal
Bradley Beal is one of the best SGs in the league, but his only issue, besides his shaky defense, is that he get hurts entirely too often. Since Beal entered the NBA in 2012, he has not played an entire season. Beal along with All-Star John Wall have been mentioned in talks about being one of the best backcourts in the NBA, but since Beal is always hurt, there are few times that they are on the court together. This season Beal is averaging 17.7 ppg (career high), 3.4 rpg, 2.8 apg, and 1 spg (career high). Beal is also shooting a career high 45.2% from the field. If Beal can stay healthy, the Wizards would be a much better team. This is Beal's contract year, so it will be interesting to see what the Wizards do with him.