If you play for a small market team or even worse, have the “bad luck” to share the court with one of the best basketball players in the world, it’s pretty safe to expect that you’re not going to get much attention from the media or the fans.
Some basketball players constantly fly under the radar but their teams miss them a lot whenever they’re not on the floor, either because of their hustle and intangibles or because they just do so many little things that stars have a clear path to do what they do best.
Obviously, these hard working guys don’t get the recognition or the money they could be getting elsewhere had they were the team’s star, while others aren’t good enough to single-handedly carry a team by themselves, but prove to be an extremely capable role player.
Today, we’re going to let you know about some of the best team players that are extremely productive but are never going to be at the podium for a post-game interview, so you show them more appreciation and love from now on.
7. Tyreke Evans
It’s been a very long while since we all expected Tyreke Evans to be a major offensive force in the Association, but now that he’s finally matured, it seems like he’s found his niche as the first player off the Memphis Grizzlies’ bench, playing both guard positions as well as some small forward in some small ball sets.
Evans is currently playing the best ball of his career and has had some quite impressive stat lines this year despite not being a starter, currently averaging 17.9 points, 5.2 boards and 3.6 assists in 50% from the floor with 1.3 steals and a 23.7 PER, the highest of his career, and his best averages among all the stat sheet since his rookie season when he took home the ROY.
6. Tim Hardaway Jr
It’s pretty safe to say that Tim Hardaway Jr isn’t nearly as talented as his father, but truth to be told, he’s not as bad as he was during his first stint with the New York Knicks either, and that Atlanta Hawks tenure really helped him get things together to try his luck once again in the Big Apple.
A lot of people questioned the New York Knicks when they handed him a huge contract after dealing him away for spare parts, but so far, he’s really paid off. Through 17 games, THJ is averaging a career-high 18.4 points to go along with 4.5 boards, 3.3 dimes and 1.2 steals (also career highs).
5. Enes Kanter
Another New York Knick makes our list, as even though Kristaps Porzingis gets all of the spotlights in the Madison Square Garden, Kanter is yet another reason why New York is en route to a very promising start of the season on the verge of the post Carmelo Anthony era despite all their doubters.
Kanter is never going to be a prolific defender but he’s always been an extremely productive player on a per minute basis and a walking source of scoring and boards, and he’s taken his game up a notch this year with the Knickerbockers, posting season averages of almost 14 points and 10 rebounds on 65% from the floor with a 24.5 PER.
4. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is one of the most versatile players in the league that nobody ever talks about, and he’s become something like a poor man’s Draymond Green minus the playmaking skills. This year, he’s played from the shooting guard spot all the way to the center, and he hasn’t disappointed a bit so far.
The Brooklyn Nets aren’t exactly a team you’d like to watch, but RHJ has been quite a good player in both ends of the hardwood, posting very respectable averages of 15.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.9 dimes, 1 steal and 0.8 blocks in just 28 minutes per game, and he’d be better off elsewhere on an actual contender.
3. Jeremy Lamb
Jeremy Lamb seemed poised for stardom as a scoring machine, but lack of consistency and playing time have taken a major toll on his development until this season, where various injuries forced him to step up and rack a lot of minutes until he finally earned his spot as the Charlotte Hornets 6th man.
Lamb has shown a lot of improvement this season, at least offensive wise, and he’s posting career averages in every important area, scoring 16.5 points with over 5 rebounds, 3 helpers and almost a steal in under 29 minutes per game on a career-high 46% from the floor and 40% from three-point territory.
2. TJ Warren
With Devin Booker, Tyler Ulis, Alex Len, Marquese Chriss and now even Josh Jackson in town, TJ Warren is pretty much the odd man out in the team’s future plans, or at least that’s what may seem for the uneducated eye when they watch the young Phoenix Suns play.
Actually, Warren has been the most solid player in the team’s rotation alongside Booker and he’s been a major defensive contributor even despite their huge defensive woes as a whole unit. After being constantly in the trade block, Warren has locked himself as a starter at the desert with averages of 18.7 points, 6.2 rebounds 1.3 assists, 0.8 steals and 0.8 blocks with a 19 PER in almost 50% from the floor, although his lack of stroke from beyond the arc is still a major concern going forward.
1. Jaylen Brown
Jaylen Brown came to the league with a lot of hype as the 3rd overall pick the past season and even though he didn’t have flashy numbers, he didn’t disappointed with some very good performances overall in both ends of the floor, as he didn’t hesitate to grab very difficult defensive assignations and was a very effective scorer on a limited amount of touches.
Now, entering his second year he was forced to mature way faster than expected with Gordon Hayward’s season-ending injury, and he has truly lived up to the task and the expectations ever since. He’s one of the frontrunners to take home the Most Improved Player award this season if he can keep momentum going and maintain those averages of 16.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1 dime and 1.2 steals per game with just 1.6 turnovers in 47% from the floor and 41% from three, and he doesn’t get enough credit for the Celtics’ hot streak with Kyrie, Tatum and Horford in town.
Unless otherwise cited, all stats are courtesy of NBA.com or Basketball Reference and current leading into games on Nov. 24.