Boston Misses You, Eddie!
In the past decade, the NBA has been noted for the many superstars in the game, from bigs like Shaquille O'Neal and Kevin Garnett, wings such as LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, and guards including Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash. It is true that certain teams would not succeed without the outstanding plays of these select individuals, but equally important to a teams' success can be the complementary role players.
In order to be a successful role player in the league, players have to accept their duties on their team, which may be shooting the three-ball, like Eddie House, or doing the dirty work, like Reggie Evans. The following players may never make the highlight reels, but their contributions do not go unnoticed by fans, coaches, and teammates.
Get That Weak Stuff Outta Here!
The oft-injured Camby has managed to stay healthy this season, but he's on the Trail Blazers, so is bound to go down soon. Despite that, his contributions this season have been vastly important for Portland, which lacks big men. The center from the University of Massachusetts only averages about 6 points per contest, but he knows his role is mainly defensive. At 11.4 rebounds per game and just under 2 blocks per game, he is the undisputed defensive leader of the Blazers. Along with this, he is a "glue" guy, as made evident by a recent game.
In a 100-85 victory over the Houston Rockets, Camby had 13 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 8 assists, 8 assists!!! Absurd assist total for a center, and he did this all while attempting 4 shots from the field. He might not be a superstar, but his teammates should treat him like one for all the good things he does on the court.
Way To Use Your Head, Darko!
The 7-foot Serbian has had some unrealistic expectations placed on him after being selected as the second overall pick of the 2003, but Darko Milicic has been a pleasant surprise for the Minnesota Timberwolves this season. After an abysmal offensive start to the season, Milicic has upped his scoring average to slightly under 10 points a game, but like Camby, his contributions are felt largely on the defensive end.
His rebounding numbers aren't always extremely high, but he is amongst the league's leaders in blocks at 2.3 per game. The future looks bright for the 25-year-old European import, and maybe his legacy will not be as a bust.
The Floor General For The Dinosaurs
The Spanish point guard and leader of the Toronto Raptors doesn't get much love, perhaps because he plays north of the border. Regardless, Toronto would be much worse without him.
He averages double-digit points per game, nearly 8 assists per game, and his percentages are terrific. At 47% from the field, 44% from three-point land, and 80% from the charity stripe, Calderon's raw percentages go essentially unmatched. But the most important stat is this: Calderon's assist-to-turnover ratio is over 4, good for tops in the league.
What You Got, Kobe?
Adding to the list of foreign players on this list, Thabo Sefolosha, the Switzerland native, is an irreplaceable piece of the Oklahoma City Thunder. While none of his stats will blow you away, Thabo is a model of consistency.
He is capable of reaching double-figures in scoring and rebounding on any given night, and is key on defense, averaging 1.6 steals per game. The most significant stat for a player like Sefolosha is perhaps games played, and he is played (and started) in every game for the Thunder for the past two seasons.
Just A Year Ago, Landry Was Hoopin' For The Cardinal
When looking at league-leaders in field goal percentage, there are only a handful of guards at the top. One of them is Landry Fields, and this stat is very impressive for a rookie. The second-round selection has surprised many, averaging double-digit points per game, while starting every contest. Rookie of the Year talk has revolved mainly around Blake Griffin and John Wall, but Fields has quietly won the first two Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month awards.
While it is not expected that Fields will be the ROY, he will certainly snag some votes, and his play has been integral to the Knicks' success. It should also be mentioned that Fields leads all guards in rebounding at over 7 per game.
Throw It Down, Big Fella!
While he may not be nearly the player he was during his Phoenix days, Shawn Marion still finds valuable ways to contribute to the Dallas Mavericks. Coming off the bench, Marion has managed to score just under a dozen points per game, pull down 6 boards a game, and shoot at a near-career best 52% from the floor. His awkward form has also been very successful from the free-throw line, where he is shooting at an 82% mark. His athleticism has suffered with age, but expect the Matrix to play a big role if the Mavericks want to make a championship run come playoff time.
Knocking Down The Trey
The point guard from the University of Arizona has been the main scorer for the majority of his 12-year NBA career, but Mike Bibby has undergone an extreme transformation this season. Averaging under 30 minutes per game for just the second time in his career, Bibby has made the most of his opportunities and become a very efficient player.
Shooting over 46% from the floor, good for second-best in his career, Bibby has been even more proficient from three-point range, shooting at easily a career-best 49% from beyond the line. The Hawks have been underachievers in the playoffs, and perhaps this year Bibby will push them past the barriers holding them back from postseason success.
Me And My Buddy 'Bron
Coming off the bench for the Utah Jazz, C.J. Miles enters the game with the main purpose of scoring. Playing just over 22 minutes per contest, Miles has scored just about 12 points per game in that time. He also averages 1 steal per game, providing a spark on the defensive end as well.
The 6-foot 6-inch wing is a very versatile player, and has a bright future ahead of him. This season, however, he will have to offer Deron Williams assistance if the Jazz hope to make an impact on the playoff scene.
Looking Good For His Age
Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems like this dude has been around forever. Corey Maggette has largely been a scorer throughout his career, and as (maybe) his career nears its end, that has not changed. In under 20 minutes per game, Maggette has managed to score a shade under 11 points per game, and is capable of putting up 20 on any given night.
While he may not necessarily be a favorite teammate, his talents should not be overlooked. On a slow-paced team like the Milwaukee Bucks, who are last in the league in scoring, a scorer like Maggette is crucial when points need to be generated, and ever since his entrance into the league in its initial season in 1946, he has done just that.
Gimme That Rock!
Ever since his days at Villanova University, the undersized Kyle Lowry has been a scrappy player. At just 6-feet tall and not a true point guard, Lowry has been doubted for all of his basketball career. The haters have been answered this season, as he has averaged better than 10 points per game to accompany nearly 7 assists a contest.
With the absence of Aaron Brooks for most of the season thus far, Lowry has helped the Houston Rockets hover around the .500 mark. Having been labeled a "spark-plug" for most of his career, Lowry has made big leaps this season.
Doesn't This Look Photoshopped?
Okay, okay. Yao Ming has been injured for the vast majority of this season, but he must be doing something right. With over 750,000 votes for the All-Star Game, which is more than 250,000 than the second-leading vote-getter, Yao has something going for him: the Chinese population.