The All-Underrated Team for the 2020-21 season

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Frank Urbina
·11 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

With talk of which NBA players are the most underrated right making the rounds on social media this week, we thought it would be a good time to come up with our own All-Underrated Team for the 2020-21 season, both a starting five and an accompanying bench to go along with it.

In total, we picked 15 players at different positions who we believe still don’t get enough respect, be it from fans or the media at large.

Below, check out our All-Underrated Team for the 2020-21 NBA campaign.

Point Guard: Terry Rozier

There was a time where Charlotte Hornets point guard Terry Rozier was considered an inefficient chucker, a player capable of scoring 20 points on any given night but one who'd require a lot of shot attempts to do so. Now, that couldn't be farther from the truth, as Rozier has blossomed into one of the most underrated lead guards in basketball, averaging 20.3 points nightly this season to go along with 4.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.3 steals. Even Rozier's shooting marks are tidy this year, as the Louisville product is hitting 40.4 percent of his outside looks and 83.2 percent of his attempts from the foul stripe, making him a very efficient high-volume scorer on the year. Rozier is also a feisty defender, using tenacity and quick feet to make life difficult on a nightly basis for opposing guards. Despite being given a huge role that has led to him posting the highest usage rate of his career this season (24.0 percent), Rozier has responded fantastically for the Hornets, producing inarguably his best campaign as a professional. Eventually, more people will take notice of how good of a point guard Rozier has become, but that probably won't happen at least until the playoffs, where the Hornets will have a bigger platform to show fans what they've been missing out on in 2020-21. For the latest Terry Rozier rumors, click here.

Shooting Guard: DeMar DeRozan

During his time with the Toronto Raptors, it's possible DeMar DeRozan was properly rated, or perhaps even a bit overrated thanks to inflated scoring numbers. However, that is no longer the case whatsoever, as DeRozan hasn't made an All-Star Team since joining the San Antonio Spurs in 2017-18, despite still quietly being one of the best shooting guards in the league during that span of time. This season, the one-time 2nd Team All-NBAer probably deserved an All-Star nod, though being in the Western Conference makes that exponentially more difficult than being a player in the East, as DeRozan has been downright elite on the year, putting up 21.1 points, 4.3 rebounds and 7.2 assists nightly in a role that has him playing one or two spots up the positional scale most of the time. According to Basketball-Reference, DeRozan has actually played power forward for the Spurs roughly 67 percent of his time on the floor, something that would have been unheard of for the high-level scorer a few years back. And DeRozan has responded brilliantly in that role for San Antonio, posting the best Box Plus/Minus (BPM) mark of his career (3.5), as well as the highest Win Shares per 48 Minutes (WS/48) clip of his time in the NBA (0.181). League-wide, DeRozan actually ranks 26th overall in Value Over Replacement Player (VORP) this campaign, 26th in WS/48 and 28th in BPM. Now, outside of San Antonio, has DeRozan been talked about as being roughly a Top-30 player in the league this season, which is what multiple advanced metrics say he is? Certainly not. And that's why DeRozan is the starting 2-guard in our All-Underrated Team in spite of being a four-time career All-Star. For the latest DeMar DeRozan rumors, click here.

Small Forward: Mikal Bridges

When discussing the Phoenix Suns' spectacular 2020-21 campaign, most of the praise goes either to Devin Booker or Chris Paul, and rightfully so, as the team's star backcourt has been absolutely spectacular all season long in leading the Suns to a 40-15 record and the No. 2 seed in the brutal West. But one player who deserves more recognition for his role in helping lead the Suns to such great new heights is third-year swingman Mikal Bridges, who has blossomed into one of the most effective 3-and-D wings in the Association on the year. For the season, Bridges is averaging 12.9 points and 4.5 rebounds while posting an extremely tidy 61.8 effective field-goal percentage, which takes into account field-goal and three-point percentages. What's more, according to Synergy Sports, Bridges grades out as an excellent transition scorer, as well as a very good spot-up shooter and cutter, three areas that any role-playing wing needs to excel in to be effective. Bridges is fantastic in all three key facets, as well as on the defensive end, where his length, agility and basketball IQ help him thrive. So although Bridges may never be a star putting up over 20 points per game, in his role, that of a complementary piece on the wing who has to focus on both ends of the floor, there aren't many small forwards you'd take over him. And yet, the casual fan who mostly just tunes into nationally broadcasted games probably couldn't tell you who he is. Hence, his spot on the wing in our All-Underrated Team. For the latest Mikal Bridges rumors, click here.

Power Forward: Tobias Harris

Given that he's now playing his most natural position of power forward 90 percent of the time he's on the floor while seeing action as a small forward for zero minutes this season (that figure comes courtesy of Basketball-Reference), it should come as no surprise that Tobias Harris is currently enjoying his best campaign as a professional. Not only is Harris averaging a career-high 20.5 points per game while chipping in 7.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 0.9 steals and 0.9 blocks nightly, his BPM and WS/48 marks are also the best of his career at 4.1 and 0.183 respectively, figures that place him in the Top 25 of the NBA on the season. And yet Harris wasn't even given an All-Star nomination this year despite playing in the weaker Eastern Conference, proving that his contributions to the East-leading Philadelphia 76ers have been completely underrated on the campaign. No matter, as both Harris and Philadelphia probably care more about postseason success this year than individual awards, and considering how effective he's been as a floor-spacing, face-up 4 next to Joel Embiid and setting screens/cutting for Ben Simmons, postseasons success could be right around the corner for Harris and the Sixers. For the latest Tobias Harris rumors, click here.

Center: Clint Capela

It was a razor-tight decision here between Clint Capela and a player coming up in our bench section, but we decided to go with Capela thanks to the outrageous numbers he's been posting this season, as well as his huge impact on both ends of the floor. For proof of how great Capela has been for the Atlanta Hawks this season, look no further: https://twitter.com/hoopshype/status/1379122662404980737 According to WS/48, which, in fairness, tends to favor the production of ultra-efficient big men who don't space the floor, Capela has been a Top 10 player this season with a 0.211 mark. The other advanced metrics, VORP and BPM, have him in the Top-36 range league-wide, still very solid for a player who isn't considered a star. Capela's mobility for a center, in particular, as well as his quick jumping ability, make him a special big man, as not only is he blocking 2.2 shots per game (the third-best mark in the NBA), he also grades out as an excellent transition scorer, per Synergy, as well as a very good pick-and-roll roll man. In all, Capela's growth this season has been huge in Atlanta's resurgent campaign, one that has them fourth in the East with a 30-26 record. Considering Capela doesn't even have 90,000 followers on Twitter, despite being an above-average starter on various good teams for years now, there's no doubting his status as an underrated player. For the latest Clint Capela rumors, click here.

Bench: Guards

For the guard rotation off the bench on our All-Underrated squad, we went with four players: Malcolm Brogdon (Indiana Pacers), TJ McConnell (Indiana), Matisse Thybulle (Philadelphia) and Joe Ingles (Utah Jazz). It may seem unfair that the Indiana Pacers got two guards on this list considering they've been a bit disappointing this season with their 26-29 record, but Brogdon and McConnell have both been great on the year with little fanfare to show for it. Brogdon is putting up over 21 points and six assists nightly while shooting 40-plus percent from three while McConnell has been beastly in his role off the bench, averaging 6.5 assists and 1.7 steals nightly in under 26 minutes of action per contest. Ingles, meanwhile, leads the league in three-point percentage (48.7 percent) as well as in effective field-goal percentage (69.4 percent), an outrageous feat considering 71.0 percent of his shot attempts come from beyond the arc. And Thybulle, like McConnell, has been a monstrous defender in his smaller role for the Sixers, averaging 1.5 steals per game despite playing fewer than 20 minutes nightly.

Bench: Forwards

As far as reserve All-Underrated wings, we had another four guys come to mind, again two of who came from the same team: Brandon Clarke (Memphis Grizzlies), Kyle Anderson (Memphis), Jae Crowder (Phoenix) and Thaddeus Young (Chicago Bulls). According to BPM and WS/48, Clarke, averaging 11.2 points and 5.6 rebounds this season, has been around a Top-60 player in the league this year, while his teammate Anderson has been right around the same range, with his BPM actually putting him in 33rd spot league-wide. The pair of two-way wings have been extremely reliable for the Grizzlies all year long, and without them, Memphis wouldn't be in the playoff position they're in now. Crowder, meanwhile, has added toughness as well as floor spacing as a 3/4 for the Suns and been another important piece to their massive resurgence this season. And the annually underrated Young has given the Bulls solid face-up and around-the-basket scoring, as well as defensive versatility that is not easy to find for players who can man either forward spot.

Bench: Centers

The toughest choice for our starting five here was between Capela and Jonas Valanciunas, who actually grade out quite similarly as far as advanced stats are concerned. Regardless, Valanciunas has been a borderline elite center all season long for Memphis, averaging 17.0 points and 12.8 rebounds while shooting 57.5 percent from the floor. His tenacity on the glass and bruising shoulders/elbows have made him an absolute force down low in 2020-21 for the Grizzlies. And finally, our third center on the team will be Richaun Holmes, who actually recently talked to our friends at Basketball News about the fact that he feels he's underrated:

Do you think your name should get mentioned more when people are discussing the best two-way centers in the NBA? Do you feel like you’re underrated? Holmes: “I feel like my name has always been one that kind of flies under the radar. It’s always kind of an afterthought and things of that sort. I just want to continue to prove and continue to show [my value] on the floor, and let my talking get done on the floor. I just want to show the type of player that I am, just show that I’m one of the best two-way players, just show that I’m deserving of the All-Defensive Team and just continue to show [what I can do]. I want to continue to get better on the floor and just let my numbers and things of that sort prove my case.”

We agree with that assessment; the 14.1-point, 8.9-rebound, 1.6-block-per-game big man is definitely slept on nationally.

1

1