The NBA is a very statistical heavy league.
Generally speaking, the players who have the best stats are the players who win the Association’s major awards. Take reigning MVP Russell Westbrook for example. Westbrook had a historic season but the Thunder finished sixth in the Western Conference and was knocked out in the first round of the playoffs. I’m not saying Westbrook didn’t deserve to be named MVP though personally I thought Harden was more deserving. It is just an example of how stat oriented the league is.
There are definitely players who don’t put up the huge statistical number but are definitely valuable. Here is a look at nine such players.
Gortat is the perfect center for Washington’s guard-oriented offense. The 6-11 center is very skilled, especially around the rim, but what makes him valuable is like the others on this list is that he knows his role. And he doesn’t really try to do something that he is not capable of.
The Polish Hammer is a very good defensive rebounder who also is an excellent rim protector. He is a good screener and doesn’t mind to bang in the low post. Plus, as his name implies, he is the team’s de facto enforcer.
Gortat is averaging 10.5 points and 8.7 rebounds while shooting 56.0% from the field this year through 15 games. He ranks second in the league in screen assists with 5.1 a game and ranks amongst the top-75 in charges taken. In addition, Gortat is 26th in the league in contested shots while also posting +4.5 plus/minus rating.
Adams is similar to Gortat though much more athletic. Adams is also a fierce competitor and has a high motor.
Offensively, the 7-footer is very good in pick and roll situations as well as fantastic on the offensive glass. He does almost all of his damage on the offensive end in the paint and is highly efficient.
Defensively, he is an excellent rim protector who can swat away shots. He is a physical defender that likes to bang and will get in the head of opponents -- he’ s the Thunder’s enforcer.
Just 24 years old, Adams is still growing as a player. He is currently having his best season to date, producing 12.6 points and 8.3 caroms along with 1.3 blocks while shooting 66.0% from the floor. Adams ranks 12th in the NBA in offensive rebounding and ninth in second-chance points. He is also sixth in screen assists (4.4), sixth in contested shots and in the top-50 in deflections. In addition, Adams is 19th in blocks (1.6) and 30th in steals (1.3).
Thompson is the epitome of hustle. The extremely athletic 6-9 power forward/center is at his best when he is rebounding the ball at a high level and finishing at the rim off putbacks and/or lobs.
Thompson, who is currently out injured, like the rest of his Cavs’ teammates did not get off to the best start this season. Still, that should not diminish his value to the team. He is an excellent offensive rebounder who is the Cavaliers lone rim protector. He likes to be physical and will get up into his man when he gets the ball. Thompson also is good in pick-n-roll situations and will always sprint into the play.
Thompson ranks 11th in screen assists (3.5), and 25th in both contested 2pt shots as well as 25th in contested shots overall. He is 23rd in offensive rebounding percentage and ranks in the top-40 in both defensive rebounding percentage and rebounding percentage overall.
The 2016-17 Defensive Player of the Year is very versatile and can do a little bit of everything. Green can play all three frontcourt positions while he can guard all five positions. His two major weaknesses are shot selection and as a rim protector though he will block some shots.
Green is very physical and loves to mix it up in the low-post. He also has no problem getting floor burns as a result of diving on the floor or taking charges. The 6-7 forward is also an excellent screener.
Green is 19th in blocks per game (1.3) and 75th in steals (1.1). He also ranks in the top-50 of the league in deflections, loose ball recoveries and contested shots.
Young is very similar to Green without the flamboyance. Granted he is not the defender, rebounder, passer or versatile player that Green is. However, Young is a better scorer and shooter.
Young has a high motor and the ability to guard all three frontcourt positions. He also has the skillset to have the offense run through him.
The 6-8 forward ranks 20th in steals (1.6). He is also second in deflections (3.7), in the top-50 in loose ball recoveries (1.0), in the top-100 in screen assists, top-50 in charges drawn as well as top-50 in contested shots.
Butler has taken more of a servant role with the Timberwolves. He is an elite two-way player who is currently averaging 15.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.0 dimes. And the truth is he would be putting up better numbers than he is if he was shooting closer to his career percentages than he is. The 28-year-old is shooting just 39.7% from the field and 29.5% from beyond the arc.
The point being, why is counted on to fill up the stat sheet. He also has the ability to defend, handle the ball, and set others up.
Butler plays with a high motor. He has no problem diving on the floor or getting into a ball handlers grill. The 6-7 wing ranks fifth in deflections per game (3.5), third in loose ball recovered (1.6) and in the top-50 in charges drawn. He is also 14th in steals.
Chandler is 35-years old yet he is still a monster on the boards and a good screener. The 7-1 center has never been a huge scorer though he has always been efficient, mainly scoring on putbacks and lobs. The biggest knock on him has been his inability to stay healthy. Chandler is also a solid rim protector.
Chandler, who is first on the Suns in plus/minus among players who have been in the rotation regularly, ranks seventh in screen assists, 34th in contested 2-pt shots and in the top 100 in contested shots overall.
If Thompson is the epitome of hustle, Beverley is the definition of “more valuable than his stats”. Beverley has never been a big stat person. In fact, his 12.5 points a game that he is currently averaging along with the 5.9 rebounds and 4.2 dimes that he produced last year are all career highs for the sixth year pro.
Beverley plays hard all the time. The defensive oriented point guard is one of the biggest pests to opposing ball-handlers. And has no problem picking up full court.
Beverley has missed four straight games with a knee injury. He is second on the team in plus/minus. The 2016-17 All-Defensive First team selection ranks fifth in steal percentage,35th in deflections, ninth in loose ball coveries and 10th in charges taken this year.
The Pistons are off to their best start in years. A major reason why is there offseason addition of Avery Bradley.
Bradley has been terrific on the offensive end. The 6-3 combo guard is on pace to produce a career-high in scoring and three-point makes.
Bradley is an outstanding defender and the Pistons are definitely better defensively this year. Detroit ranks sixth in scoring defense and 13th in defensive rating. Both statistical areas are better than they were last year.
However, Bradley has struggled this year on that end of the court. Among all shooting guards, he only ranks 30th in real plus-minus due to his negative -0.83 defensive rating. Bradley does rank 32nd in steals (1.4) and is 14th in value added among shooting guards.