If you’re on an NBA roster and furthermore, getting starting minutes, you’ve got to be one of the most gifted athletes in the world, considering that thousands of youngsters intend to do so and just a handful can actually achieve it.
Nonetheless, even among those that have to be considered elite, a portion of the players stands out from the pack, either because of the media over hypes them or just because they’re the icing on top of the cake, the tip of the iceberg, the best ballers in the world.
Sadly for some others, sharing the court with those top-notch talents make them lose a lot of the spotlight they could be getting elsewhere, or even worse, make their development stall because they don’t get as much touches as they should to blossom as elite players.
Today, we’re bound to honor the most underrated players in the Association, pointing out the most snubbed guy by a team, as they don’t get enough recognition for their impact and help in the team they play for.
Atlanta Hawks - Kent Bazemore
The Atlanta Hawks are pretty much Dennis Schroder and some other guys at this point that they’ve lost Tim Hardaway Jr, Al Horford and Paul Millsap, so now Kent Bazemore is in a prime position to finally establish himself as the deadly scorer he’s showed glances he can become.
Bazemore has a nice shooting stroke, is fast, strong, athletic and has that killer mentality, so now that the Hawks are going to be a two-man show and won’t compete at all, we could expect some impressive stats from him.
Brooklyn Nets - DeMarre Carroll
The Brooklyn Nets landed one of the best defending wings in the Association in DeMarre Carroll, although his game diminished a bit during the prior campaign mostly due to injuries and the arrival of PJ Tucker to the Toronto Raptors.
Still, now that the Nets have put together a very intriguing squad, he’s going to be a key piece in some defensive sets, now that Allen Crabbe is the frontrunner to be the team’s starting small forward.
Boston Celtics - Marcus Smart
Marcus Smart was instrumental to the Boston Celtics’ success this prior campaign, being a very underrated playmaker and an outstanding backcourt defender, although he needs to improve his shooting to become an elite baller in this league.
Now that he’s lost a lot of weight and has lost Avery Bradley to help him in defensive duties, we’re about to see a whole new and reinforced Marcus Smart, and even though he’s never going to be the team’s star with Horford, Hayward and Irving on the roster, the flopper is going to be a major asset for the C’s this season.
Charlotte Hornets - Jeremy Lamb
The Charlotte Hornets have always struggled to be a threat from beyond the arc or an offensive threat for all that matters, and some of that has to be coach Clifford’s fault for not trusting Jeremy Lamb enough.
Jeremy Lamb is a deadly scorer that just hasn’t been trusted enough because of his defensive flaws, and he’s proven so with impressive offensive highlights every now and then when the Thunder and Hornets have needed him to step up due to injuries.
Chicago Bulls - Nikola Mirotic
Nikola Mirotic seemed to be the missing piece the Chicago Bulls needed in order to finally end LeBron James’ dominance in the East when they also featured Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Jimmy Butler, and even though he played under a system that was especially suited for him on Fred Hoiberg's spaced run and gun offense, he’s yet to prove his worth.
Nonetheless, Mirotic is still quite young and even though he may not ever become the prolific and deadly scorer everybody thought he’d become during his time at Real Madrid, he’s still got a major chance to succeed in this rebuilding Bulls squad.
Cleveland Cavaliers - JR Smith
If you thought Tristan Thompson as underrated, you just don’t give enough credit to JR Smith, and that’s mostly on him for all the bad boy attitude and charade he’s put through his entire NBA career, but truth to be told, he’s one of the most important players for the Cavs.
Smith is not only a streaky scorer that can shoot lights out when guarded, but also a very good backcourt defender and a guy that has learned how to embrace his role, that has matured and that was a major factor in the Cavs title a couple of seasons ago.
Dallas Mavericks - Nerlens Noel
Health and durability issues have taken a major toll in Nerlens Noel surge as one of the league's’ elite defensive big man, and now he’s not even the frontrunner to start at center for the Dallas Mavericks with Carlisle eager to let him ride the second unit.
Noel’s constant injuries have made people raised a lot of concerns around him and that’s why he didn’t get paid big time this offseason, but given the chance to actually play, he’s going to shut his doubters up and prove he’s worthy of the gamble for his rim protection and ability to own the glass.
Denver Nuggets - Wilson Chandler
Wilson Chandler, just like Nerlens Noel, has always struggled to stay healthy throughout a full season, but even with his constant nagging pains, he’s always been one of the most productive players on the court and an ultimate stat sheet stuffer.
Chandler can play and guard the shooting guard or either forward spot, is a very good rebounder, an offensive beast and a very mature player, and he’s going to have a substantial role as one of the Nugget’s lone veterans now that they’re in for another playoff-bound after some dismal campaigns.
Detroit Pistons - Avery Bradley
Avery Bradley had to be let go by the Boston Celtics after being one of the best players in the league this prior campaign, and even several colleagues of him were kind of shocked and offended when he wasn’t a part of the NBA’s All-Defense first team after what he did for the Celtics.
Now, he’s going to be perhaps the best player on a very bad team, and now that he’s entering a contract year, we can expect a monster season for a guy that can also play and guard at least 3 different positions and that’s always willing to put his body jeopardy for the team’s sake.
Golden State Warriors - Andre Iguodala
What Andre Iguodala has done for the Golden State Warriors is just incredible, embracing a lesser role after being an All-Star and the Nuggets and Sixers first offensive choice to become a steady front-runner to win the 6th Man of the Year award.
Iguodala’s defense and playmaking have been a key piece in Steve Kerr’s success abroad of the Warriors, and if you think he’s not underrated, you just have to take a peek at the guys he plays with and you’ll understand why he makes our list.
Houston Rockets - Clint Capela
Clint Capela has quietly earned the right to be the Houston Rockets starting center and he’s one of the best blossoming defensive talents in the Association right now, although he doesn’t get enough flashes because he has to share the spotlight with the MVP runner-up James Harden.
Capela’s lone concern so far has been his health, but whenever he’s been able to suit up, he’s been a terrific rim for the run and gun Houston Rockets, and now that he’s going to have Chris Paul running the point, his offensive numbers and efficiency are also on the rise as his new DeAndre Jordan
Indiana Pacers - Darren Collison
The Indiana Pacers are just kickstarting their rebuild and they’re trusting the rock to a familiar face, the former Pacer Darren Collison, a more than capable point guard that just hasn’t been able to live up to the expectations that have surrounded him through his career.
Collison is coming off a very bad season as the King primary ball handler, mostly because several off-court issues really took him mentally out of the game. Now, he’s going to prove he still has a lot left in the tank, trying to pursue a substitute role on a contender later on.
Los Angeles Clippers - Lou Williams
Lou Williams is one of the league’s most gifted scorers, and even though he’s unable to stop anybody, he can just single-handedly outscore his rivals on a Jamal Crawford kind of fashion, being a crossover master and being able to finish through contact to constantly force 4 point plays.
Now, he’s set to run the Clippers’ second unit alongside Milos Teodosic, although Rivers would rather to pair him with Patrick Beverley to provide more balance in the backcourt. Regardless of where or when he plays, you just can stop Sweet Lou from scoring.
Los Angeles Lakers - Larry Nance Jr
The young Los Angeles Lakers team features a lot of talented youngsters like Lonzo Ball, Jordan Clarkson, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, Kyle Kuzma and Ivica Zubac, so Larry Nance Jr has always been pretty much the odd man out in the team’s project.
Still, he’s been getting a lot of praise from his peers and superiors, as he always leaves his best on the court, improving on a yearly basis on the defensive end of the floor while being an athletic freak and an outstanding rebounder and dunker, and even though he’s not nearly as good as his old man, he’s going to have a very long NBA career for his team - first mentality.
Memphis Grizzlies - Mike Conley Jr
Perhaps it’s kind of shocking to see a proven player like Mike Conley Jr here on this list, but he’s most likely the most underrated player in the entire Association, constantly getting snubbed from Team USA, from All-NBA squads and even All-Star games despite being one of the main reasons why the Grizzlies are a regular team in the playoffs.
The Grizzlies were always considered to be Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph’s squad, but they wouldn’t be half as successful if it wasn’t for Conley, a point guard willing to sacrifice personal glory and that doesn’t get impressive stats because of the slow paced defensive-minded style the Grizzlies feature.
Miami Heat - Tyler Johnson
Tyler Johnson had a very tough time to stay healthy the prior campaign, losing a lot of playing time against Josh Richardson on the depth chart, but he’s still the frontrunner to be the Heat’s substitute point guard for this campaign.
Johnson is a very underrated playmaker, a guy that can push up-tempo with great ease and he’s even an above the average rebounder for his size, so barring injury, he’s set for a bounce-back season under Spoelstra’s tutelage this year.
Minnesota Timberwolves - Gorgui Dieng
Gorgui Dieng has made a terrific job balancing things in the paint for the Minnesota Timberwolves ever since holding onto the starting job left by the always injured center Nikola Pekovic, being the perfect compliment for standout prospect Karl-Anthony Towns.
Sadly, he’s pretty much a lock to lose his starting gig against one of Tom Thibodeau’s favorite guys in Taj Gibson, but he’s going to provide a lot of balance and energy off the bench for a Timberwolves squad that blew out dozens of leads with their second unit on the floor this prior campaign.
Milwaukee Bucks - Matthew Dellavedova
Matthew Dellavedova is one of the most sacrificed players you’ll find in the league, being more than willing to put his body on the line and even take things a bit too far in order to make opponents crazy, and if you don’t take our word for it, just ask Steph Curry.
Now, he’s got a minor role with the Milwaukee Bucks with Malcolm Brogdon and Giannis Antetokounmpo handling most of the playmaking duties, but his crafty and pesky defense make him a very valuable asset that any coach would like to have on his roster.
New Orleans Pelicans - Tony Allen
Tony Allen is definitely one of the most underrated offseason signings, and it was pretty much shocking to see him sign a deal with the New Orleans Pelicans rather than chasing a Championship with a contender in need of some grit and grind.
Allen is one of the best defenders in the history of this game and even though you just can’t with him scoring much points, he was one of the best free agents of this summer due to his ability to just lock down the best offensive talents in the Association, and paired alongside Rondo and Davis in some sets, the Pelicans could finally stop somebody.
New York Knicks - Mindaugas Kuzminskas
With the New York Knicks already having Frank Ntilikina, Kristaps Porzingis and Willy Hernangomez in their ranks, there isn’t much space for another blossoming star on the big apple, leaving Mindaugas Kuzminskas pretty much in the dark.
Nonetheless, the European has been quite solid every time he’s been called to step up and play either forward spot, and he’s shown his talents on both ends of the floor on a FIBA level; so now that the Knicks are set to just tank all the way to another top 5 pick, he could have way more chance to prove his worth.
Oklahoma City Thunder - Andre Roberson
Andre Roberson is one of the worst offensive players in the Association and you can just leave him wide open, as you know he’s definitely going to brick that corner three; but he’s still an elite defender despite his youth.
Of course, lacking any kind of touch from the field is definitely going to earn you a lot of detractors, but he’s a very pesky defender that’s going to provide a lot of balance on a team that’s bound to feature both Paul George and Carmelo Anthony together this season.
Orlando Magic - Evan Fournier
The Orlando Magic are pretty much a disaster right now and all the guys they’ve trusted their picks with have wind up being major busts like Elfrid Payton, Mario Hezonja and Aaron Gordon, but even though, Fournier has been pretty solid since landing them from the Denver Nuggets.
Fournier is quite a versatile scorer that can light it up on a nightly basis, a very willingful passer and not the worst defender you’ll find, and he’s one of the team’s prime trade candidates now that they don't have absolutely anything to look for this upcoming season.
Philadelphia 76ers - Robert Covington
Robert Covington is one of the most versatile guys on the Sixers roster and has a lot of upside as a 26-year-old, but having to share touches with Dario Saric and now also Ben Simmons and JJ Redick make his value take a huge toll.
Still, he’s a very good wing defender with the ability to guard 3 different positions and a very consistent shooter from beyond the arc that just needs a better environment to thrive, also he’s set to be a major contributor in this year’s Sixers’ playoffs run.
Phoenix Suns - Tyler Ulis
With Eric Bledsoe on the team, Tyler Ulis hasn’t had the time he needs to blossom as one of the league’s best young talents at the point, but even in limited minutes, he’s proven to be more than ready to be handed the keys of the car.
Naturally, with Alex Len, Josh Jackson, Marquese Chriss and Devin Booker, Ulis just doesn’t get enough recognition, but with the Suns keen to find a new home for Bledsoe at some point this season, we could be seeing a lot of him during the second passage of the campaign.
Portland Trail Blazers - Al-Farouq Aminu
Al-Farouq Aminu’s offensive game is pretty much non-existent other than just breakaway dunks, and his shot seems to be completely broken beyond repair, but his defensive ability makes him one of the most underrated players in the entire league.
Aminu can lock down the best scorers in the world with his suffocating defense, wingspan, strength and athleticism, and considering how much a defensive liability both Lillard and McCollum are, he just doesn’t get enough credit for all the hard work he puts on.
San Antonio Spurs - Danny Green
With Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard on your team, you won’t get much credit for all the little things you do, and that’s exactly what happens with one of the most underrated and hard-working guys in the Association, Danny Green.
Green worked his heart off to become a key piece in the San Antonio Spurs scheme, especially when it comes to defense, where he creates a deadly duo alongside the Klaw. Besides, his ability to get hot from beyond the arc makes him a deadly combo in the backcourt of Popovich’s squad, and he just doesn’t get the credit he deserves for his outstanding defense.
Sacramento Kings - Willie Cauley-Stein
Willie Cauley-Stein struggled in the early going due to the need to share touches with both Kosta Koufos and DeMarcus Cousins, not having the playing time he needed to establish as one of the league’s elite defensive big man as promised.
Still, Cauley-Stein is quite young and has definitely much more to offer than Koufos, so with Cousins out of the question, he might as well lock down that starting spot alongside Skal Labissiere. Of course, he’s still very rough on offense, but his defensive upside makes him a guy that just needs playing time to become a Tyson Chandler kind of center.
Toronto Raptors - CJ Miles
CJ Miles is one of the most interesting and underrated acquisitions of this last couple of months, as he’s going to provide the Toronto Raptors with a much-needed stroke from distance that neither Kyle Lowry nor DeMar DeRozan have been able to do.
Miles isn’t as fast as he used to be, but he’s one of the most consistent shooters from distance in the league at this point, and paired alongside Ibaka and Valanciunas, it seems like the Raptors, have finally found the balance they’ve lacked so much over these last couple of seasons.
Utah Jazz - Rodney Hood
Rodney Hood has mightily struggled with injuries over the course of his young career, and with a crowded backcourt and Gordon Hayward stealing most of the thunder, he hasn’t had much chance to prove his worth.
Truth to be told, Hood can ball lights out, and even though he’s not the best defender you’ll find, he works his butt off in the court on a nightly basis. Rodney can get hot in a heartbeat and is a very versatile scorer, and he’s set for a breakout year now that he’s healthy and Hayward is off the team.
Washington Wizards - Otto Porter Jr
The Washington Wizards apparently seem to value what this youngster can bring to the table for the franchise future, as they were loyal to their word stating that they would match any offer the restricted free agent received this past offseason.
Porter has quietly become the team’s third option on offense while also improving his wing defense on a substantial level. Perhaps he's not the most gifted athlete and can seem slow at times, but he has the offensive skillset to become a deadly shooter and is a major piece in the Wizards project.