The NBA’s Central Division has some of the league’s best. Milwaukee has Giannis, The Bulls have the DeRozan-Lavine duo, Detroit has reigning first overall pick Cade Cunningham, Indiana has newly acquired Tyrese Haliburton, and the Cavs have one-time All-Star Darius Garland.
These are the most recognized players on these teams. Below is a list of one player from each team that is criminally underrated and should be appreciated more by NBA fans.
Milwaukee Bucks: Bobby Portis, F
Bobby Portis at 6’10” filled in for Brook Lopez as the team’s big man beside Giannis during Lopez’s injury. Now, relegated to the bench, Portis remains effective. Now with his fourth team after being selected 22nd overall by the Bulls back in 2015, the 27-year old is in the midst of a career year.
He’s averaging career-highs in points rebounds, blocks, and minutes. His 15 and nine stat line a game has helped the Bucks through injuries and he’s going to be a key piece for Milwaukee come playoff time when they need some bench production.
Chicago Bulls: Ayo Dosunmu, G
The kid from Chicago brought top-level Illini Basketball back to Champaign and he’s helping do the same with his hometown team in the Windy City. Dosunmu, a second-round pick, has been special thus far in his rookie year.
He’s had to start over 30 games due to injuries and he’s been fantastic in every one of those starts. Though he was the 38th pick, he plays 27 minutes a game, enough for an already established role player.
He’s very effective from the floor, shooting above 50% from the field, and he’s even shooting 38% from behind the arc.
He doesn’t turn the ball over, and he’s one of the team’s best defenders. He’s reliable on offense and he’s lockdown on defense which gives Chicago’s star scorers time to rest on that end of the court.
Ayo is everything Chicago fans wanted and needed, and the crowd’s thunderous cheers for him every time he checks into the game or makes a fantastic play are astounding for a 22-year old.
Cleveland Cavaliers, Evan Mobley, F-C
Yeah, I know Mobley is likely going to win Rookie of the Year, and that would make it seem like he’s definitely not underrated. But Mobley is often categorized as one of the top rookies when really he’s very close to the top at his position in the entire NBA at the young age of 20.
Mobley plays a whopping 34 minutes a game, which is a lot. In those minutes he averages 15 points and 8 rebounds as well as almost 2 blocks each contest. It’s his rookie year, and he’s already tied for sixth in blocks per game.
Mobley is special as an inside scorer, starting every game he’s played all year and shooting over 50% from the field.
If Mobley can figure out his three-point shot, which I know he’s going to, he’ll be one of the best forwards in the NBA and I see multiple All-Defensive teams in his future.
Indiana Pacers: Oshae Brissett, G-F
Nobody really knows what position the former Syracuse Orange plays. At 6’7”, he’s a do-it-all type of utility player. Brissett showed flashes last season when he was called up from the G-league and scored in double-digits nearly every game of his 10-day contract including a 23 point outburst against Oklahoma City in April to seal the deal on his extension.
Brissett didn’t get much playing time when Indiana was trying to win at the start of the year, but once again he’s showing his worth and incredible talent more recently as the Pacers strive for a top lottery pick. Now as a starter, He’s had multiple 20 point games and he’s been a beast on the boards as well. He’s also a freak athlete which allows his team versatility defensively.
It’s Oshae’s third year in the league, and even if he’s not with Indiana next year, he’s a very solid role player who should carve out more than a respectable job in the NBA for the next decade.
Detroit Pistons: Saddiq Bey, G-F
Oh, Detroit. There’s not much to really like about a team who’s been trying very hard to lose from day one of the 2021-22 NBA season. They’re really one of the most horrendous teams I’ve ever seen play a full NBA season, and somehow there are worse out there even this year.
But there are a few bright spots on this team, and by far the most underrated is Saddiq Bey.
The former Villanova man in his second year is prospering as a result of Detroit’s lose-first attitude. He’s putting up about 16.5 points per game and almost six rebounds a game. Though his efficiency isn’t as good as his rookie year, that’s a result of the Pistons depending on him to be one of their main scorer, which he’ll never be.
Bey is the prototype role player that Villanova has been dragging out for the last five seasons. But Bey has figured out how to put up 20 a game on numerous occasions. He even has six double-doubles on the season.
And of course, Bey dropped 50 just a couple of weeks ago. So though he may not be underrated now after everyone saw what he could do, he seems to be forgotten about way too quickly when it comes to talking about Detroit’s future.
Bey is a future great NBA player, and if Detroit doesn’t want him in a couple of years, I guarantee another team will snatch him up to fill an important role.
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