While the glory years of Jordan, Magic and Bird are long gone, the NBA is currently grooming its future stars right under your nose. Do you smell it? No, its not the King James-Kobe Bryant-Dwayne Wade headline acts you’re used to getting hyped about. These are the up and comers in the NBA; these are the players plagued by bad teams and bad markets…the finest of the NBA underground. I’ve compiled a list of the NBA’s most underrated and least talked about ballers who have ridiculous upside. So wake up, get your coffee and don’t sleep on the following:
CDR leads the Nets in scoring.
Chris Douglas-Roberts: I love guys with two last names. The second-year stud who was a teammate of Derrick Rose at Memphis has come into his own depsite playing for the woeful Nets. He is currently averaging over 18 points and 5 rebounds per game while leading the Nets in scoring. At 6’7” Douglas-Roberts is an above average perimeter defender and getting better.
Luis Scola: The 6’9 import from Argentina made a little name for himself last year during the Rockets series with the Lakers. But this year he has taken it to a new level averaging a double-double (15 point and 10 rebounds). A scrappy defender, Scola has that ability to get under the skin of opponenets and do ‘dirt.’
Jason Thompson: In his second year removed from uknown Rider University, this power foward is making strides for the Sacremento Kings starting in every game this year. While we hear little of west coast teams other the Lakeshow, Thompson has an impressive 14.5 point and 9.5 rebound per game average. The Kings are +20 when he’s on the court.
Russell Westbrook: Oklahoma City does have a team, the Thunder. He will soon be a household name; Westbrook has been a star since last year coming out of UCLA. His points and assists are up from his rookie year and he fills up stat sheets: 16.4 points, 7.1 assists, and 5 rebounds per game as a 6’3” guard.
Is Marc better than Pau?
While his brother gets all the ‘pub’ in L.A., dare I say Marc in Memphis is as good? Known as a good back to the basket and help-side defender, Marc is having a career year with 15 points and 11 boards a game. He is shooting over 60% while leading the team in blocks and ranks second in steals.
Kevin Martin: This kid has been on the rise over the past two seasons, and if you haven’t heard of him, you should. Despite only playing in five games this year, the 6’7” skinny guard (a career 17 point per game scorer) is averaging 30 points per game and shooting 44% from the arc. He is a scoring phenom.
Granger is the modern day Scottie Pippen.
Danny Granger: Another player that you should know about. Probably the most known on this list, Granger is the Pacer’s do-it-all guy. Having a career year with 24 ppg and just under 7 rpg, the versatile 6’8” forward is a modern day Scottie Pippen and fills up the offensive and defensive stat sheet.
Brook Lopez: I hated this guy in college, but the big man out of Stanford is one of the only good things happening for the New Jersey Nets. In a league with no centers, Lopez is developing into a guy who can score in the post and defend the basket. He’s getting 17 and 9 while blocking 2.7 shots per game.
Ryan Anderson: By no means a star, Anderson has added another piece to the 2009 Eastern Conference champion Orlando Magic. Hedo Turkoglu departed for Toronto, but the 6’11” sharp shooting Anderson will be a key to Orlando’s success. A spot starter averaging 13 ppg and 4 rpg in his second year, Anderson can stretch the defense giving Dwight Howard room to operate and an option to pass out of double teams.
Tyreke Evans:This kid is turning out to be a personal favorite of mine. The rookie who took over for Derrick Rose after leaving Memphis is another young talent in Sacremento. His physically imposing 6’6” 220 lb frame makes him a tough match up for any NBA guard. Evans is getting 18, 4.5 and 4.5 in his first 11 games with the Kings and should challenge Brandon Jennings for rookie of the year. Still developing, Evans has a tremendous upside offensively and has shown good insticts on the defensive end.