The NBA All-Underrated Team
By Max Toth
The NBA is a star’s league. More than in any of the other pro sports leagues, standouts like LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant can single handedly carry their teams to glory. However, there are a ton of great players in the Association who too often are overshadowed by daily reports on LeBron's receding hairline or the controversial Kyrie Irving's latest spicy quote. So with that in mind, here’s a team consisting of a few of the NBA's "hidden wonders."
Point Guard: Dejounte Murray
Ever since the departures of former franchise cornerstones Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginóbili and Kawhi Leonard, the San Antonio Spurs have become one of the NBA's least consequential teams; which is probably what’s caused point guard Dejounte Murray to fly under the radar. Ever since he was picked with the 29th selection in the 2017 draft, Murray has been a lockdown defender. He was a 2018 NBA All-Defensive second teamer and recently picked up eight steals against Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors. Dejounte has also built on his offensive game and has become a steady scorer and reliable playmaker.
Shooting Guard: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
After his awesome performance in last summer's NBA bubble playoffs, Jamal Murray was widely knighted as Canadian basketball's premier player. However, trust me when I say that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is the present and future of Northern hoops. Sent to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the trade that brought Paul George to the L.A Clippers, Gilgeous-Alexander flourished under the tutelage of future hall-of-famer Chris Paul during CP3’s lone season in OKC. Shai averaged 19 points per game and helped the Thunder on an unlikely playoff run. In his third season, he’s averaging 22 points, 6 assists and cementing himself as the new face of basketball in Oklahoma City and Canada.
Small Forward: Khris Middleton
For obvious reasons, two-time MVP Giannis Antetokoumpo snatches most of the headlines when it comes to the Milwaukee Bucks. But Khris Middleton has established himself as a legitimate threat next to the ‘Greek Freak.’ A good defender with an all-around offensive game, Middleton is the exact type of player every team is looking for.
Power Forward: Julius Randle
When Julius Randle signed with the New York Knicks in the 2019 offseason, he wasn’t exactly greeted with open arms by Knicks fans who'd been dreaming of superstar free agents like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving descending upon Madison Square Garden. A lackluster first season as a Knick didn’t help endear Randle to fans, but he’s done a complete °180 this year and is averaging 22 points and 10 rebounds for a surprisingly solid New York squad. He may not be Kevin Durant, but Knicks fans aren’t complaining any more.
Center: Bam Adebayo
The Miami Heat made an unlikely run to the finals last summer and while it was a team effort, with big contributions from guys like Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro and Goran Dragic, Bam Adebayo was the engine that made the Heat go. Arguably the best interior defender in the NBA, Adebayo made his presence known in game one of the Eastern Conference Finals with a clutch block on Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum's game tying dunk attempt. On the other end of the floor, Adebayo’s best attribute is actually his passing as he pitches in 5 assists a game, good for second among centers. He also uses his aerodynamic 6’9" frame to roll to the basket and play above the rim. Whether or not Miami takes another trip to the finals, every conversation about the NBA’s best center should include Adebayo.
Bam is probably the highest profile player on our squad of overlooked ballers. On most expert's lists, however, he's considered to be only the fourth or fifth best center in the NBA. But like all the guys on this under-appreciated team, Adebayo is bound to get his rightful due in the near future.
All Bam and his buddies need is a little love from basketball boosters, which is what our all-underrated roster is really all about.