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25 most underrated players in NBA history

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The most underrated NBA players accomplished more than basketball fans realized. Despite racking up great numbers and getting lots of accomplishments, many great players in the NBA didn’t get the attention they deserved. It is the polar opposite of those greatly overrated NBA players.

Underrated NBA players

Determining the most underrated basketball players of all time is a subjective matter. We have to look beyond numbers, statistics, and accolades to grasp what they have really accomplished during their careers. Through this, we can get a better sense of which players really deserve more recognition.

Here are the 25 underappreciated NBA players of all time.

25. Jeff Hornacek

Jeff Hornacek was one of the most efficient scorers in NBA history. Throughout his 14-year career, he shot 50% percent from the field, 40% from beyond the arc, and 88% from the free throw line. He also had a true shooting percentage of .562 which is ranked 16th overall.

As one of the best and most consistent shooters, he led the league in free throw percentage for two seasons. Albeit not winning any championships, Hornacek played a significant role with the Jazz, especially in the postseason.


24. Detlef Schrempf

Detlef Schrempf was widely known for winning the Sixth Man of the Year award twice. He played for several teams but his best seasons were with Indiana and Seattle where he was selected as a three-time All-Star.

The forward averaged 13.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 3.4 assists throughout 16 seasons in the NBA. He’s often overlooked but he played a significant role in Seattle’s success in the 90s when they almost won a championship.

23. Horace Grant

Before Dennis Rodman, there was Horace Grant who did the dirty work for the Bulls. He was a solid mid-range scorer and rebounder during the first Bulls three-peat, averaging a double-double in two seasons. He was a one-time All-Star, four-time All-Defensive, and four-time NBA Champion.

Despite not having eye-popping stats and lots of accomplishments, Grant deserves to be recognized for helping the Bulls win three championships in the 90s and the Lakers in the 00s.

22. Chauncey Billups

Also known as “Mr. Big Shot”, Chauncey Billups is one of the underrated NBA point guards in the 2000s. During his 17-year career, Billups averaged 15.2 points and 5.4 assists per game. But perhaps his best season was in 2005-06 when he averaged 18.5 points and 8.6 assists per game. He also posted 15.5 win shares that season.


Billups was also the main factor when Detroit won the championship in 2004 due to his scoring prowess, playmaking, and defense. Apart from being a one-time champion, he was also a five-time All-Star, three-time All-NBA, and two-time All-Defensive.

21. Tony Parker

The Spurs wouldn’t be successful without Tony Parker. He was a great point guard who averaged 15.8 points and 5.6 assists for San Antonio in 17 seasons. Apart from winning four NBA championships, he was a four-time All-Star and four-time All-NBA. He also received the Finals MVP award in 2007, becoming the first European-born player to win the award.

Parker was severely underrated due to his style of play. He wasn’t flashy but instead, he always made the right plays and played winning basketball under a system.

20. Paul Pierce

Nicknamed “The Truth”, Paul Pierce is madly underappreciated. He had a great career but fans are invalidating his accomplishments due to his takes as an analyst. Throughout his career, he averaged 19.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game and was selected as an NBA All-Star ten times and named All-NBA four times.

What makes Pierce different from the rest of this list is his ability to hit big shots in the clutch. He was a big-time performer when it mattered the most. Pierce spent the majority of his career with the Celtics, where he won the championship for the first time and was named the Finals MVP.

19. Jerry West

Widely known for being the NBA logo, Jerry West was a great scorer at his time. He had a great career and racked up a lot of accomplishments, including being a 14-time All-Star, five-time All-Defensive, and 12-time All-NBA.

Throughout 14 seasons, West averaged 27 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 6.7 assists. He became the NBA scoring champion in 1970 and won the NBA championship two seasons after— three years after winning Finals MVP. There’s more to West’s career than just being the famous NBA logo.

18. Kevin Johnson

Kevin Johnson was one of the most underrated NBA players ever. He won the Most Improved Player award after having a breakout season in 1989 with the Suns, averaging 20.4 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 12.2 assists per game. At a young age, he also helped Phoenix reach the Western Conference Finals in two consecutive seasons in 1989 and 1990. And in 1993, he almost won a championship with Charles Barkley.

Johnson is one of the few players to average 20 points and 10 assists for three consecutive seasons. Throughout his career, Johnson earned three All-NBA Star selections and five All-NBA Team selections.

17. Elvin Hayes

Elvin Hayes is one of the best power forwards ever. He played alongside Wes Unseld, forming one of the best frontcourt duos in NBA history. Hayes averaged 21 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game in his 16-year career, winning the scoring title in 1968 and leading the league in rebounds in 1970 and 1974.

Apart from his whopping numbers, Hayes was a 12-time All-Star, six-time All-NBA, and two-time All-Defensive. But most importantly, he won the championship in 1978 with the Bullets.

16. Alex English

One of the best players in the 80s was Alex English, as he scored the most points during this decade. He stormed the league when he played for the Nuggets, averaging 25.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game. He won the scoring title in 1983 and put up almost 30 points per game two seasons after. English also achieved a lot during his career and was named an eight-time NBA All-Star and three-time All-NBA.

Despite being the best scorer in the decade, English was overshadowed by Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Michael Jordan. If not for these three, he would get greater recognition. Moreover, he didn’t win any championships with the Nuggets despite making the playoffs almost every year.

15. Fat Lever

Another underrated player from the Nuggets is Fat Lever. He was a great point guard in the late 80s, averaging 13.9 points, 6 rebounds, 6.6 assists, and 2.2 steals throughout 11 seasons in the league. Apart from being a great scorer and playmaker, he could also rack up rebounds which made him a triple-double threat every single night.

While English led Denver in scoring, Lever led them in assists and rebounds. His best season was during the 1988-89 campaign when he averaged 19.8 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 7.9 assists per game. Surprisingly, Lever didn’t make the All-Star Game that season, but the season before and the season after.

14. Mark Price

Mark Price is one of the most underrated basketball players of all time. He was known for being a deadly shooter from beyond the arc and from the charity stripe. He was a career 40.2% shooter from three and is third in the NBA’s all-time free-throw percentage. Being an efficient scorer, Price is currently one of the few players in the 50/40/90 club.

Throughout his career, Price averaged 15.2 points and 6.7 assists per game. He was named an All-Star four times and was selected to the All-NBA Team four times as well. His shooting and playmaking ability was ahead of his time.

13. Nate Thurmond

Also known as “Nate the Great”, Nate Thurmond played most of his career with the Warriors. He was a double-double machine, averaging 15 points and 15 rebounds per game. He was also widely known for his defense, being on the All-Defensive Team five times in his career.

Additionally, he was the first player to ever record a quadruple-double.

Thurmond is one of the most underrated NBA players of all time and is often overshadowed by Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain as the top big men of their era. The seven-time All-Star didn’t win any championships, but he was a great player nonetheless and deserves more recognition.

12. Adrian Dantley

Adrian Dantley played for seven teams throughout his 15-year career in the NBA but it was with the Jazz where he shined the most. In Utah, he led the league in scoring twice and averaged more than 30 points in three consecutive seasons and 26 points per in the succeeding two seasons.

After seven great seasons with the Jazz, Dantley was traded to the Pistons where he averaged more than 20 points per game. However, just before the Bad Boys won a championship in 1989, Dantley was traded to the Mavericks at the trade deadline of the prior season. Still, Dantley warrants greater appreciation for being a two-time scoring champion and six-time All-Star.

11. Sam Jones

When it comes to winning championships, Sam Jones is one of the most winningest players ever. He came behind Bill Russell for most championships in the NBA with 10 titles. Like Russell, Jones played a significant role that helped the Celtics dominate that era. He was also a five-time NBA All-Star and three-time All-NBA.

Jones was known for being a great scorer, averaging 17.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 2.5 assists throughout his career. But Jones will always be remembered for his ability to hit big shots when it mattered the most. He’s not called “Mr. Clutch” for nothing.

10. Rasheed Wallace

One of the most underrated NBA players ever is Rasheed Wallace. Throughout his career, he averaged 14.4 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. While his stats may not stand out, he was a key player for the Pistons’ championship run in 2004 and to a lot of playoff teams.

Wallace was underrated in all aspects of the game, providing much-needed spacing with his three-point ability and giving it all on the defensive end. As a result, he was a four-time NBA All-Star, one-time All-NBA Second Team, and one-time NBA All-Rookie Team.

9. Jack Sikma

Jack Sikma is one of the most underrated NBA centers ever. During his 15-year career, he was a walking double-double, averaging 15.6 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. Sikma was also a career 85% shooter from the free throw line, something that big men struggled with back then. Additionally, he also led the league in free throw percentage once.

Sikma also won the NBA championship in his sophomore season with the Sonics, averaging 15.6 points and 12.4 rebounds in the regular season and 14.8 points and 11.7 rebounds in the playoffs. Apart from winning the championship, he was also a seven-time All-Star.

8. Dennis Johnson

Dennis Johnson played a significant role as a glue guy for the Celtics team. Playing alongside Larry Bird and Kevin McHale made him one of the most underrated NBA players ever.

Throughout his career, Johnson was a three-time NBA champion, one-time Finals MVP, three-time All-Star, two-time All-NBA, and nine-time All-Defensive. He was known for his scoring and defensive ability. DJ could guard anyone and score anywhere on the court, averaging 14.1 points, 5 assists, and 3.9 rebounds per game. But his ability to perform in the clutch is what made him truly special.

7. Shawn Marion

When it comes to stuffing the stat sheet, Shawn Marion is one of the best players due to his ability to score, rebound, and rack up steals and blocks. He averaged 15.2 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.5 steals, and 1.1 blocks per game throughout his career. His elite defense made him one of the few players in NBA history to record at least 1,500 steals and 1,000 blocks. He was also in the top 5 in rebounding and steals twice.

Apart from helping the Suns get into the Finals in 2005, the four-time All-Star will always be remembered for playing a significant role in the 2011 Mavericks championship team, which is one of the best title runs of all time. His versatility on both ends of the floor was invaluable for these teams.

6. Scottie Pippen

Scottie Pippen is one of the most underrated NBA players of all time. His stats and accomplishments were being overshadowed by Michael Jordan. However, without Pippen, there would not be six championships in Chicago. He played a pivotal role that helped the Bulls reign in the 90s.

Throughout his 17-year career, Scottie Pippen was a seven-time All-Star, seven-time All-NBA, and ten-time All-Defensive. He was known for his defense, guarding anyone one through five. He also recorded 200 steals and 100 blocks in one season, a record that only Pippen, Jordan, and Hakeem Olajuwon have.

5. Joe Dumars

When you talk about the baddest boys on the Pistons’ championship roster, names such as Dennis Rodman, Bill Laimbeer, and Rick Mahorn always stand at the top. However, there’s also one Bad Boy that played a significant role in Detroit’s back-to-back title run and that’s Joe Dumars.

The six-time All-Star was the Pistons’ leading scorer in those two seasons, averaging 17.5 points and 5 assists per game. His most notable performance is when he averaged 27.3 points per game against the Lakers in the 1989 NBA Finals, crowning him the Finals MVP. Apart from his scoring ability, Dumars was also a great defender. He was selected to the All-Defensive First Team four times throughout his career.

4. Sidney Moncrief

Also known as “Sid the Squid”, Sidney Moncrief was one of the best players in the 80s, offensively and defensively. He averaged 15.6 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game throughout his career. But it was his defense that stood out. Moncrief was a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and five-time All-Defensive First Team.

The five-time All-Star was supposed to have a long and illustrious career. However, due to a degenerative knee condition, he was forced to retire after 11 seasons in the NBA. Still, he did a lot of damage during his time and will always be a Bucks legend.

3. Moses Malone

When it comes to dominant big men in the 70s and 80s, we always talk about Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell. However, there’s also one big who was as dominant as them but never got the appreciation he deserved. His name is Moses Malone.

Malone averaged 20.3 points and 12.3 rebounds in his 21-year career. He was a one-time NBA champion, one-time Finals MVP, three-time season MVP, and 13-time All-Star. He was also an eight-time All-NBA Team selection and two-time All-Defensive Team pick. Malone is also ranked tenth in the NBA’s all-time scoring list. What a legendary career for one of the best centers of all time.

2. Bernard King

Despite having a spectacular career, Bernard King is one of the most underrated NBA players ever. He was a one-time NBA scoring champion, four-time NBA All-Star, two-time All-NBA First Team, two-time All-NBA Second Team, and one-time NBA All-Rookie Team selection. He averaged 22.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.3 assists throughout his 19-year career.

His best days were in New York where he averaged 26 points and 33 points per game in two consecutive seasons. Despite tearing his ACL in one of his seasons as a Knick, he bounced back and averaged over 22 points per game the season after. King was literally a walking bucket back in the day and no one could stop him.

1. Manu Ginobili

Drafted 57th overall, Manu Ginobili is the most underrated NBA player of all time. Fans overlooked his legendary career since he played with the Spurs, alongside Tony Parker and Tim Duncan. Moreover, he didn’t get enough recognition since he played a key supporting role for them at the time. However, the Spurs franchise wouldn’t get four championships without Ginobili’s contributions.

Throughout his career, Ginobili was a four-time NBA champion, two-time NBA All-Star, two-time All-NBA selection, and one-time Sixth Man of the Year. He averaged 13.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 3.8 assists. His stats may not look that great but he had an immeasurable impact with the Spurs that goes beyond numbers.

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