NBA's Most Underrated Players
Honoring ballers that deserve more respect.
By Michael Illiano
Did you think I was going to do a list of overrated players and not talk about underrated players?
If so, you are definitely mistaken. I'm pretty sure my list of players here are well-respected by coaches and experts around the league, but to the casual fan, they don't get enough respect. There will be no mainstream stars on this list unlike the overrated article I did, which can be seen here.
Top 10 Most Underrated Players of 2011-12
10) Thaddeus Young
Who is Thaddeus Young?
Well, Philadelphia 76ers fans are exposed to this young 23-year-old talent. This was tough because the Sixers have a bunch of players that could make this list like Jrue Holiday and Spencer Hawes, but these guys will get their due. Igoudala could be on the Underrated or Overrated list. He's probably the most confusing player in the league. I really wanted to focus on Young. He gets lost in the shuffle to even big time basketball fans. One thing I am always high on is basketball efficiency.
Anyone who knows me knows I run around screaming about inefficient players. Some I discuss in my overrated players list. Young is extremely efficient. He shoots over 50-percent for his career, which is very unheard of. He doesn't jack up bad shots and most importantly plays defense. He supplies a great backup to Andre Igoudala. Young also grabs five rebounds a game. The most telling thing about Young is he puts up numbers in limited minutes--28 minutes per game. In those 28 minutes, he gets you close to 13 points and fives rebounds. According to Basketballreference.com, if he played 36 minutes a game, he would be a 16-and-6 guy with two steals a game.
At 6'8," he can play both small and power forward and is a matchup nightmare. One of the most telling stats about Young is his ability to listen. For example, in 2009 and 2010, Young shot 302 three point field goals in two seasons. Sixers head coach Doug Collins takes over and tells Young that this is not his game. Young attempted 22 threes last year and only three in 21 games this year (at the time this list is published). His field goal percentage has raised dramatically because of this. Next time you watch a Sixers game, keep an eye on Thaddeus Young--one of the most efficient players no one knows about.
9) Andre Miller
Andre Miller has been one of the most underrated players in the NBA his whole career.
To say Miller is underrated is almost an understatement. How can a guy play a dozen years and still get no credit? Let's drop some data on Miller....
Miller has 7,327 career assists and counting. That is 121h all time.
That's ahead of the likes of Bob Cousy, Tim Hardaway, Kevin Johnson, Lenny Wilkens, and Jerry West. In another season, he will break the top 10 and pass Mo Cheeks. Miller has always been a pass-first point guard. Miller is also closing in on 15,000 career points. At age 35, he is still putting up 11-and-7 on a good Denver team--while fighting the emerging Ty Lawson for minutes. Miller is the prototypical old man game guy. He plays good defense as shown by his 1.5 career steals average.
When Miller was traded to the Sixers in 2007 for Allen Iverson, everyone thought the Sixers were done and it was rebuilding time. Miller led a low-talent Sixers team to playoffs in 2008 and 2009, giving the Detroit Pistons and Orlando Magic scares. In fact, in 2010, the Sixers lost Miller to Portland and re-signed Iverson, only to finish 28-54 with the same squad. That has to speak volumes about Miller's leadership.
Perhaps, Miller doesn't get enough credit because he has never got deep into playoffs on championship-quality teams, but that is no fault of his own. He has made every team he has been on better. He's not a quick player, not a great shooter, but is extremely sound and knows how to make the right play. This quality has to get Miller some more credit. He is very similar to a player in the '90s by the name of Rod Strickland. Two very underrated guys for their respective eras.
8) Manu Ginobili
This guy can't get respect outside of Texas. It is always about San Antonio Spurs teammates Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. Ginobli was an equal part of those title teams in San Antonio and still continues to be amazing when healthy. Would I be stretching it to say that Ginobli is best bench player of this era?