Let me preface this list by simply saying that I tried to stay away from the usual suspects on lists like these. That said, here’s my list of the top five most underrated players in the NBA.
Kaman is a true seven footer who came into the league back in 2003. Only scoring six points per game as a rookie, he has made leaps and bounds in what should have been a short NBA career. He has great footwork for a big man, which has allowed him to perfect some low-post moves like the spin and jump hook. His best days are clearly behind him, but he doesn’t get enough credit for what he actually does in a game. He takes up space, blocks shots, and runs the floor. Oh yea, he shoots free throws at almost 80%, so there goes the hack-a-Shaq philosophy from opponents. Find me another seven footer who lacks the obvious physical talent as much as Kaman does and I’ll show you a very tall McDonald’s manager.
Part of the reason Gay is on this list is location. Memphis, while starting to come around, rarely makes national televised games so it’s tough for the casual fan to know exactly how much Rudy has been tearing the NBA up. He’s been averaging 20 points per contest since his second year in the league. One-on-one, no forward in basketball can stay in front of this guy. He is such a pure shooter that defenders have to respect the jumper, which allows for some of the SportsCenter dunks you’ve seen. He is one of those complete players that aren’t around much these days. If Memphis finally goes anywhere in the playoffs, Gay will be a huge part of it.
“Iggy”, as he is affectionately referred to, is one of those players that can do it all. A physical specimen just as looming as LeBron, this guy doesn’t get enough ink. Recently traded to Denver, I expect that to change. This is a guy who, over his career, averages 15 points, six rebounds, five assists, and two steals per game. You can count the other NBA players who have similar stats across the board on one hand. Denver might be a power this season, and Iggy is going to let the NBA know he is here.
Chalmers does a lot of things on the court pretty good. Nothing spectacular. Except this one thing. He hits big shots. Consistently. He has an NCAA Championship and a couple of NBA titles and all three are a direct result of big shots Super Mario hit late in deciding games. Whatever it is that he has, you can’t teach it. You’re born that way. When the game is on the line, Chalmers is always ready to take the shot. The bigger the situation, the better he seems to perform. He won’t ever win an MVP or scoring title, but my guess is his three rings make up for that.
Love is by far the most underrated player in the game. Being a Minnesota resident, I have had the luxury of watching this kid play extensively. He had a career year last season averaging 26 points and 13 rebounds per game. If Ricky Rubio had not gotten injured last year, the Wolves would have been in the playoffs. This season should be the return of Minnesota to the postseason since Kevin Garnett’s departure. Something that doesn’t get a lot of attention is his work ethic. Over the summer before last season, Love dropped about 25lbs. He was more durable and played 39 minutes per game. He also added a lethal three point shot. He shoots almost 40% from distance after only shooting 11% his rookie season. I expect him to add another new wrinkle to his game this season, and when he returns from a broken shooting hand, should be in the thick of the MVP race.