These days, there is so much exposure in professional sports due to the presence of social media and a more hands-on experience for the fans that there really aren’t many secrets in the NBA.
Basically, all of the stars are fleshed out, both in terms of their performance on the court and their behavior off of it. So, as a result, it’s hard to find players who are overlooked.
But just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. There are, in fact, some NBA players who are actually pretty underrated.
Here are five underrated players in today’s game.
5. Joe Ingles
There is a lot of hype surrounding the Utah Jazz heading into next season as a result of a busy offseason in which they acquired both Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic to bolster their offense, and deservedly so.
The Jazz should be really, really good next year and could very well be one of the top three teams in the Western Conference, but a player most outside of Utah don’t give a ton of love is Joe Ingles.
A tough, entertaining small forward, Ingles is a terrific 3-and-D guy who is absurdly efficient, registering true shooting percentages of 60.4, 62.3 and 58.1 percent, respectively, over the last three seasons.
Ingles also knows how to get under the skin of his opponents (just ask Paul George), but he isn’t just an instigator: he is a legitimately good defensive player who can guard multiple positions.
Not only that, but he is a stellar playmaker, as evidenced by the fact he averaged 5.7 assists per game this past season.
4. Myles Turner
When Victor Oladipo went down with a quad tendon tear back in late January, it looked like the Indiana Pacers’ season was over. Instead, the Pacers went on to win 48 games and were actually in possession of the 3-seed for quite some time up until finally relinquishing their hold with a couple of weeks left in the season.
A huge reason why Indiana was able to stay afloat over the final few months was Myles Turner, Indy’s do-it-all big man and one of the league’s most consistent players.
Turner is like Al Horford in the sense that he doesn’t do anything great, but he does everything well. He can finish around the rim, he can spread the floor, he can crash the glass, he can protect the rim and he can guard the pick-and-roll.
He is an incredibly versatile big who can hold his own against anyone defensively, and he won’t make any bad decisions on either end of the floor. Turner is a big reason why I like the Pacers so much going into the 2019-20 NBA season, even with Oladipo still recovering.
3. Montrezl Harrell
Yes, we get it: the Los Angeles Clippers landed both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George this offseason, so the spotlight is certainly on those two. But we must not forget about Montrezl Harrell, who may end up being the X-factor for the Clippers as they try to win their first NBA title.
Harrell is similar to Turner in the sense that he can switch everything defensively, and even though he stands just 6-foot-8, he has a ridiculous 7-foot-4 wingspan that allows him to bother bigger players.
He doesn’t exactly have a large offensive repertoire, as his game mostly consists of garbage buckets, but he averaged 16.6 points per game this season and got to the free-throw line five times a night, so he is obviously doing something right on that end of the court.
Make no mistake about it: Harrell is a menace who has unbelievable energy and can serve as a spark plug when the Clippers need it.
2. Blake Griffin
Five years ago, many had Blake Griffin on their “most overrated” lists. My, how times have changed.
The funny guy with the ridiculously awkward shot has developed into one of the most lethal all-around offensive bigs in the game, still possessing the ability to finish around and over defenders while also having a reliable 3-point shot.
Blake Griffin? The same Blake Griffin who shot 52 percent from the free-throw line during his second season and was known as the guy who didn’t do anything else but dunk? Yes: that Blake Griffin.
Griffin is coming off what was arguably the best season of his career, as he averaged a career-high 24.5 points per game while shooting 36.2 percent from 3-point range on very high volume (seven 3-point attempts per game).
He may not be as insanely explosive as he once was, but Griffin has expanded his offensive repertoire tremendously, and he remains a great passer, as he averaged 5.4 assists per game this past year.
It has gotten to the point where Griffin has actually been forgotten about, which has led to him being criminally underrated.
1. Nikola Vucevic
There was little to no buzz surrounding Nikola Vucevic entering NBA free agency, which is mind-boggling.
Sure, he ended up re-signing with the Orlando Magic right off the bat, but hardly anyone was even discussing him as one of the top-tier free agents even though he was easily one of the best ones on the market.
Vucevic is coming off a season in which he averaged 20.8 points, 12.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.1 blocks and a steal per game while shooting 51.8 percent from the floor and 36.4 percent from long range. Talk about impressive numbers.
You also may not know that Vucevic is actually a decent defender. While no one will confuse him for Rudy Gobert, Vucevic is more than capable on the defensive end, possessing the footspeed and wherewithal to defend the perimeter and enough length, size and athleticism to protect the rim.
This dude is one of the best centers in the league, and the Magic are very lucky to have been able to retain him.