Make no mistake about it: the NBA is a league of stars. You need a star to be a successful franchise, and that success is defined by the number of Larry O’Brien trophies lined up in your office. No matter if you take the long road and wait for your young players to become All-Stars, or engage in a win-now approach and trade for a top-tier player, you need stars to bring home a championship.
But with the league already filled with established stars, there are some who are still overlooked by many. These five names I will enumerate are overshadowed by their higher-tier superstar teammates, but their production is already on par with the more popular players in the league.
5. Norm Powell
For some reason, Norman Powell‘s name wasn’t seriously considered for the Most Improved Player of the Year award last season. He doubled his scoring average from 8.6 to 16.0 points, while still maintaining a stellar 39% clip from the three-point line.
The problem is that the Raptors’ offense doesn’t really involve Powell that much. He is just attempting 11 field goals per game, while producing a 49% clip, a decent percentage for a perimeter player. If the Raptors give him more minutes and touches this season, I see Powell finally eclipsing the 20-point mark in scoring average.
4. Bojan Bogdanovic
It’s a shame that we didn’t get to see Bojan Bogdanovic duke it out with the Utah Jazz last playoffs. If he didn’t get injured, I honestly believe that the Jazz could have made a deeper run. Bogdanovic averaged 20.2 points on an exceptional 41% clip from beyond the arc. He also rebounds at a decent rate, and has become Utah’s secondary playmaker in half-court plays.
With other teams already marking Donovan Mitchell, Bogdanovic’s arrival in Utah was certainly a dire need. He is already one of the most efficient shooters in the league, and his defense is no slouch, either.
3. Malcolm Brogdon
As to why the Milwaukee Bucks let go of Malcolm Brogdon, I still don’t see a concrete reason. He was a jack-of-all-trades player for them, and was an excellent shot-creator and playmaker when Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton rest on the bench.
But his all-around prowess was in full display for the Pacers last season. He held the fort in the backcourt in Victor Oladipo‘s absence, and produced a career-best 7.1 assists per game. His three-point shooting efficiency dipped a bit, but I see him adjusting and going back to a 38-40% shooter from deep this season.
2. Khris Middleton
How is a two-time All-Star still perceived as an underrated player? Khris Middleton is still one of the most overlooked stars in the league, and people fail to see his versatility on both ends of the floor. He will not give you 30 points every night, but his efficiency has always been top notch.
Middleton averaged a 41% clip from deep last season, and an overall 49% from the field. He is not just doing it on catch-and-shoot situations. His 4.3 assists per contest means that Middleton is also handling the rock, so he is scoring on off-the-dribble scenarios at a high rate.
Along with his above-average defense, Middleton has rounded out to be a balanced star who has been an outstanding sidekick to the reigning back-to-back MVP.
1. Spencer Dinwiddie
Please get Spencer Dinwiddie out of Brooklyn and let him run his own team someplace else. After putting up career-highs of 20.6 points and 6.8 assists for the Nets last season, there’s no question that Dinwiddie is already a point guard capable of leading his own squad. With Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant returning to full form this season, Dinwiddie will again be relegated to a role off the bench.
If Dinwiddie can assume a first or second-option star role for another team, I see him making a run at an All-Star appearance this season.