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Top 5 Most Underrated NBA Players

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With there being 450 players in the NBA, there are plenty of players that people think are overrated and underrated. I am going to narrow down these 450 players into the top 5 most underrated players in today’s game.

Honorable Mentions

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Carmelo Anthony: Carmelo is a player that will be forever in the middle of overrated and underrated. Obviously, I lean towards the underrated side. Carmelo is in a terrible situation in New York, and for the most part has overshadowed how good of a player he really is. His defense has always been shaky, but he can still score with the best of them. If Carmelo gets a change of scenery, look for him to show that he is still a legitimate scoring threat.

Nell Redmond- AP

Harrison Barnes: Barnes spent the first four years of his career with the Warriors where he got swallowed in the Stephen Curry/Klay Thompson/Draymond Green hype before he got pushed out of town in favor of Kevin Durant. He improved his scoring in each year and as a main threat on a struggling Mavericks team, Barnes got his average up to 19.2 ppg and look for it to increase again this year.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Enes Kanter: Kanter has become a very reliable player off the bench for the Thunder these last two years. Averaging 13.5 ppg and 7.4 rpg in these last two years. In addition to those stats, Kanter had a 23.7 player efficency last season which was good for 19th in the league. And if we are all being honest, no one thinks he is a top 20 player in the league.

 

5. Dion Waiters

Waiters was drafted fourth overall in the 2012 draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Cleveland was hoping Waiters would be their shooting guard of the future, but after a couple of seasons with them Waiters was looking like he would be a bust. Cleveland traded him to OKC during the 2014 season and for that year and a half he was overshadowed by guys like Durant, Westbrook, and Ibaka and like you would think his stats went down and people were sure he was a complete bust. But after being picked up by Miami, Waiters really showed people why he was the number 4 pick in 2012. His stats of 15.8 ppg, 4 apg, and 3 rpg do not jump off the page, but Waiters had many games where he carries the Heat to a win and he was a big reason why the Heat made an incredible playoff push after starting the year 11-30. Do not think that this past season was an anomaly for Waiters. Look for him to impress again this year.

4. Jusuf Nurkic

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Nurkic was never seen as anything special in Denver in his first two and a half seasons. He was traded to Portland last season. In 20 games with Portland he averaged 15.2 ppg and 10.4 rpg. He got injured towards the end of the season and only ended up playing in game three of their first round matchup with the Warriors. Nurkic was a force to be reckoned with on those 20 games with Portland, but after getting injured, it seems like everyone has just forgotten about how dominant Nurkic really was at the end of the year. Improvements in most statistical categories for Nurkic last year only points to a big year coming for Nurkic this year. Let’s just hope he stays healthy so he can show us all how good he really is.

3. Marc Gasol

Brandon Dill/Associated Press

You might be thinking, what in the world in Marc Gasol doing on this list? Yes I know many people think that Marc is one of the best centers in the league. But there are a lot of people who do not give Gasol nearly enough credit for what he has done and is still doing in his career. In nine NBA seasons, Gasol has only been named an all-star three times and named to an all-NBA team twice. When you think of a top 5 center in the league (and in my opinion he is the second best center behind only DeMarcus Cousins) you would assume he would have received these honors a little more frequently. A big knock on Gasol’s game was that his shooting was weak. Well, Gasol fixed that last season when he shot 268 threes while making 104 (38.8%). That is a pretty good percentage for a player that had only shot 66 threes in 8 prior seasons. His shooting is only going to improve and now that he can stretch the floor there really are zero weaknesses in his game. I think a lot of this has to do with the team he plays for, the Memphis Grizzlies. They are a small market team that has never gotten over the hump in the playoffs and Gasol has suffered from that. Like I said, many people do recognize the talent Gasol has, but there are still too many people that have no idea.

2. Khris Middleton

Calvin Mattheis for the Journal Sentinel

Khris Middleton was a second round draft pick by the Pistons in 2012. Middleton only played in 27 games his rookie season and in return had underwhelming statistics. However, the Milwaukee Bucks saw the potential in his game and traded for him before the 2013-14 season began. Middleton played in all 82 games in his first year with the Bucks and had a solid year for a second year player. By his third year with the Bucks, Middleton really blossomed. He averaged 18.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg, and 4.2 apg in his first year as a full-time starter. You could tell he was just hitting the beginning of his potential in this season and many people were waiting for an all-star caliber year for Middleton. Unfortunately, he was injured before the season began and was out until around the all-star break. Middleton returned and helped the Bucks surge during the end of the year to earn the 6 seed in the eastern conference. With Middleton now fully healthy and a solid group around him, including newest NBA superstar-to-be Giannis Antetokounmpo, Middleton should be able to showcase his skills that could lead to him being seen as a top 30 player in the NBA. Right now, Khris is right on the edge of being an all-star. Do not be surprised if you see his name on the roster this year and in years to come.

1. Mike Conley

“But Mike Conley was given the richest contract in NBA history last year?!” Yes, I know this. It just happened to be his year to get the big money. Now, guys like Curry and Harden are getting the big contracts. The Grizzlies knew they had to pay up to keep the best player on their team. Who would not do that? I hope nobody. Mike Conley has steadily improved his skills in each season since his rookie season back in 2007 and he has only been rewarded for his play once. And I am willing to bet that no one knows what this accolade is off the top of their head. Maybe not even Conley knows what it is. Conley was selected to be on the all-defensive team for the 2012-13 season. Yes, that means that Conley has never been selected to an all-star game or selected for an all-NBA team. A top 5 point guard in today’s league has NEVER been selected to an all-star game in his 10 year career. That is unheard of! Last year Conley’s PER was 23.2 which is 7.2 points higher than what is deemed to be an average player in the NBA and he was estimated to have earned 10 wins for his team. The Grizzlies record last year was 43-39 in a very tough Western Conference and earned the 7 seed in the playoffs. If Conley was not on the team last year, the Grizzles were estimated to miss the playoffs by 8 games and be the 4th worst team in the West. And I am willing to bet that they would have been worse than that. It is a no-brainer that Conley should already have multiple all-star appearances and all-NBA team selections. Conley is without a doubt the most underrated player in the NBA and it is not even close.

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Aaron Morse

UW-La Crosse Class of 2019 | Majoring in Sports Journalism. Minoring in Sports Broadcasting and Coaching | You can follow me on Twitter @FlyinHawaiian36

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