With all the talk about LeBron and Durant this year, it’s time to give some recognition to the most unheralded players in the NBA. These guys may not be super stars, but they are excellent players that do not get talked about enough and deserve some more press.
*This list is not in any particular order*
1. Al Jefferson: Big Al has been one of the most dominant low post scorers in the game in the last half-decade. He is a solid rebounder and above average shot blocker. His back to the basket game is old-school, but very effective. The only downfall with Jefferson is his weak defensive presence down low. Other than that, he is one of the most dominant players in the game.
2. Chandler Parsons: Parsons, a former second round pick, has proven to become quite the steal for the Houston Rockets. He has been a solid role player the last few years, but has really taken his game to the next level this year, truly playing like an all-star.
3. Goran Dragic: Dragic, like Parsons, had established himself in the league as a quality player before this season, but he has elevated his game and is currently carrying the surprise team of the year (Phoenix) into possibly their first playoff appearance since the 2010-2011 season. He should’ve been an all-star this year as well, but don’t get me started on that.
4. Mike Conley: The former Ohio State product has been as consistent as it gets the last few years. He is reliable and can do a little bit of everything offensively. Conley is an excellent defender and gets in passing lanes and applies a ton of ball pressure on opposing guards.
5. Nikola Pekovic: The Timberwolves center is built like a tank and is a double-double machine. Pekovic is averaging 17.9 ppg and 9.1 rpg in 31 minutes per game this season. He has gotten better each year and continues to improve.
6. David West: It’s easy to go unnoticed on a team as talented as the Pacers. While guys like Paul George, Lance Stephenson, Roy Hibbert, etc. all get the limelight, West has proven to be extremely valuable for them. On almost any other team in the NBA he’d most likely average more points and boards per game than he is currently getting in Indiana.
7. Paul Millsap: Millsap is a versatile power forward that can handle the ball and shoots it well from outside. He has had a breakout season in his first year playing for Atlanta and continues to impress.
8. Joakim Noah: This guy is a stud. Noah hardly gets the credit he deserves because he does the dirty work and tends to do the little things that may not show up on the box score, but he still fills it in nicely. A lot of folks have him slotted in the top 5 for the MVP race this year. He’s been extremely valuable for Chicago this year and is the key piece to their rise to the playoffs even without Rose and Deng (traded).
9. Isaiah Thomas: The Kings point guard was the last pick in the last round of the NBA Draft and not a whole bunch was expected out of him. He continues to shine and silence the naysayers with his incredible play this year. Not only has he been able to stick on a roster, but he’s taken the starter role and ran with it.
10. Ty Lawson: The speedy PG has battled injuries this year, along with his team suffering some key losses, but he has play magnificent thus far. Lawson may not be considered an “elite” point guard, but he is as close as it gets.
Honorable Mentions: Wesley Matthews, Andre Drummond, Nikola Vucevic, PJ Tucker and Jeff Teague.