Great basketball teams have to have great role players willing to give up most of their numbers in order to do what’s best for the team, regardless of it that means taking less money, less shots and obviously, less highlights.
Over the course of history, we’ve witnessed some greatly balanced teams being led by top-notch offensive superstars, but people tend to forget those hard-working behind-the-scenes kind of players.
Today, we’re going to remember you about some low profile guys that really helped their successful teams reach their goals, letting you know about the top 10 forgotten NBA players in great starting 5s.
10. Charlie Ward
Charlie Ward started as the New York Knicks point guard during the 1988-99 campaign, recording season averages of just under 8 points, 3.4 dimes and 2.1 steals per game at the MSG.
During that season, the Knickerbockers were huge title contenders with a starting five consistent of Patrick Ewing, Latrell Sprewell, Allan Houston, Larry Johnson and… Charlie Ward, and perhaps they would’ve won the Chip had they featured a better playmaker on their team.
9. Rick Mahorn
During the 1988-89 season, Rick Mahorn was the starting power forward for the Detroit Pistons, one of the most memorable teams in all NBA history as the first ever Bad Boys due to their hard-nosed physical basketball.
Mahorn posted season averages of 7.8 points, 6.9 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per contest, but naturally, most of the attention was heading towards the rest of the lineup, featuring Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Mark Aguirre and Bill Laimbeer, winning their first franchise title that season.
8. Jason Collins
Truth to be told, Jason Collins is mostly remembered because he was the first NBA player to be courageous enough to come out of the closet, rather than his actual impact on a basketball hardwood.
During the 2002-03 campaign, Collins was the New Jersey Nets’ starting center, recording averages of 5.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 0.5 swats a contest, playing next to Jason Kidd, Kenyon Martin, Kerry Kittles and Richard Jefferson.
7. Devean George
2003-04 wasn’t much of a good season for the Los Angeles Lakers, being completely destroyed in the NBA Finals by the Detroit Pistons and watching Shaquille O’Neal head towards the door at the end of the campaign.
But what made this season a huge failure is the fact that they had put together a monster squad with Gary Payton, Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone, Shaq and.. Devean George at Small Forward, who averaged 7.4 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.
6. Kurt Rambis
Kurt Rambis started at Power Forward for the Los Angeles Lakers during the 1984-85 season, posting year averages of 5.2 points and 6.4 rebounds to go along with 0.8 assists and 1 steal per game.
Rambis would go on to win his 2nd of 4 NBA Championships that season, playing next to Magic Johnson, Byron Scott, James Worthy and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, so you know he really had an easy job to do.
5. A.C. Green
Green was probably the only Laker who won the title with Magic and Kareem, and with Kobe and Shaq. I’m that you know that he was a starter when Los Angeles Lakers won 2 NBA Championships (1987. 1988), but he was also a starter when they beat the Philadelphia Sixers in the 2000 NBA Finals.
With 9.6 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game, A.C. Green was a very good defender and probably one of the most underrated players in Lakers history.
4. Sean Elliott
The San Antonio Spurs were the team to beat following Jordan’s second retirement and they lived up to the expectations, going the distance to win their first ever NBA Championship after dominating throughout the entire regular season.
That season, Sean Elliott would go on to average 11.2 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game at Small Forward, playing next to Mario Elie, Avery Johnson, David Robinson and Tim Duncan as well.
3. Kendrick Perkins
Kendrick Perkins was the Boston Celtics’ defensive specialist during their latest Championship run, helping ease some pressure off Kevin Garnett’s shoulders due to his bully and physical kind of play down low.
Obviously, his lack of offensive skills and charisma made everybody forget about him, and his season averages of 6.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game throughout the 07-08 season weren’t quite impressive, especially if he was playing next to Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.
2. Fabricio Oberto
Nobody seems to remember Francisco Oberto anymore, but his top-notch defense was key during the 2006-07 San Antonio Spurs Championship run, locking down the paint next to Tim Duncan en route to the Chip.
Following that campaign, he was able to get a hold onto the starting PF spot on Popovich’s team, posting season averages of 4.8 points and 5.2 boards per contest, playing next to Tony Parker, Bruce Bowen, Tim Duncan and Michael Finley.
1. DeShawn Stevenson
Against all odds, the Dallas Mavericks beat all opposition during the 2010-11 campaign, even sending LeBron James home empty-handed in one of the most exciting NBA Finals matchups we’ve seen in a while.
That team featured Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler, with DeShawn Stevenson starting 54 games that season with averages of 5.3 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game.