NBA

10 Overlooked NBA Players Silently Carrying Teams in 2024

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We all know the stars and superstars of the NBA as the media has a habit of continually drumming up attention for specific people.

We can’t go more than a few days without LeBron James being mentioned for something completely irrelevant, for example, or the exploits of rookie sensation Victor Wembanyama

But what about the unsung heroes? What about the overlooked players who are crucial to their team’s success, but never seem to get talked about? Let’s move away from the superstars and shed some light on those that deserve respect.

Here are 10 overlooked players who are silently driving their teams to success this season.

CJ McCollum – New Orleans Pelicans

CJ has been a fringe All-Star player essentially all his career, but he’s always been in Damian Lillard’s shadow. As a result, he’s been overlooked all his career, and he’s only starting to get more recognition flying solo without Dame in New Orleans.

Yes, Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram are the one-two punch, but McCollum will give you an efficient 20 points each night with sound decision making and playmaking. He makes a triple-threat with the other two stars, and the Pelicans certainly miss his production when he’s not playing.

Pair that with the various injury issues Big Z and Ingram have had this season and you can see how important CJ is to the team. The Pelicans need a big game from him with Zion unable to go in Friday’s Play-In Final. 

Josh Hart – New York Knicks

Yes, NYC has a pretty deep roster now and a heap of players, but Josh Hart’s importance and contributions are overlooked. The Hart has been entertaining to watch since he was with the Lakers – he’s a fun guy, puts in 110% effort, and is AVAILABLE. This makes him invaluable.

His defense is excellent, he nearly averages a double-double, and is just one of those good hustle and energy players that every NBA team needs. In general, the Knicks may be the most overlooked team in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, as evidenced by their +2900 odds to win the title and an overall unserious perception by opposing teams and fans. 

Philadelphia 76ers center Paul Reed recently called the Knicks the “easier team” of the East’s top-two seeds.

Get your NBA Finals Bets in while you still can.

Rudy Gobert – Minnesota Timberwolves

The Stifle Tower is proving to people why the Timberwolves made the right decision to essentially give up their entire bench to acquire him. After a disappointing 2022-23 season, Gobert is at DPOY level again and he forms the bulwark of Minnesota’s league-leading defense, but you rarely hear him mentioned.

Instead, much of the chatter is about Anthony Edwards and his rise to superstardom. Rightly so though – to be fair, Ant Man is sensational, and he puts people in seats. BUT he and the Timberwolves wouldn’t be enjoying their top-three Western Conference record without the contributions of Rudy – it’s as simple as that.

Domantas Sabonis – Sacramento Kings

All-Star snub – check. Never gets credit – check. Snubbed by the media – check. Arguably the most skilled big man in the NBA next to Jokic – check.

It’s incredible how Domantas Sabonis is averaging 19.4 points, a career-high 13.7 rebounds, and 8.2 assists per game yet not enough people care! What does the guy have to do to get credit? He should have been an All-Star this season, as should his partner in crime De’Aaron Fox. You should take Sabonis over Paul George, Karl-Anthony Towns, or Devin Booker any day!

One can feel for Sabonis because if you watch a Kings game, you can see how much he improves his teammates andhow vital he is to their success. But because it’s the Kings, he is constantly overlooked.

Franz Wagner – Orlando Magic

Many NBA fans simply don’t know much about Franz Wagner. He’s a relatively understated player on an overlooked team but he is an integral cog in the Orlando Magic’s starting lineup and forms an excellent duo with Paolo Banchero.

This year, he’s averaging 19.7 points (48% FG, 28% 3PT, 85% FT), 5.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. Yes, his three-point shooting has taken an inexplicable dip this year, but Wagner remains an invaluable player in the team, despite the media concentrating their efforts on Paolo’s performances and other players like Jalen Suggs and Markelle Fultz (Let’s face it, the media never talks about Orlando anyway despite being one of the better Eastern Conference teams this season).

Bobby Portis – Milwaukee Bucks

Bobby Buckets! Despite being a home-crowd favorite, people often fail to realize how important Portis is to the Bucks. He has Sixth Man Award numbers but appears not in the race for the recognition.

The way the Bucks finished the regular season, and with Giannis’ status in question for Game 1, the Bucks need a consistent scorer and energetic bench player now more than ever. 

With Bobby, you know what you’re going to get – probably a double-double, maximum effort and energy, and he can randomly pop-off for 20+ too. What more could you want from your sixth man?

Coby White – Chicago Bulls

Let’s face it, without Coby White and his current play, the Bulls wouldn’t have even sniffed the Play-In Tournament. With Zach LaVine’s season-ending injury, someone had to take over and it’s been White. Throughout his short career, he’s had a range of issues and has never really turned out as expected.

2023-24 is where he’s starting to shine, but because it’s with the Bulls, few care. He’s averaging a career-high 19.1 points per game while upping his distribution to 5.1 assists per contest— nearly double from last season.

We are seeing improved playmaking and decision making and it’s certain that without his efforts, Chicago would be a hot mess. He willed them to victory with a 42-point outburst in their Play-In win over the Hawks Wednesday night.

Luguentz Dort – Oklahoma City Thunder

When you think of OKC, who do you think of? You probably think about the MVP-caliber play of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, or the incredible rookie season Chet Holmgren is having. After that, you then probably think about the upcoming star Jalen Williams and how much he’s developed this season.

Only then might you think about Lu Dort, and it’s incredible how the defensive monster of OKC barely gets a mention. Dort offers All-NBA-level defense, and it would be a crime if he didn’t make an All-NBA defensive team this year.

But that’s not the only thing that’s overlooked about him. Unless you are a diehard fan, most think he’s an average three-point shooter. And indeed, until this year he was. Before the 2023-24 season, his best three-point mark was 34.3% in the 2020-2021 season, whereas this year he’s shooting nearly 40%!

Ivica Zubac – LA Clippers

Not enough is said about the Clippers’ Croatian big man despite his obvious impact for the team. The funny thing is, the players can’t say enough about him – you only have to listen to PG13 speak about him on his podcast to see that he’s an incredibly valued player.

However, you hardly hear his name mentioned and instead everyone is fixated on Kawhi Leonard’s health, or how James Harden and Russell Westbrook are meshing. The guy gets 20/20 games, and it is rarely mentioned.

Sure, his stats aren’t All-NBA, but he averages 11.7 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game, and without him as the bulwark and commanding force in the paint, the Clippers would struggle. It’s pleasing to see how he’s progressed since his time with the Lakers and how important he is to the Clippers.

D’Angelo Russell – LA Lakers

D’Angelo Russell has received a heap of flack for his inconsistency and epic playoff choking. Most people point towards his dismal performance against the Nuggets last year and how he essentially became a liability.

After a slow start to the 2023-24 season, since the In-Season Tournament, Russell has been phenomenal with improved scoring, assists, and three-point efficiency. He’s been a big reason why the Lakers find themselves in the playoffs. Despite this, he’s still overlooked, and people expect him to fail when Round 1 opens this weekend. 

These Overlooked NBA Players Deserve Their Flowers 

We can’t deny the impact the above 10 players have had on their teams this season. Game after game they show up, put on a great performance, and make a real contribution. 

In some instances, like Domantas Sabonis, they have All-Star-caliber stats and play, but still get snubbed or overlooked! Do you agree with these selections? Who else do you feel never gets the spotlight but without them their team would be atrocious? Let us know in the comments!

About The Lead Staff

Articles by The Lead Staff.

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