Every year the NBA announces various accolades and awards given to players in the form of teams. They include the All-NBA First team, All-NBA Second Team, All-Defensive team, and so on. However, if you took the best, and most overlooked players at each position, you would have (The Memphis Grizzlies) this group of ballers.
Point Guard: John Wall, Washington Wizards, 22 Years Old
John Wall is known around the league pretty well, regrettably not for the right things. As far as the average fan is concerned, John Wall is that player with the song about him, the one that plays on that really bad team, and that one that did the dougie on his college team all the time. To be honest, I can’t blame them for feeling that way.
To begin with, Wall is in bad spot. He is extremely young, and plays for not only a small market team, but a lousy one at that. The worst part? Wall is a point guard. Easily the most celebrated, adored, analyzed, and discussed position in sports, the title of PG graces the likes of Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook, and of course, Derrick Rose. With colleagues like those, it is suddenly easy to see how such a talent could get lost in the fog. Just the same, fans really miss out on a great player when they forget about wall. He possesses a lightning-fast game, incredible court vision, and enough moves to make your head spin.
However, he still has a lot of maturing to do. The lack of a solid veteran guard on the team will slow down his progress. However, when he finally reaches that status of Top-10 Guard he can be, his game will be completely his won and totally original. It’s only a matter of time before John Wall gets the respect he deserves, until then, just try to find a Wizards game now or then.
Shooting Guard: Aaron Afflalo, Orlando Magic, 27 Years Old
Quite possibly the only bright side of Orlando’s loss of her majesty, Dwight Howard; Aaron Afflalo presents a truly interesting game to the NBA. Oddly enough, this uniqueness gets highly under-looked in the league. While the spotlight shifted slightly onto “Afflalo Creed” once leaving Denver for Orlando, the public’s perception hasn’t changed a bit. The thing that makes Afflalo so respectable is his steady and seemingly unstoppable progress.
The Magic 2 has increased in almost every stat column every year of his career. While two assists per game do not seem to reflect a pass savvy player, Afflalo seems to have a knack for nifty passes every now and then. To put it simply, all that glitters is not gold. Afflalo’s game is glittery enough to get him on ESPN now and then, yet possesses some of those gritty qualities that will win game. Every time you see him play, just think of glittery grit. Despite this particular quality, Afflalo continues to be generally underrated and forgotten about. Expect him and Jameer Nelson to form one heck of an underrated back court down in Orlando. Don’t expect to see him on any championship tee-shirts any time soon, but he’ll be around on the SportsCenter highlights here and there.
Small Forward: Danilo Gallinari, Denver Nuggets, 24 Years Old
At this point, underrated and Danilo Gallinari are pretty much interchangeable. A foreign-born player on a small market team without a flashy game. I get it. He’s no LeBron James, and as such, the media and fans have underestimated and ignored him. Even whilst single handedly running the Knicks when they were an even more unstable team than they are now, the Italian forward didn’t really attract that much attention. Just the same, how a player who is statically better than players like Mario Chalmers and Vince Carter is beyond me.
The best part is, Gallinari is in the perfect place to explode on the NBA scene. It seemed as though he was finally about to garner the recognition he deserved wit New York in 2010, but his growth was stunted by an injury, leaving him once again obscure and poorly recognized. Since being traded to the Denver Nuggets in 2011, Gallinari has shown great leadership as well as potential. His attack the basket approach blends perfectly with his phenomenal shooting stroke. Mix that in with the offensively minded power house of the Denver Nuggets, and you have a star in the making. Don’t be shocked of Gallinari walks away from at 50 least games this season with a double-double. Come playoff time, the Nuggets certainly will not be overlooking Danilo Gallinari. Hopefully, the league won’t be either.
Power Forward: Ryan Anderson, New Orleans Hornets, 24 Years Old
Ryan Anderson freaks me out. There. I said it. If there is one thing that tears up a defense faster than anything else, it is a big man that can shoot. Just ask Chris Bosh, Kevin Love, or Kevin Garnett. Ryan Anderson found this out one day, but then took it way too far. In today’s NBA, the 4 position is incredibly diverse. On the West coast, you have Blake Griffin dunking on everything that moves. Out in the East, Kevin Garnett is firing up clutch, long range J’s.
Now take a look at Ryan Anderson. In the world of big men, he who shoots decently, shoots incredibly. Ryan Anderson shoots incredibly; and not just from a big man standpoint. Anderson presents himself as a surprisingly quick player with an aggressive yet well calculated game. He can elevate when necessary, yet has a percentage from downtown that puts a good SG to shame. Perhaps the reason Anderson is so underrated is because it’s rare he gets to shine. This is a direct result of his constant smothering by opposing defenses. When you have to guard a player on literally every spot on the floor, it becomes difficult for him to make too many highlight reels, much less get the recognition he deserves. Ironically enough, the reason Anderson is so underrated is because he is so good. That is what makes him the best underrated PF in the game today.
Like all the other players on this list, Anderson plays for a pretty low key team. The Hornets really only receive credit for Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers. If you ask me, not only does Anderson out-hustle the two of them, he is the real star of the New Orleans Hornets. You may not see him much now, but if the Hornets crack the playoffs, expect some serious Ryan Anderson coming your way.
Center: Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies, 27 Years Old
Much like it’s big-man counterpart, the center position seems to promote extremity. Centers are either vastly overrated, or incredibly the opposite.
Why? I’m not sure.
The one thing I am sure of though, is the Memphis Grizzlies’ Marc Gasol being on the underrated end of things. Playing basketball in Memphis simply shields oneself, as well as their abilities from the public eye. If the Grizzlies went 82-0 on the season, won every game by 40 points, discovered a new flavor of Gatorade, and got their coach to dunk on LeBron James, we would still be talking about the super team of the Lakers by the end of the season. Quite frankly, I have nothing but respect for those players associated with the Tennessee ball club. It takes quite a lot to work as hard as they do, yet still not get much recognition. Marc Gasol is the poster child for underrated. So far, Gasol is experiencing career highs in blocks, steals, assists, minutes, and points this season.
He is also putting up his best free throw stats so far. And while 14 and 8 are not the stats of a superstar, Gasol has that quality seen in Kendrick Perkins. If there was a stat for “presence”, Marc Gasol would lead the league in it. As part of the dark horse Memphis Grizzlies, Gasol perfectly represents the team in that he is an underrated powerhouse, and that he actually looks like a bear.