All the buzz in the NBA these days is about the stars, and why shouldn't it be?
People will always be more interested in where Carmelo Anthony will spend his future, than what kind of impact Tyrus Thomas will have next season.
What many fans don't realize is that it takes much more than top tiered stars to win an NBA championship. It even takes more than a solid sixth man to back them up.
If you have title aspirations in this league, you better make sure you have the right role players.
The right role player can do more for your team that a few points and rebounds. The right role player can spark an offense that's been dead in the water. A solid role player can make defensive stops that save games, even an entire series.
These are the top ten Role Players in the league today.
As much as I hate Glen Davis, the dude is simply a great role player.
Glen brings everything to the table that you could possibly want. He can hit the occasional jumper, he drives to the hoop with reckless abandon, and most importantly, he's passionate.
In case you didn't see the Finals last year, there are countless photos like the one I have provided here that show the passion literally exploding out of him. As much as I hate seeing that face of his looking like that, I love the passion.
It's the passion and heart he possesses that gives him the ability to change games. (Game 4)
While I dread the thought of him wearing purple and gold at any point in time, the bottom line is that any team would be lucky to have him.
J.J. Hickson is a role player who now finds himself in a good situation.
Last year he pounded the glass and managed to score in bursts for the Cavaliers, although his playing time was relatively short. He has shown good hops, and has impressed many with his ability to block shots and get to the rim as the recipient of many Ally-oops.
Now Lebron has left town, and this could be good news for Hickson's career. Sure it's not good for how many titles Hickson may win, but with Lebron gone the Cavaliers are going to expect a lot more production from players like Hickson.
His minutes will be increased, his stats should increase across the board, and he just may develop into a more potent force out on the hard wood.
This photo in my opinion sums up Tony Allen perfectly, he's a pest.
Allen is known for his suffocating and pestering defensive skills on the wing, not his jump shots. While he can knock one down here and there, he's far from a reliable contributor on the offensive end.
This however does not stop him from being one of the top role players in the game today. Tony Allen is a valuable commodity these days because he's a member of a dying breed, he plays defense. He'll try to strip you, knock you down, get a hand in your face, or anything else he can think of to get the ball back to his teammates.
Now that he's had a change of scenery (Memphis), it will be interesting to see what he can produce for another team. He was a scrappy player in Boston due to Thibidau's defensive schematics, and now Memphis is hoping they picked up a new stopper to help the Grizzlies keep opponents guards in check.
The bottom line with Allen is if a team needs the ball back in crunch time, he's the perfect player to have out on the court. That is one role that is vital on every team.
With the exception of the "Big Three", Eddie House just may be the most vital part of the Miami Heat this year.
Sure the Super Stars will carry the team most of the time, but what happens when the stars are tired and on a cold streak? Someone is going to need to come off of the bench and take care of business when the chips are down in Miami, and that's something that Eddie House proved he could do with the Boston Celtics.
He has a near unlimited range, can score in surges, and has a dynamite fast release. His pivotal role for the Heat will be to come in when things look stale and hopeless, and hit huge shots. Without a player like House to fill that role, the Heat could only go as far as the starters abilities. With him, they have a dynamic scorer who can provide scoring bursts in critical stretches, and throw daggers into the hearts of their opponents to finish games.
You can bet that House knows his role for his new squad, and he's willing and able to deliver.
Quentin Richardson is seen two different ways by NBA fans.
He's either a terrific scoring option, or a terrible decision maker and ball hog. The truth of the matter is that he's a combination of both. Richardson has shown to be both a great outside shooter, and a liability on the offensive end. He tends to shoot the ball too much and at bad times, and has also made no secret that defense is not one of his top priorities.
But what does this all mean for the Orlando Magic? (Who recently acquired him)
The situation for the Magic is not too bad in terms of Richardson. Quentin has his share of flaws on the court, but the Magic picked him up to be exactly who he is, a scorer.
They want Rich to be a solid lift off of the bench, and an outside scoring threat to stretch the defense for Dwight Howard. Richardson should be able to handle that task with ease, even if he is a little lack luster in other areas.
Quentin was not meant to be a star in this league, but he has turned out to be one heck of a role player when he applies himself.
Daequan Cook also finds himself in a unique situation in Okalahoma, but it may not be the right one.
Cook has proven himself to be quite the three point marksman in the past. Although his percentage fell off a bit last year, he could always rebound it back to familiar heights. (38%)
Daequan would find himself to be a good option off the bench for most teams, but he may be so far back on Oklahoma's bench that he never sees the floor. Oklahoma seems content with Thabo Sefalosha in the starting two guard spot, and no one is taking the relief role from James Harden.
This means that the playing time for Cook will be limited, and could hinder his ability to be effective. The reason I include him in my top role players for this year, is that with some minor roster changes, he very well could be. He has the ability to be a player who hits shots in big moments, and stretch the defense.
From the looks of things right now, Cook will have to prove he can still knock down the long ball with consistency to see the floor. I believe that's something he should be able to do.
One thing that's certain is Cook has the potential to make big shots for the Thunder, and he could be a large asset to them come post season time.
Known to many as the "Brazilian Blur", Leandro Barbosa was at one point the best sixth man the NBA had to offer.
He could strike with amazing quickness, run the fast break, and proved to have unlimited range on the court. These days he may not be as sharp as his prime time in Phoenix, but he still has the ability to be one of the more solid role players in the NBA.
Recently acquired by the Toronto Raptors, Barbosa is expected to provide a lift for the Raptors offense now that Bosh has left for greener pastures. I expect to see a rise is Leandro's performance this year in his new role with Toronto.
The role Barbosa is expected to fill in Toronto is one he is very capable of capitalizing on, and should provide plenty of entertainment for the fans.
When you think of the best shooters in the league today, Kyle Korver's name is not too far down the list.
He's a career 43% shooter, and a career 41% shooter from beyond the arc. Those are some deadly numbers he adds to his teams arsenal. While Korver can be a streaky shooter, when he gets going your best bet is to take cover.
Now that Korver is on the Bulls roster, he's in a great position to give the Bulls some much needed offense off the bench. He may not see the starting position in Chicago, but he will certainly play a role in the teams offensive scheme.
If Korver can manage to keep his streaky days to a minimum, the Bulls could greatly benefit from his deadly shooting.
Tyrus Thomas continues to be a question mark kind of player.
He flies high, he throws down flashy dunks, he blocks tons of shots, yet he is still on most peoples underachievers list. To say that Tyrus is inconsistent is a dramatic understatement, but when he's on his game, he truly is a scary force out on the hard wood.
No one really knows which Tyrus they'll get from one night to the next, and that has to be bothersome for management. Most people keep believing that his best days are still ahead however, and that he will shake his hot today cold tomorrow reputation.
The Bobcats are still trying to make a push to relevancy in the NBA these days, and if Thomas could put his whole game together every night, they could have a great chance of making a splash this year.
Thomas will have to earn his minutes playing behind Boris Diaw, but his versatile skill set should allow him to get out on the court early and often.
Matt Barnes has always been a solid role player, but this year he has a chance to be the best role player in the league.
On many teams Barnes would be a starter. Now that he's landed in Laker Land on a roster brimming with talent, he'll have to come off of the bench playing behind Artest. This will be a minute reduction for Barnes, but it may be just what the Lakers needed for this seasons battle to Three-Peat.
Matt Barnes brings an enormous amount of skills to the table, or court rather. He can score in bunches, nail the three-ball, pester the wing guards on the defensive end, run the fast break, and provide a much needed spark to the offensive end.
He will have the opportunity to make a substantial impact for the Lakers, especially on the defensive end. The largest asset he brings to the table is one he shares with now teammate Ron Artest, and that's the ability to get in the head of his opponent.
He does add another bad boy to the Lakers equation, but my guess is he'll keep things mostly in check as Artest of last year.
Barnes has the opportunity to lend a small hand to the Lakers efforts this season, and also the chance to be the best role player in the NBA if he so chooses.