NBA Power Rankings: Shannon Brown and Each Team's Most Underappreciated Player

Joseph Fafinski@Joseph FafinskiCorrespondent IFebruary 9, 2011

NBA Power Rankings: Shannon Brown And Each Team's Most Underappreciated Player

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    Every team has that one guy that has doesn't have very lofty expectations, but then comes up big and does great things for the franchise.

    Shannon Brown of the Lakers is one of those guys.

    In just over 18 minutes per game, the 25-year-old Brown is putting up more than nine points per game.

    That would translate to 18 points per 36 minutes, something that would definitely be taken into a starting role, especially in a town like Los Angeles.

    However, Brown and many of the players on this list have not been given a necessarily fair chance to start or play time.

    With all that in mind, I hope you enjoy and I would like some constructive feedback!

Atlanta Hawks: Josh Smith

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    Sure, Josh Smith may have started all 51 games for the Atlanta Hawks this season, but that certainly doesn't mean he's not underappreciated.

    The fact of the matter is that the 6'9" Smith is putting up respectable numbers in all of the offensive categories, something that no one else in the league outside of maybe Miami can say.

    Smith is averaging 16.3 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.8 BPG, and 1.3 steals.

    Since teammates Joe Johnson and Al Horford are headed out West for the All-Star Game later this month, Smith qualifies as the most underappreciated Hawk.

    Throw in the fact that he's a lockdown defender and a high-flying dunker, and you've got an easy selection for Atlanta's club.

Boston Celtics: Glen Davis

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    The player in Boston that goes most widely unnoticed is the second-biggest guy on the team.

    The Celtics' Glen Davis, or "Big Baby" as you might know him, goes about his business while all the attention is shifted towards the Big Four in Boston.

    Big Baby is still averaging 11.8 PPG in just 29 minutes per game. His 5.2 rebounding clip is second on the team. He is shooting 75 percent at the free throw line, a number that is 20 percent better than Rajon Rondo's or Shaquille O'Neal's.

    He is quietly having the best season of his career, and just about no one is taking notice.

Charlotte Bobcats: Tyrus Thomas

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    Tyrus Thomas is literally making the most of every minute in Charlotte because he is averaging 21.6 of them per game.

    In that precious time the 6'10" Baton Rouge, Louisiana native is still averaging more than respectable numbers in points (11.1), rebounds (5.8), and blocks (1.7). He also excels at the free throw line, putting it in at an efficient rate-- 81.7 percent.

    Other than limiting his personal fouls, I honestly have no knock against him.

    In my opinion, Thomas needs more playing time and he is definitely one of the more underrated players in all of the league.

Chicago Bulls: Joakim Noah

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    I know he is injured right now, but Joakim Noah is without a doubt the most underappreciated Bull.

    All the attention in the Windy City automatically swarms Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, and Carlos Boozer, but the fact remains that Noah puts the frontcourt together.

    Before succumbing to injury, the 6'11" New York native was averaging 14 points, 11.7 rebounds, 1.1 steals, and 1.7 swats in 25 games.

    Without Noah, the Bulls hardly run the pick-and-roll, and rarely is it successful. 

    He is also a superior defender to any of his teammates, and his absence has been noted on the defensive side of the ball as well as the offensive.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Ramon Sessions

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    Ramon Sessions, in my opinion, with apologies to Mo Williams and Daniel Gibson, has become the best point guard in the dire situation that is Cleveland.

    Sessions shoots 45 percent, while Gibson shoots 40 and Williams shoots 38.

    Sessions nails 83 percent of his free throws; Gibson and Williams drain 82 and 81, respectively.

    The only thing Gibson does better is limit his turnovers (1.4 to 1.9).

    The only thing Williams does better is dish out more assists (7.1 to 5.3).

    Sessions is only averaging 25.3 minutes per game, and doing the most he can for the team in turn. Guys like Gibson and Williams clock in more than 30 minutes per.

    Even an underappreciated guy like Sessions won't help the God-awful Cavaliers, though.

Dallas Mavericks: Tyson Chandler

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    Tyson Chandler is leading the league with a 64.7 field goal percentage.

    That doesn't necessarily mean he is a great shooter, because he isn't, but rather than he is underappreciated as a player.

    While the Western Conference All-Star team struggled to find a center, Chandler wouldn't have totally been a bad decision. He is averaging 10.3 PPG and 9.6 RPG.

    Throw in the fact that he is the only Maverick averaging more than 0.8 blocks per game, and you have yourself someone who doesn't get the respect he deserves.

Denver Nuggets: Arron Afflalo

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    Quick, name the only player on the Denver Nuggets who has started all 52 games this season.

    Need a hint? Okay, he is leading the team in three point percentage at 44.9, good for fifth in the league.

    You need another one? Okay, he is second on the team in free throw percentage, at a solid 84.8 percent.

    Still don't know who it is?

    Fine, last hint: it isn't Carmelo Anthony, Nene, J.R. Smith, or Chauncey Billups.

    Give up?

    It's Arron Afflalo, one of the most underappreciated players in the league.

Detroit Pistons: Tayshaun Prince

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    I'll bet that most of the NBA's following outside of Detroit doesn't even know that Tayshaun Prince of the Pistons is a southpaw.

    Prince has long been putting up decent numbers in Motown, but playing behind stars like Richard Hamilton, Chauncey Billups, Rasheed Wallace, and Ben Wallace has always caused him to take the back seat.

    This season has been no different, as he is averaging 14.6 and 4.8 points and rebounds, to go with a team-leading .65 blocks per game.

Golden State Warriors: Dorell Wright

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    Every NBA thinks of Golden State in terms of a solid backcourt duo in Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis.

    What they don't know is how much of a breakout season their starting small forward, Dorell Wright, is having.

    Wright has started all 50 games for the Warriors and is third on the team with 16.6 points per game.

    I'll bet most of you didn't even know who he was before this team.

Houston Rockets: Chuck Hayes

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    For most of the season, Chuck Hayes has started at center for the Houston Rockets.

    The 6'6" Hayes plays game after game against guys who are six inches taller than him

    His 7.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per game averages seem paltry at first sight, but the fact of the matter is that Hayes is a spot on defender and takes no mercy from big men around the league, and for that reason he has become a valuable and underappreciated aspect of the Rockets. 

Indiana Pacers: Roy Hibbert

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    Roy Hibbert needs more playing time, it's as simple as that.

    A beast at 7'2", Hibbert puts up 12.6 points and grabs 7.8 boards per game, but he is only "rewarded" by playing 27 minutes per contest.

    Hibbert can truly become a force to reckon with in the frontcourt, but just about nobody in Indiana realizes this.

Los Angeles Clippers: DeAndre Jordan

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    The Los Angeles Clippers' frontcourt revolves around a guy by the name of Blake Griffin. Sure, Griffin has amazing numbers and is besting himself dunk after dunk, but a guy by the name of DeAndre Jordan is also having a productive year in LA.

    The third-year seven-footer out of Texas A&M, Jordan has started 42 games for the Clippers and is being efficient on both sides of the court. He is averaging 6.8 points to go with seven rebounds per game.

    Not too bad considering who else is in that dangerous frontcourt. It's too bad no one is noticing Jordan.

Los Angeles Lakers: Shannon Brown

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    Shannon Brown has quietly become the most efficient scorer on the Lakers' bench.

    In just 18.8 minutes per game, Brown is averaging over nine in that span. He is also shooting a spectacular 89.2 percent from the charity stripe on the year.

    In addition, the-high flying Brown turns the ball over less than once per game and is averaging a solid 1.42 steals per game.

    Not bad for a guy who hasn't been taken into consideration for the starting lineup all year.

    To Phil Jackson I say this: give this guy more playing time!

Memphis Grizzlies: Zach Randolph

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    Zach Randolph has been really underrated and underappreciated by just about everyone he has played for in his 10-year career.

    In the 2006-07 season, he put 23.6 points and grabbed 10 boards per game for the Blazers, and was "rewarded" by being shipped to the Knicks.

    Two years later he averaged 20.5 and 12.5 and was "rewarded" by taking his talents to Los Angeles.

    Last season for the Clippers he put 20.9 on the scoreboard every night, then was promptly thrown on a bus to Memphis.

    Why doesn't anyone want this guy? I'll take him on my team.

Miami Heat: Eddie House

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    Eddie House has been hitting big shots all season long for the Heat, most recently in a battle with the Oklahoma City Thunder that took place last weekend.

    More than half of his makes this year for Miami have been from beyond the arc (52 of 90) and he is shooting 44.1 percent from downtown.

    Throw in the fact that he is averaging seven points in 17.4 minutes, and you have South Beach's most underappreciated player.

Milwaukee Bucks: Andrew Bogut

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    Have you ever seen a video of Andrew Bogut's horrific injury from last winter?

    I have, but I wouldn't recommend it if you have a light stomach.

    The point of having Bogut here is that he came back from such a brutal end to last season, and has put up great numbers in Milwaukee, averaging 13.5 points and 11.5 rebounds in 41 contests.

    I'd say those numbers alone make him the Bucks' most underappreciated member of the roster.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Darko Milicic

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    Laugh all you want at my selection here, but as a Minnesotan I can't have it any other way.

    Darko Milicic is a tremendous shot blocker, and whether you like it or not he is trying to erase the "draft bust" label that has haunted him over his eight-year career.

    Darko's name mostly brings in chuckles, but if you actually watched him occasionally you'd realized that he swats 2.3 balls per game in just 24 minutes of play.

    This stat alone makes him the Timberwolves' most underappreciated player.

New Jersey Nets: Kris Humphries

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    Like most of the players on this list, New Jersey Nets' power forward Kris Humphries is making the most of his limited time this season in the NBA.

    The 6'9" Humphries, a Minneapolis native, is averaging 8.8 points and 9.2 rebounds per game, making just 25 minute appearances on average.

    He is also a decent defender and, yes, Kim Kardashian's boyfriend.

    The clearly inferior of the couple, Humphries is trying to find a permanent home in the league, and at just 26 years of age is hoping to be a mainstay this decade.

New Orleans Hornets: Emeka Okafor

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    If the Western Conference All-Star team wanted a center to start at the tipoff on February 20th in LA, they should've called Emeka Okafor.

    Okafor, like fellow 28-year old center Tyson Chandler, had an intriguing case but was overlooked by the voters.

    He is shooting a spectacular 59.3 percent from the field to go with 11 points and 10 rebounds on the season. He also contributes on the defensive side, blocking 1.78 per game and having stellar man-to-man post defense.

    Underappreciated? Definitely. All-Star? Probably should've been.

New York Knicks: Raymond Felton

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    Sure, much of his statistical matter and his play could be revolved around Mike D'Antoni's fast-paced offensive style, but the fact of the matter is that Raymond Felton is definitely becoming one of the best point guards in all of the game today.

    Felton is averaging 17.2 points and 8.9 assists, to go with a steal average of 1.8. This can be attributed to his quickness, something that was not always present in Charlotte.

    Felton has improved over the years and is not looked at as one of the best leaders, but in the upcoming seasons you will hear more about him as he progresses and becomes of the top few point guards.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Thabo Sefolosha

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    There's a reason that Thabo Sefolosha of the Thunder has started all 48 games in which he has partaken in this season.

    It has nothing to do with the paltry 5.1 points and 4.8 rebounds per game that he averages.

    The fact of the matter is that Sefolosha is one of the best one-on-one defenders you will find in this great league, and when one ponders the statistics it doesn't really show, other than the 1.35 steals that he averages.

    Sefolosha is often faced with the task of guarding the opposition's best playmaker, someone like Kobe Bryant of the Lakers, or Dwyane Wade of the Heat.

    His success on the defensive side alone makes him Oklahoma City's most underappreciated player.

Orlando Magic: Brandon Bass

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    Brandon Bass has improved his playing skills tremendously this season playing for the Magic.

    As a Hornet and Maverick, Bass cumulated a 5.8 point and 3.7 rebound average in four seasons.

    This year has been a different story. Bass is a defensive force to reckon with in the paint, and has boosted his averages to 11.1 and 5.6 this year.

    He and Dwight Howard make up (dare I say it??) the best frontcourt in the league right now.

    I'll bet not many of you could've known who he played for before reading this.

Philadelphia 76ers: Thaddeus Young

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    Thaddeus Young of the 76ers has been one of the most underappreciated players in all of the league ever since he first stepped on the hardwood floor.

    His 12.4 point per game career average and 50 percent shooting clip are reflective signs of the underappreciation.

    For some reason, this year he has started just once.

    Philadelphia needs to give this high-flying speedster more playing time if they want to contend in the future.

Phoenix Suns: Steve Nash

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    Steve Nash is easily the most well-known basketballer on this list, and some of you may be groaning when you first see his name.

    The fact of the matter is that Nash does more for Phoenix than just about anyone does for their respective team in this league, and it is for that reason that he is considered "underappreciated."

    Look at the supporting cast that surrounds Nash: a kinda-sorta-washed up Vince Carter, a 38-year old Grant Hill, and a sixth-year decent big in Channing Frye.

    Yet Nash continues to put up mind-boggling stats, with 16.7 points and 11.1 assists for the eighth-seed seeking Suns.

    Now if only he played defense-- then we could consider him one of the best ever.

Portland Trail Blazers: Wesley Matthews

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    I have been lobbying Wesley Matthews as one of the best young players in the league, and until everyone is in unison about this he will be considered underappreciated.

    The Blazers have hardly missed Brandon Roy and his injuries. He is the third-leading scorer in the City of Roses at 16.3 per contest, and he averages more than 1.2 steals additionally.

    He is mature beyond his years, averaging less than two turnovers and three personal fouls per game.

    Portland better hold on to the Marquette graduate before people start sending offers.

Sacramento Kings: Francisco Garcia

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    The longest-tenured Sacramento King, Francisco Garcia is a sharpshooter who doesn't get the recognition he deserves.

    He sports a lifetime 37.2 three-point percentage, and a 9.1 career points per game average. His free throw shooting is also above ordinary at better than 83 percent.

    The 6'7" guard/forward hybrid also excels on the defensive side, and turns over the ball at just a .71 clip.

    On top of it all, he averages less than 24 minutes per game, something that needs to turn around.

    The Kings need to get him the ball more often.

San Antonio Spurs: DeJuan Blair

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    DeJuan Blair, like Chuck Hayes, is an undersized center who definitely deserves more credit than he receives.

    Blair has excellent hands, stealing more than 1.2 balls every night. He shoots alright too inside of 10 feet, too.

    His averages, although not important in his game, are 8.1 points and 7.1 rebounds per game.

    Although he doesn't put up tremendous numbers, his intangibles will keep him in the Lone Star State for a while and he will get his well-deserved attention in the future once superstars Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginobili retire or take their talents elsewhere.

    Did I mention Blair is just 21 years old?

Toronto Raptors: Andrea Bargnani

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    The departure of Chris Bosh has made a seemingly-lasting impact for the Raptor's Andrea Bargnani.

    The 25-year old Italian might be the league's Most Improved Player, jumping his points per game average from 17 to almost 23.

    Bargnani himself is not underappreciated in Canada, but rather in the United States.

    If he holds onto his spot in Toronto, he could be one of the best in the league when all is said and done. He's got at least eight to 10 years left in him, as he has remained healthy for the majority of his five-year career.

    The former number one pick might be playing like it soon.

Utah Jazz: Paul Millsap

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    Paul Millsap might be appreciated in the state of Utah, but outside of there he is not exactly a household name.

    Earlier this season, he scored an incredible 11 points-- in 28 seconds. 

    The 25-year old Louisiana Tech product is earning his stripes for the Jazz, scoring 17.8 per game, an improvement over his previous-best 13.5 clip. His 7.8 rebounding average has slipped a little from last season's number, and that can be attributed to their summer acquistion of Al Jefferson, and these two have teamed up to cause a formidable duo in Salt Lake City.

Washington Wizards: Andray Blatche

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    Andray Blatche is a beast down low for the Washington Wizards.

    He doesn't necessarily receive all the attention that he should be merited.

    He averages nearly 16 points and nine rebounds per game, better stats than that of Tim Duncan's.

    The 25-year old, who skipped college and took his talents to the pros at 19, should be among the league's best centers, but for some reason the 6'11" big hasn't reached that level yet.

    He should've reeled in Most Improved Player votes last season but didn't. Time (and Washington's success) will tell when the Syracuse, New York native will gain more appreciation for his all-around solid game.