May. 30, 2016
10 Under the Radar NBA Players
There are quite a few NBA players going unnoticed, with breakouts of players such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kristaps Porzingis, and Joel Embiid along with the domination of Russell Westbrook, James Harden and the Golden State Warriors. These ten players, however, deserve some recognition with the work that they have put in this season, and are borderline (or even definite) NBA stars.
10) Maurice Harkless, F, Portland Trailblazers
Once Meyers Leonard went down with an injury late last season, it was Harkless who was thrown into the starting lineup. He kept pushing himself to get better, and he slowly started scoring more points. This year, he went from a defensive standout to an all around good player, and is now averaging 12.5 PPG and over five rebounds as well. He's the third leading scorer on Portland, which makes him now among their most productive frontcourt players, if not the most.
9) Tim Frazier, PG, New Orleans Pelicans
His role has diminished with the return of PG Jrue Holiday, and it will diminish even more when Tyreke Evans returns from injury, but Tim Frazier is having an outstanding season so far. He's recorded more double doubles this season than he has in his entire career, recorded his first triple double Sunday, and he leads the Pelicans in assists with 7.6. He also is scoring in double figures, and has about four rebounds per game to go along with it. He seems to have found a role in his third season.
8) Sean Kilpatrick, G, Brooklyn Nets
Not a lot has gone right this season for Brooklyn, but one thing that has is the play of Sean Kilpatrick. A year ago today, Kilpatrick was playing in the D-League, and now he is scoring 16.1 PPG in the NBA, and throwing in 4.5 RPG and 2.5 APG. He's the second leading scorer on this Nets' team (behind Brook Lopez) which means that once/if Lopez is traded, he is their go-to scorer. He's really starting to jump onto the national radar.
7) Will Barton, G/F, Denver Nuggets
I think that he began his ascent last year, but in 13 games this season Will Barton has been putting up solid scoring numbers. He normally takes on a sixth man role for Denver, but with Gary Harris out Barton has a chance to start. So far, he has delivered 14 PPG (good for third on the Nuggets) and 5 RPG, and is one of the reasons that Denver feels that they are rising again.
6) Julius Randle, PF, Los Angeles Lakers
Randle is a well known player, after his year with Kentucky and his drafting in the lottery, but when it comes to playing in the NBA and playing well, he has taken a bit of a backseat, even on his team. Lou Williams leads in scoring, D'Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson are the future backcourt, Nick Young got his swag back, but it's Randle who provides a frontcourt presence for this surprise Lakers team. Randle is a double double threat every night, scoring 13 PPG and leading his team in rebounds with nine
5) TJ Warren, SF, Phoenix Suns
Warren has been a bit unnoticed for two reasons, one, Phoenix is awful and two, the guards are the focus of the team. Warren has also been hurt that caused him to only play in 13 contests so far, but in those 13 he is averaging about 18 PPG, and leads his team with 1.9 steals per game. He's finally getting a chance to start as well, as he was formerly on the bench but is now in the starting lineup for the first time in his career. He just needs to stay healthy.
4) Clint Capela, C, Houston Rockets
Houston is having an outstanding season despite losing Dwight Howard to Atlanta, and a big part of why they have remained competitive is Capela. James Harden gets all the attention, but Capela is averaging 12 PPG, 8.3 RPG and 1.6 blocks, and is a double double threat every night. He provides the post defense this team needs, and is able to run at Mike D'Antoni's pace. He might be the second best player on his team.
3) Myles Turner, C, Indiana Pacers
In his second season, the stretch five center is second on the Pacers in scoring (behind Paul George) at 15 PPG, among the league leaders in blocks at 2.3, and also leads the Pacers in rebounds at 7.2. He is another double double threat, and was probably motivated by the signing of Al Jefferson who many thought might start for the Pacers. Yet it was Turner who had the breakout season, and many, including myself, thought he should have stayed in school for another year or two. I was wrong about that one.
2) Zach LaVine, G, Minnesota Timberwolves
All of the attention in Minnesota is on Karl Towns and Andrew Wiggins, but did you guys know that Zach LaVine is also scoring over 20 PPG? Yes, Minnesota is one of two teams with three players scoring 20 PPG or more, and the other one is the Golden State Warriors. Yet, they have 14 more losses, which shows two things: Youth and (lack of) Depth. LaVine plays almost 40 minutes per game, and that can't continue forever, but he is a rising star, and not just a great dunker.
1) Jabari Parker, PF, Milwaukee Bucks
Jabari is, at this moment, second fiddle to Giannis Antetokounmpo, but he is also the only other Buck that averages more than 10 PPG. To be fair, that doesn't sound as good as it should, since he is scoring over 19 PPG, and is shooting at his career best percentages. In his last seven games, he has put up more than 20 points five times, and is looking more and more like a possible scoring champion in the future. His defense has also improved to a point where Jason Kidd feels comfortable enough to leave him out there when they need to lock down an opposing team.