Sunday , Feb , 05 , 2012 Paul Eide

Most Underrated Player in the NBA?

With roughly a third of the regular season in the books, I thought it would be an interesting time to take a look around the league and see who is over performing based on previous expectations.

Through a series of text conversations and Facebook interactions, the names below are the ones I kept hearing repeatedly.

Obviously, because we’re talking about players who are being overlooked, if there is anyone you think deserves some credit beyond the players on the list, leave a comment below.

Roy Hibbert

Hibbert has been a huge contributor for a Pacers team that finds itself in second place in the Central Division when most people weren’t expecting much from them. Hibbert is averaging career highs in nearly every significant category including points (13.7 pg), rebounds (9.7 rpg), FG% (.508%) and blocks (1.8 bpg).

LaMarcus Aldridge

If he’s not the most underrated player overall, he’s at least the most underrated superstar on any NBA team. The 26 year old is having a monster season that few people are aware of. Part of the reason is that Aldridge has been so consistent throughout his first five NBA seasons, he’s taken for granted. Like Hibbert he is averaging career highs in every significant category- ppg (23.1), rpg (8.8), spg (1.0 spg). And even though he’s taking more shots (18.1 spg) he’s shooting a career best .515% from the field.

Marc Gasol

I recently covered the season Gasol has been having here. He’s kept the team’s low post game afloat while it waits for the return of “Z-Bo”, Zach Randolph.  His production across the board is arguably what aids in the lack of credit, because he is easy to take for granted. But his numbers (15.1, 10.5, 2.8, 2.3, .516% FG and .737% FT) don’t lie.

Luol Deng

Deng is an interesting player because you really can’t measure his impact by statistical production. If you did, you’d see he was solid in all areas, but not overwhelming or necessarily impressive. He keys the Bulls ability with his high-pressure defense, usually guarding the other team’s best offensive player. The Bulls were 4-3 in seven games without him recently which sums up how important he is.

Jrue Holiday

The 76ers 17-7 start, and four game lead in the Atlantic Division, is still the biggest surprise amongst surprise teams. Holiday leads the squad in minutes and serves as the steadying hand, setting the pace and maintaining the tempo throughout the game. You could probably pick a couple guys off the Sixers and argue that they are the most underrated player in the league.

Kyle Lowry

Lowry has thrived in Houston since becoming a starter last season after three years in Memphis as a reserve, primarily. He’s averaging career highs in ppg (14.8), spg (2.0), rpg (6.2) FT% .863% and apg (8.2) which is eighth highest in the NBA.

Jeremy Lin

Sure, his inclusion in this list is based off of his 25 point, 7 assist, 5 rebound, 2 steal performance last night in a victory over the Nets, but what if he can key a badly needed Knicks turn around? And to think, he’s been sitting on the bench this whole time.

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/24121734@N05/5511266847

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