The NBA’s Most Underrated & Underbooked Stars
Josh Smith, 24, Hawks PF
Joe Johnson may be the face of the Hawks, but without Josh Smith, there is no way the Hawks are 46-26. Smith can do things that most Power Forwards aren't capable of doing on a basketball court. Anyone can score points in the NBA, but there are only a handful of players who can play Defense on a game changing level like the Hawks versatile forward. The only thing Josh Smith can't do on a basketball court is shoot a three, but when you shoot 50.3% from field, you don't need to chuck up 3-pointers to make an impact.
2009-10 Stats: 15.8 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 4.3 APG, 1.7 SPG, 2.1 BPG
Monta Ellis, 24, Warriors SG
I didn't think it was possible to average 25.5 PPG in the NBA and not get noticed. At the ripe age of 24, Ellis is one of the leagues premier scorers. When you play for the Warriors it's hard to get noticed these days. Many have the perception that the 5th year swing-man is nothing more than a ball hog on a bad team. His 45.1% from the field suggests otherwise, Kobe and Carmelo's Shooting Percentage is around 46%. If you can hit 45% of your shots from the guard position, you should be a bulk shooter. Ellis is also an excellent passer and is becoming a solid defender.
2009-10 Stats: 25.5 PPG, 5.6 APG, 4 RPG, 2.2 SPG
Brook Lopez, 21, Nets C
Yes, the Nets have been the worst team in the league this year and probably one of the worst teams in NBA History. Am I the only one who thinks this team is talented? I simply don't get it, it's almost like they decided to throw the season after the first game! I always find it hard to blame a Center for a teams lack of success. Lopez is putting up some amazing numbers this year, usually 2nd-year, 21-year old post players aren't supposed to be this good so early! It will be interesting to see what happens when they put a team around him.
2009-10 Stats: 19 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1.78 BPG
Rajon Rondo, 24, Celtics PG
The best player on the Celtics is not on the big 3, it's Kentucky Alum Rajon Rondo. Rondo is the entire package, he can shoot, pass, rebound, penetrate, play transition, slow things down and set up an offense, and play Defense as well as any PG in the NBA. What's also impressive is that he's shooting 51% from the Field, point guards usually have the worst shooting percentage in the league. Only post players are supposed to shoot over 50%!
2009-10 Stats: 13.8 PPG, 9.8 APG, 4.5 RPG, 2.39 SPG
Russell Westbrook, 21, Thunder PG
It's pretty easy to be overlooked when you play with Kevin Durant. When the Thunder drafted Westbrook with the 4th Pick in 2008 draft, many scratched their heads. GM's around the league felt that he was a Combo Guard that didn't have the instinct to play PG, yet wasn't a good enough shooter to play SG. The Thunder clearly knew something the rest of league didn't. In only his second season in the league, Westbrook is already one of the leagues best all-around Point Guards. Like Rondo, he's has the ability to get a triple-double every time he steps on the court. The only thing he needs to work on is his jump shot, but that should come with experience.
2009-10 Stats: 16.3 PPG, 7.9 APG, 4.9 RPG, 1.4 SPG
David Lee, 26, Knicks C
Who would have thought that David Lee would end up being the best NBA Player from those dominant Florida Gator teams!? He's currently averaging 20-10 and is shooting an astounding 54.7% from the field. Despite all scouting reports, he just keeps getting better. His scoring average has increased all 5 years he has been in the league. I wouldn't think he's gonna get much better, but I thought that 2 years ago. The one knock is that he is a terrible defender, but he plays hard, which suggest it's not a forgone conclusion that he never will become a decent defender.
2009-10 Stats: 20.1 PPG, 11.9 RPG, 3.6 APG, .5 BPG
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Gerald Wallace, 27, Bobcats SF
I still remember when Scouts thought Wallace would be the #1 Pick if he left after his Junior year at Arkansas. After staying for his Senior year, his stock plummeted and he ended up being taken by Kings with the 25th pick in the 2001 Draft. Fast forward to 2010 and Wallace is one of the leagues best all around players. He's explosive, dynamic, and an excellent defender.
2009-10 Stats: 18.6 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.64 SPG, 1.16 BPG