The NBA is full of stars, such as Lebron James, Steph Curry, and Kevin Durant just to name a few. Yet, there are so many names in this league that are not talked about as much because they are underrated by everyone outside of the league. For a player to be underrated they have to blend in with a team and not stand out as a “big time” player.
Here are some players that I find to be underrated in the league.
Shaun Livingston is a great backup point guard. He runs the Golden State second unit and is able to keep the game under control while Curry is out of the game. While Curry stretches the floor with his shooting ability, Livingston is able to body up in the paint and get nice close shots. While Livingston has the ability to shoot, he takes advantage of his height and length against smaller point guards. It will be interesting to see how Livingston will lead the second unit for the Warriors without any big names besides Iguodala.
Middleton is the starting shooting guard for the Bucks, and the only thing that I can say is that he gets buckets. He averages 18 points in 36 minutes of action with the Bucks while adding about 4 assists and 4 rebounds per game. Middleton is a good all-around player that gives the Bucks a consistent scorer night in and night out. While Middleton may end up being out for this next entire season, he is still one of the most underrated players in the league right now.
Hood is the starting shooting guard for the Utah Jazz. This will be his third year in the league and this will be another year to grow. Last year Hood started every game he played in, averaging 14.5 points. That is 6 more points than the previous year, his rookie year. This year Rodney Hood can prove he was worth a first-round pick. He is a great shooter but he needs to be more aggressive for his game to elevate to the next level.
Bledsoe is the starting Point Guard for the Phoenix Suns. You know, the guy that plays next to Devin Booker. All joking aside, Bledsoe has seemed to have been overlooked with the addition and hype of Devin Booker and Brandon Knight. But, this is still Bledsoe’s team to control, and he needs to take control of the sub-par Suns. Bledsoe averaged 20 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds last year. Bledsoe is still a top point guard in this league, who knows how to drive to paint and score points.
Steven Adams is the starting Center for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Adams is in the works for a big year this season. With Kevin Durant now gone, Oklahoma is looking for a reliable asset, and Adams can fill the void. He is a rim protector that commands attention when he is in the game. The looming threat of a pick and roll between Adams and Westbrook is bad news for the opposing team. Adams averaged 6.7 rebounds and 8 points in 25 minutes of action last year. Now that Adams no longer has to share time with EnesKanter, look for Adams to be one of the top contenders for most improved this season.
Brook Lopez is the starting Center for the Brooklyn Nets. Lopez is the star of the show in Brooklyn and has been for a while now. There are no other good players on the Nets to help Brook win games, and because he is on a bad team he is often overlooked. Lopez averaged 7.8 rebounds and 20.6 points per game last year, a career best for Lopez. Yet, he was overlooked again this season because of Brooklyn’s poor performance in the season. Whenever Brooklyn has a bad game they can at least always rely on Lopez to give them points in the paint. Injuries have been a problem for Lopez throughout his career, but look for Lopez to be a possible all-star this upcoming season.
Reggie Jackson, aka “Bobby Shmurda,” is the starting Point Guard for the Pistons. Since Jackson was traded to the Pistons from OKC, he has been a tremendous success in Detroit. Averaging 18.5 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 7 assists in Detroit, Jackson has emerged as a truly good fit in Detroit. And now with Drummond emerging as an elite center in the league, Caldwell-Pope and Johnson growing into valuable pieces, and the addition of Tobias Harris, the Pistons are looking to make a playoff run. Jackson needs to be a leader on this team and control the game with his offense and improve his defense for the Pistons to be successful.
You can’t talk about underrated players without bringing up the most underrated player of all time- Brian Scalabrine, aka “White Mamba.” Brian Scalabrine is one of the greatest players to play the game of basketball. He should be compared to no one, except for Steve Novak and Matt Boner, who are on par with the elite skill level that Scalabrine has achieved throughout his success in the league.
Honorable Mentions: Jae Crowder, Nikola Jokic, and Will Barton
These players are not in any particular order either, except for Scalabrine who is on top of my list.