Chicago, San Antonio feature ‘the most underrated role players’ in the NBA

taj_gibson Jeremy Lin, Jeff Foster, Tracy McGrady…

 The names on the list runs long when it comes to debating “The Most Underrated Role Players” in the NBA these days and certainly a case  can be made for the likes of Lin, Foster and McGrady this season, but let’s open the discussion up a little bit as Darryl Howerton breaks  down his Top 15  “MURP’s” for HOOP Magazine.

 Two of the premiere teams in the NBA – the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs – each have three players on this list which says a lot  about their overall success this season thanks to some unsung heroes.

 With a little assistance from Jeremias Engelmann’s RAPM stats and John Hollinger’s Player Efficiency Ratings, Howerton details his criteria as  a player “who has not averaged 24.0 minutes per game in either of the last two seasons”. It’s a pretty spot on assessment of what’s going  on around the league too. It’s a telling tale of how this season is being played out and dominated not only by superstars, but also those  players who maximize the most out of their minutes played.

Take San Antonio for example.

Three members of the Spurs make the Top 15 list with Matt Bonner, Danny Green and Tiago Splitter all helping people forget Manu Ginobilli is on the shelf with a broken hand with San Antonio owning the second-best record in the Western Conference at 18-9.

Just more proof that San Antonio’s bench is keeping them alive when Tony Parker isn’t busy busting out 42-point and 37-point performances. Even Parker admits he loves to run the pick and roll with Splitter who delivered off the bench again in San Antonio’s 100-90 win over Philadelphia on Wednesday.

“His basketball IQ is off the charts,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said of Splitter.

His final stat line: 15 points in 17 minutes on 7-10 from the field.


The same can be said about the Bulls. The reason Chicago boasts the second-best record in the NBA goes beyond another all-star season from Derrick Rose. Look at what C.J. Watson, Taj Gibson, Kyle Korver are putting together this season. Of course Rose and Luol Deng garnish the majority of the headlines, but if both Rose and Deng continue to battle injuries, the trio of Watson, Gibson and Korver will have even more of a load to carry in Chicago.

On Wednesday night against the New Orleans Hornets, Gibson’s game showed why he should be considered one of the most underrated role players in the NBA. Gibson was 7-for-12 from the floor scoring 14 points and picking up six rebounds in less than 20 minutes in the Bulls’ 90-67 trouncing of the Hornets.

Jeremy Lin may be captivating New York and the league with “Linsanity”, but when it comes to the most underrated role player’s in the league there is one more category to consider: overall wins and losses.

As Watson, Gibson and Korver are showing in Chicago, and Bonner, Green and Splitter are proving in San Antonio, those numbers aren’t underrated at all.