When you watch your favorite stars do their thing on the court, know that the success they bring doesn't come from them alone. Even the best NBA players needed a solid supporting cast to get the job done.
Guys like Glen Davis, Mario Chalmers, Borris Diaw, Steve Kerr and Derrick Fisher they all played a huge role in the success of their teams. The unlikeliest of suspects can sometimes be amongst the most important players on the team.
In this list, we count down some of the most amazing role players of 2017, and why they are so vital to their team:
10. Pau Gasol - San Antonio Spurs
Spurs big man Pau Gasol went from the second option in Los Angeles to third/fourth option in San Antonio. But that hasn't stopped him from being a major contributor to his team. At 37 years old, Pau averaged 12.4 points with 7.8 rebounds per game during the 2016/17 season. What also makes Pau so valuable is his tenacious defense, which he brings every game. Not to mention he's the perfect team player and never causes problems in the locker room. Gasol makes the perfect Spur. With him in the middle this upcoming season, San Antonio will have the stability down low that they love so much.
9. Jonas Valanciunas - Toronto Raptors
He lacks glamour, he lacks fame, and he lacks star power. But when Jonas Valanciunas plays well, the Raptors play well. If he was on any other team, his game may not be nearly as important. On the Raptors, however, his impact is felt. During the 2016/17 campaign, he put up 12 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. Those numbers don't necessarily pop out at anyone, but they give the Raptors some toughness on the inside. With Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan having the green light to shoot on the outside, Jonas serves as one of the teams additional options. For the Raptors, he's been a huge part of their success over the past few years.
8. Zach Randolph - Sacramento Kings
When Z-Bo moved to the bench this past season, most considered it the beginning of the end for his storied career. If that's true, he's going out with one hell of a performance. Randolph was such a part of the Grizzlies culture, they plan to retire the number 50 in his honor. When you talk about Grit and Grind, he was the guy everyone thought of. For a long while, he was the face of Memphis basketball. Even though he's playing for a different city now, he can still play an important role. His mental and physical toughness will be an awesome way for the young Sacramento players to grow up. He may not average 14 and 8 again, but he can still ball with the big boys.
7. Tristan Thompson - Cleveland Cavaliers
Tristan may be a victim of the "Kardashian curse" but he is still a vital part of the Cavaliers locker room. Thompson isn't the best defender and isn't one to score 15 points a night. But his energy grabbing rebounds give the team the spark it needs. Countless times, Tristan has shown up with his hustle at the biggest moments during the biggest games. Playing next to LeBron, Kyrie, and Love means he won't get many opportunities to score. For Thompson though, his biggest impact is energy, not scoring. No matter what he's doing on the floor, he's giving it everything he's got. And as one of the best offensive rebounders in the league, he's far from useless.
6. Enes Kanter - Oklahoma City Thunder
Ignore the issues that Kanter has on defense for a minute. Because if you've ever watched him live, you'll know just how much he does for his team. After so many missed shots, he's there to grab the rebound and give the team another chance to score. Every possession, he puts his back to the basket to give OKC the low post scoring they so desperately need. He gives the Thunder energy and hustle whenever he steps on the hardwood. He still has a long way to go if he wants a bigger role, but as one of the best offensive rebounders in the game, the Thunder would have a harder time without him.
5. Jamal Crawford - Minnesota Timberwolves
Jamal Crawford could very well be one of the greatest sixth men of all time. The three-time sixth man of the year winner has proved again and again that bench roles can be just as important as starting ones. As he ages, his efficiency has dipped a bit. But the ability to create his own shot off the dribble makes him a valuable bench addition. On the Wolves, his shooting will prove to be a huge help to a team that is, quite honestly, lacking true outside shooters. His veteran leadership and laid back attitude will make him one of Minnesota's most important players, as he was with the Clippers for so many seasons.
4. Jae Crowder - Boston Celtics
Remember all of those trade rumors the Celtics were in earlier this year? A big reason why a lot of those trades never materialized was that they didn't want to give up Jae Crowder. He's certainly not a big name, which is why a lot of people don't understand his value. Crowder only averaged 13.9 points per game in the 2016/17 season, but he got those numbers from all over the court. He can score inside, outside, and anywhere in between. He's also a brilliant defender and a great team player. When you talk about an all around game, Jae is one of the few in the league who lives up to that notion.
3. Patrick Beverly - Los Angeles Clippers
If you want defense, toughness and trash talk, Patrick Beverly is the man to call. He's no star point guard, and he probably never will be. And, good thing for him, he doesn't need to be. Night in and night out, Beverly will fight to the end if it means his team has a chance to win. He doesn't just talk, either. He's a decent point guard and one of the league's best defenders. And with the amount of All-Star point guards in the NBA, that's not a skill that goes unnoticed.
2. Eric Gordon - Houston Rockets
You can't have a list of the best role players of 2017, and not include the reigning sixth man of the year. The Rockets overachieved in 2016/17, and much of that was because of Gordon. The guy was pure money, and fit seamlessly in Mike D'Antoni's system. Even with a history riddled with injury and question marks, Eric Gordon became a go-to guy all season long. When you take a minute to think about Houston's roster in the past season, Gordon may have been the second or third best player. The guy definitely can't carry a team on his own. But he compliments the Rockets in a way that's revived his career in an alarming way.
1. Andre Iguodala - Golden State Warriors
Even for a team with 4 all-stars, a role playing bench guy is an important asset to have. Every team needs a humble player who's willing to do the dirty work. For the Warriors, Andre Iguodala is that guy. He ignites the team when it's not doing well, and keeps the team in check if it's doing great. He always does whatever the team needs, he's the guy that keeps everything together. Not to mention, he has a well-rounded game. Not only can he drive to the rim with extraordinary power and stop your opposing team's best player, but he's also developed a taste for the three-ball. The Warriors would still be an amazing team without him, they just wouldn't be the same. This could change in a heartbeat, but, for now, Iguodala is the best role player the NBA has because he plays his role so flawlessly.