5 of the Most Underrated Players in the NBA

Jan 15, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New Orleans Hornets guard Greivis Vasquez (21) shoots a layup during the first quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA is a star studded league filled with incredible talent. Guys like Kevin Durant and LeBron James run the Association. However, it’s easy to overlook the talent of the other immensely gifted players, because a lot of people pay closer attention to the best guys on teams that are successful. If you’re on the Magic then forget it you must stink, right? Wrong. I put together a list of five guys, on losing teams, that hardly get noticed for their play. Enjoy.

Kemba Walker, Charlotte Bobcats Kemba Walker is a star in the making and since he plays for the lowly Bobcats, he’s often overlooked. I’ll admit that he didn’t live up to expectations in his rookie year but he’s really made an impact in his sophomore season. Walker has really improved in every facet of the game since last year. Through Tuesday, he’s averaging 17.3 PPG which is almost 5.0 more points a game than last years average. Although, he’s stood pat at 3.5 RPG he has increased his averages in assists, steals, and blocks. In fact, he has either tied or bettered the averages of All-Star, Kyrie Irving. Now I’m not saying that Walker should be an All-star but what I am saying is that his numbers call for more attention than he’s getting. Walker’s field goal, 3-point, and free throw percentages are also all up from last year.

Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons Am I the only one that thinks Lawrence Frank is out of his mind for playing Drummond a measly 20 MPG? According to Basketball-Reference.com, the guy is averaging 13 points, 13 rebounds, and 3 blocks per 36 minutes. Those are unbelievable numbers for Drummond, who was thought to be extremely raw coming out of college. There is really no justification for starting Maxiell over Drummond and I would love to hear any sort of reasoning Frank might have. Drummond is an explosive athlete with loads of potential. Unfortunately, fans hardly know about his success due to the small amount of playing time he gets and because he plays for the Detroit Pistons. I can’t imagine it will be too much longer until Drummond makes a name for himself in this league.

O.J. Mayo, Dallas Mavericks For some reason I feel like only a handful of people have noticed how vital O.J. Mayo has been for Dallas. The USC product did everything he possibly could to keep the Mavs relevant until Dirk returned from injury. Since Dirk has returned, Mayo hasn’t been as effective but he continues to show us what he can be as a basketball player. After failing to meet expectations in Memphis a fresh start in Dallas was just what he needed. He’d no longer be buried on the bench and he would be able to silence the doubts people may have had. Mayo has averaged career highs in almost every major category. This includes his conversion rate of 42% from beyond the arc. If I’m Memphis, I wish I had kept him because he would’ve been able to fill the void left by Rudy Gay seamlessly. Oh well, all they can do is watch as he quietly does his thing for a struggling Dallas squad.

Greivis Vasquez, New Orleans Hornets Greivis Vasquez is having a career year but playing for the 15th ranked team in the Western Conference doesn’t help. It also doesn’t help that he has rookie phenom Anthony Davis, who garners all of the attention, for a teammate. Vasquez ranks third in the league in assists per game, second if you don’t count Rondo. He’s only trailing Chris Paul by 0.1 assists.

Ill give you a moment to let that sink in. Ok, time’s up. Seeing as Greivis only trails two other point guards in the race for the assist crown, that also means for more mind boggling news. Vasquez has more assists than the likes of Deron Williams, Russell Westbrook, Steve Nash, etc. Those guys are all considered elite and while Vasquez isn’t elite yet, he definitely has the whole passing thing down. Look for him to only get better year after year.

Earl Clark, Los Angeles Lakers Earl Clark was supposed to be a throw in so the Lakers could get Dwight Howard, right? Well if he is just a throw in, he’s a pretty good one. Clark isn’t the kind of guy that’s going to put up eye popping numbers. However, he is someone that’s going to give 110% night in and night out. In 21 minutes per game, Clark is putting up 7 points and 6 rebounds. Again, not exactly star numbers but he’s not really a star, he’s a glue guy. He’s been a small bright spot in the Lakers nightmare of a season, filling in admirably for the likes of Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol. We’ll get to see a lot more of Clark now because of both Howard and Gasol being injured. I wouldn’t be shocked if he was a 10 and 10 guy when Gasol returns in 6-8 weeks.

*All stats from NBA.com unless otherwise noted.*