The NBA regular season is rapidly coming to an end, and the playoffs are less than a month away. With the season coming to an end that means the yearly awards are about to be handed out. The star players will get their recognition and rightfully so, but I wanted to shed light on the five most underrated players in the NBA. Here is the list and why these players deserve more recognition.
1. Tyus Jones, PG, Minnesota Timberwolves
In his third season, Tyus Jones has been solid as a rock backing up Jeff Teague for the Wolves. The numbers won’t jump out at you, he only averages five points and 2.5 assists per game, but Jones has real value. He always makes the right play, rarely runs it over and is efficient. His true shooting percentage of 57 percent proves that. Jones primary value is on defense. He is second overall amongst all point guards in defensive RPM according to ESPN, and he is fifth overall in RPM. When Teague went down with an injury this year, Jones showed he could hold down the fort by going 6-4 in ten games started. He can play on or off the ball, guard multiple positions, shoots a high percentage and doesn’t turn it over. There is immense value in that, and you won’t see it in the box score.
2. Gary Harris, SG, Denver Nuggets
Harris has been a stud this year. He has established himself as the Nuggets second best player behind Nikola Jokic. This season Harris averaged 17.7 points on 48 percent shooting and 39 percent shooting from three. He has quietly become one of the best shooters in the game. The best part about Harris is that he is a true two-way player, rating out positively on both ends. He is fourth among all shooting guards in RPM. Harris also is averaging three assists per game this season and showing more passing savvy this season. Denver is in jeopardy of missing the playoffs, and a big reason is Harris’s recent knee injury. They need him back to save the season, they have badly missed him. Harris is one of the best shooting guards in the league.
3. Robert Covington, SF, Philadelphia 76ers
Covington was with the Sixers during the worst of times, and now he is finally going to the playoffs. He got his extension, and he deserves it. Covington has been a boss this season. This season he is shooting a career-best 41 percent from the field, 37 percent from three and 84 percent from the line. He has become more efficient across the board with a career-best true shooting percentage, assist ratio, and turnover ratio. His efficient offense has caught up with his tremendous defense, which makes him one of the best two-way players in the NBA. Covington leads all small forwards in defensive RPM and is second overall. He is an elite defender and has a chance to win defensive player of the year. That would get him some more notice. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons will get all of the publicity, but Covington has been huge for the Sixers this season.
4. Dwight Powell, PF/C, Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks are bad, so not a lot of people know about Dwight Powell, but he has been excellent this season. Powell is averaging a career-high 8.5 points and 5.6 rebounds this year on an incredible 61 percent shooting. He has an elite athlete, who can dunk anything near him. Powell has even started to add a three-ball this season, shooting 33 percent. Adding that has helped him post an elite 66 percent true shooting percentage. He has rounded out his game as well by becoming a better passer with a 12.9 assist ratio. Powell is eight among all centers in RPM and rates positively on both ends of the court. He can play both frontcourt spots, guard multiple positions and shoots an extremely high percentage. What else do you want?
5. Montrezl Harrell, PF/C, Los Angeles Clippers
Harell was considered a throw-in in the Chris Paul trade, but now he has a real role and is producing. Like Powell, he can play both frontcourt spots and plays with tremendous energy. He is averaging a career-high 10.4 points and four rebound per game on a ridiculous 63 percent shooting from the field. Also like Powell, he is looking to dunk everything. His efficiency is incredible with a 66 true shooting percentage and 24.51 player efficiency rating. Harell is 24th among all power forwards, which is impressive when you consider he only plays 16 minutes per game. He also rates positively on both ends. Harell will continue to have a more significant role down the stretch and expect his numbers to keep going up.