It may be early in the 2013-14 NBA season but that hasn’t stopped fans and media from speculating early on various players and their performance so far. Nonetheless, there are always a few undervalued players that get lost in the crowd.
In this case, there are ten specific players that come to mind when you talk about getting lost in the crowd. Those ten being Monta Ellis, Paul Milsap, Arron Afflalo, Al Horford, Ty Lawson, Jared Sullinger, Tristan Thompson, John Henson, Spencer Hawes, and Andre Drummond. Now obviously it’s still early in the season but that doesn’t change the fact that these ten players deserve some credit and validation.
Monta Ellis of the Dallas Mavericks
Ellis has played good basketball so far this season and I must say I am pleasantly surprised. While I like Ellis, I feel at times he is his worse enemy, meaning he doesn’t always live up to his potential. However, that hasn’t been the case so far this season. He is currently averaging 21 points per game along with five assists and three rebounds per game. He has even made his presence on the defense known averaging close to two steals a game. Then you have to look past the stats with Ellis, unlike in the past, he seems to be buying into his role as a combo guard with the Mavericks so far. He and Dirk Nowitzki seem to have good chemistry and the teams performs better for it. Obviously it is still early but it’s nice to see Ellis playing well so far this season, I just hope it continues.
Paul Milsap of the Atlanta Hawks
Milsap has also played some good basketball early this season. Unfortunately many don’t take notice since he is playing for the Hawks. However, I have taken the time to watch him and he is performing just like I expected him to. He is currently averaging 16 points and seven rebounds per game, then on the defensive side he racking up a block and steal per game. While I would like to see him increase his rebound numbers to double digits, there is not much after that for me to complain about. Milsap represents the new era of the four position, despite being undersized he continues to be a force in the inside with his post game. He also has the ability to stretch the floor and hit the shot from mid-range. The most underrated part of his game so far this season has to be the fact that he is hitting three points shot see his current three-point percentage of 41%. While I repeat that I am not surprised by Milsap’s success, I must also admit that I wish he was playing for more of contender instead of re-building team like Atlanta. Nonetheless, he is earning his money and playing good basketball, I just wish more fans would take notice.
Arron Afflalo of the Orlando Magic
I feel one of the most underrated performers this season has to be Afflalo. Similar to Milsap he is playing good consistent basketball but unfortunately for him, he is playing for the Magic, so few notice. However, I am here to open your eyes, so far this season Afflalo is averaging 21 points per game along with four rebounds and four assists per game. I don’t know about you but when I see stats like that, it brings me back to Afflalo’s college playing days at UCLA and I must say he is finally playing the way he is supposed to. In the past teams made him a role player but so far this season, he seems to be more of score first type player, whether it be driving the lane or hitting from three or mid-range. He may not have high assists numbers but he is making a point to get his teammates involved which is another plus. Obviously it’s still early in the season but I like what I am seeing from Afflalo and I’m sure other teams do as well when you consider the fact he will be a free agent very soon.
Al Horford of the Atlanta Hawks
I may have talked about Milsap first but that doesn’t mean I forgot about Al Horford who is playing some good basketball so far this season. He is currently averaging 17 points per game while shooting 65% from the field. Then you add that with his eight rebounds and near two blocks a game, and you have no choice but to value this young man. He continues to be a force in the paint both offensively and defensively. He and Milsap have turned into a nice post duo when on the court together. My only complaint about Horford would have to be that he needs to elevate his rebounding numbers into double digits because there is no doubt that he is capable of being a walking double-double but besides that he is playing good basketball and continues to be undervalued.
Ty Lawson of the Denver Nuggets
When it comes to the point guard position, I have to admit that there are few undervalued more than Ty Lawson and this season is no different. So far this season he is currently averaging 19 points per game, along with eight assists, nearly making him a walking double-double. Also keep in mind that he is shooting 44% from the field while only averaging two turnovers a game. I don’t know about you but I find that impressive. Then when you look beyond the stats, you have to remember that Lawson is becoming the leader most fans have longed for him to be. He continues to make others around him better but has shown that he is ready to be the closer for this team if needed. That’s saying a lot, think about it, the Nuggets are currently adjusting to their new head coach and Brian Shaw and while the adjustment seems to be going fine so far, I think Lawson’s play has a lot do with the smooth transition which makes him even more valued in my opinion.
Jared Sullinger of the Boston Celtics
While Sullinger had his issues off the court earlier this season, no can deny that he has been a productive piece of the Celtics so far this. Unfortunately, not many fans are watching the Celtics at this time making it harder for Sullinger to receive validation but I’m here to inform those who don’t know about him. As of right now he is currently averaging 13 points per game while shooting 46% from the field. He is also averaging seven rebounds per game, making him a near walking double-double. Now personally I am not surprised, I felt Sullinger was capable of this play last year but unfortunately for him he suffered an injury last season and had no choice but to sit on the bench. However, I must say that it is nice to see him making up for lost time. He has shown a solid post game at times this season along with the ability to stretch the floor and hit from mid-range and occasionally from three-point as well. So just watch out for him as the season goes on, because he is definitely an undervalued part of this Celtic team.
Tristan Thompson of the Cleveland Cavilers
Thompson certainly struggled early on his career but it seems he has come to life this season. As of right now he is double-double guy, currently averaging 11 points and 10 rebounds per game. While I would like his field goal percentage (43%) to be a little higher, I have to say I like what I am seeing from Thompson so far this season. He is starting to learn how to succeed as versatile big man in the NBA. I love his activity on the boards, both offensively and defensively. As I said earlier, he is still learning his way around offensively but it’s a step in the right direction. So I feel it’s time for more fans to take notice and give him a little more credit.
John Henson of Milwaukee Bucks
Henson may be playing for the Bucks but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve some form of validation. It’s early in the season but Henson has been a near double-double averaging 11 points and seven rebounds per game. When it comes to scoring he is extremely efficient with his shot selection which is why he is currently shooting 52% from the field. Then on the defensive side of the ball, he continues to elevate and make plays on the ball seeing that he is currently averaging two blocks a game. His stats may not be all-star worthy but he continues to be a bright spot for the Bucks so far this season and I think it’s time others take notice.
Spencer Hawes of the Philadelphia 76ers
Similar to Lawson, it astounds me that more people aren’t aware of Hawes play this season and it surprises even more that those who know about him don’t credit him. So far this season he is averaging 15 points per game while shooting 50% from the field. Probably the most underrated part of his game is his three-point stroke and so far this season he has been great, shooting 44% from three right now. Then when it comes to boards, he is near double figures averaging nine rebounds per game. Now I would obviously like for him to reach that double-double mark in his career but that doesn’t take a way from what he has done so far this season and it’s time he receive some validation because he is certainly a key piece to the 76er team.
Andre Drummond of the Detroit Pistons
When it comes to Drummond, I must say it still baffles me how more fans and even media aren’t aware of him. I mean out of the players I mentioned above, he is probably the one with the brightest future seeing that he is only 20 years old. He is literally a walking double-double, currently averaging 13 points and 13 rebounds per game and that’s all while shooting 62% from the field. Then on the defensive side of the ball he’s racking up close to two blocks per game along with a steal per game. The scary thing about Drummond is that he is doing all of this and he hasn’t even learned to play yet. Basically meaning that he earns most of his points off of offensive rebounds or transition plays. Imagine what he will do as his post game improves and the Pistons began running more plays for him. Drummond may be underrate now but as he continues to grow and get better more people will take notice. I took notice when he was Connecticut, I’m just giving the “bandwagon fans” an opportunity to jump on Drummond’s bandwagon early.
Now there are obviously way more undervalued players besides this, but I decided to shine a light on these ten players. Don’t worry as the season goes on I will bring up more because you can trust me when I say there are plenty of undervalued players in the NBA right now who are performing at a solid and consistent level.
Written by LBeasley, Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit
Listen to LBeasley’s Radio Show, “Sports Talk with L-Beasley” every Mon, Wed & Fri from 6-8pm (ET) on LBeasley.com