The National Basketball Association has become the most star-driven entity in all of professional sports, and NBA players have more power than ever before.
Whether it be the visibility of the athletes from their lack of helmets, an era of player empowerment, or the pop-culture crossover of the league’s superstars, the NBA has recognizable faces everywhere and on every team. However, there are a few faces that have been lost in the glitz and glamor this season.
Without further ado, here are five unheralded NBA players having amazing seasons.
Tyrese Maxey, Philadelphia 76ers
The 21st-overall draft selection in last year’s NBA draft has been arguably the second-best player on the team this season, behind MVP frontrunner Joel Embiid. Maxey has posted a line of 16.9 points, 4.6 assists, and 3.5 rebounds per game while shooting 39.0% from beyond the arc. The young guard is also a tremendous free-throw shooter, top-10 in assists-to-turnover ratio, and a solid defender, making him a staple in the team’s late-game lineups.
Robert Williams III, Boston Celtics
“Rob Bob” has been dominant in his fourth season and first as a full-time starter, averaging a career-high 30 minutes per night while ranking first in individual offensive and defensive rating, third in blocks per game (2.2), 14th in rebounds (9.7), and 19th in Player Efficiency Rating (21.86). Boston’s headlines typically revolve around Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, or even Williams’ frontcourt partner in Al Horford, but the argument could be made that Rob Bob has been the Celtics’ most impactful player this season.
Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers
Many are quick to forget Kevin Love’s Hall of Fame-worthy career, and the veteran is writing another great chapter in the book of his legacy. Love is scoring 14.3 points on 39.3% shooting from three in just over 22 minutes per outing, an incredibly productive return and luxury for the surprise Cleveland Cavaliers. Love shot a ridiculous 49.1% from outside in December, capped off with a 35-point explosion against the Atlanta Hawks and is the most underappreciated player on the fourth-place Cavs roster.
Jalen Brunson, Dallas Mavericks
The Dallas Mavericks’ second-leading scorer, now that Kristaps Prozingis has been traded to the Washington Wizards, is Jalen Brunson, a second-round pick out of Villanova in the 2018 draft. Brunson is averaging 16.3 points and 5.4 assists per night for the Western Conference’s fifth-best team despite spending lots of time off of the ball when on the court with superstar Luka Doncic. Brunson is averaging career highs across the board and deserves praise for his tremendous season— he is going to get PAID soon.
Jonas Valanciunas, New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans’ 29-year-old center has been lost in the wake up Brandon Ingram’s ascension, Zion Williamson’s absence, and CJ McCollum’s arrival, but none of that changes his production this year. Valanciunas has a standard of 18.0 points, 11.5 rebounds (fifth-best in the league), is 23rd in PER, and shoots an impressive 38.5% from long range. His first year in New Orleans has been a resounding success, and he could be a candidate for championship contenders looking to add a quality big man.
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