10. Since entering the NBA straight out of high school Monta Ellis has made a strong case against the NBA’s new policy that mandates all high school basketball players spend at least one year in college after graduating. Ellis was a part of the last NBA draft that allowed players to come out of high school and he has been one of the more exciting guards since he’s hit the NBA. In this his fifth season Golden State Warriors’ Ellis is averaging 17.8 points for his career and is averaging career bests this season of 25.7 points per game and 5.3 assists per game. At age 24, Ellis has a chance to make his legacy special if he can continue to improve, keep those numbers where they’re at, and be a part of some winning teams.
9. Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves is just in his second NBA season but in limited playing time a season ago Love still led all rookies in double doubles. An obstacle that’s been in Love’s way early in his career is the fact that the team’s franchise player plays the same position as he. Because of this Love has bounced in and out of the starting lineup. But with averages still of 15.2 points and 11.4 rebounds in this his second season, Love is well on his way to an incredible NBA career.
8. Brother of Los Angeles Lakers all-star season center Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol was in the trade that sent Pau from Memphis to the Lakers two years ago. At the time many ripped Memphis for making the deal because at the time it was believed that Memphis got no talent back in the deal. But with averages of 14.9 points and 9.4 rebounds this season Gasol is nearly averaging a double double for the season and at age 25 Gasol can make a solid NBA career for himself.
7. Portland Trailblazers point guard Andre Miller has had a very solid career in his 11 seasons in the NBA. In his third season in the league with the Cleveland Cavaliers Miller led the NBA in assists with 10.9 for the season. Miller has held it down at the point position for five different teams and everywhere he goes he puts up solid numbers. Miller though has never been voted to an all-star team.
6. In his third NBA season Aaron Brooks of the Houston Rockets is averaging 19.4 points and 5.4 assists and made Houston comfortable enough last season to trade Rafer Alston who had manned the starting point position with the team for a few years. Brooks was close to having an all-star season this year and is a big reason why the Houston Rockets have remained in the playoff race all season long after not having Yao Ming or Tracy Mcgrady for the entire season.
5. David Lee of the New York Knicks might have been in the number one spot had NBA commissioner David Stern not handpicked Lee to be an eastern conference all-star after Philadelphia 76’ers guard Allen Iverson was not able to make the game. At 20.3 points and 11.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists Lee is having a tremendous season and is one of just three players in the NBA who are averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds on the season. After battling for minutes and a consistent role with the team Lee has outlasted all the other big men who were on the team when he arrived. Lee is actually the last man standing from the Knicks roster that was in his rookie season. The New York Knicks have more money under the salary cap this summer for the much anticipated free agent class than any other team in the NBA. The Knicks though must not sleep on their own man this summer.
4. Jamal Crawford has scored 50 points or more for 3 different teams during his NBA career. But until this season Crawford has had the stigma of a ball player who was strictly a gunner, not a team player nor a winning player and a guy that winning teams had no use for. Crawford who debuted in the league in 2000 has never played in a playoff game. Crawford has played in more games without reaching the playoffs than any other team in the NBA. This April however Crawford will be a part of the playoffs for the first time of his career with his Atlanta Hawks. Coming off the bench this season Crawford has added a huge lift for the team off the bench and is averaging over 17 points per game. Crawford has to be the leader for the NBA 6th man award and this season he has proved that he is no doubt an all-star caliber player.
3. Michael Beasley of the Miami Heat was the only high lottery pick taken in the 2008 NBA draft who never got the opportunity to be a consistent part of his team’s starting lineup. Despite being the number two pick overall a season ago, Beasley came off the bench the entire season and had unimpressive numbers of 13.9 and 5.4 rebounds a game as a rookie. This season as a starter Beasley has pushed those averages to 15.8 and 6.7. In games that Dwayne Wade has missed for the Heat this season Beasley has taken more of a role on offense and put up big numbers in those games. It appears here as if Beasley is still learning to play alongside a superstar who dominates the ball like Dwayne Wade.
2. Before this season Zach Randolph was another player who had the stigma of being a guy who put up good numbers for bad teams but was not a winning player. Randolph was nicknamed the “black hole” and looked at as someone who was a bad locker room presence. All of that is hot air and now that Randolph is on a Memphis Grizzles team that has surprised many by being a team that has played over .500 ball this season, Randolph who is one of three players to average 20 points and 10 rebounds this season was awarded with his first ever all-star appearance this season.
1. Nate “The Great” Robinson is number one on the list of most underrated players in the NBA. When given the opportunity Robinson is a flat put playmaker. But at 5’9 Robinson still has not been given that opportunity and still is held back by others who think that he is too short to be a starting player in the NBA. Robinson also deals with the misnomer that he is not intelligent enough to be a point guard in the NBA. Nate Robinson is one of the most exciting players in the National Basketball association and was a source of excitement for Knicks fans who’ve had to struggle through a string of losing seasons the last few years. Now with the Boston Celtics Robinson will have his chance to gain recognition on the big stage.