NBA players who are underappreciated by younger fans.

If you are in your early twenties (like myself) or teens then your have more than likely never seen two of these players play. Unless, you’re really nerdy when it comes to basketball history and enjoy watching old games, reading countless articles/books and footage (also like myself). Well if you haven’t, then have no fear because that’s what I’m here for. The older players are guys that I feel that the younger generation should know more about while the one modern player listed is greatly underappreciated in my eyes.

Kevin Johnson

Here’s a guy that played in an era where point guards were the real deal in Western Conference and he did more than held his own. Those point gurads he were facing was an older Magic (still effective, obvious by his 1990 MVP), Gary Payton, John Stockton, and Tim Hardaway. KJ played from 1988 to 2000 and posted career averages of 17.9 points per game and 9.1 assists per game, numbers comparable to Isiah Thomas and Chris Paul. During his prime KJ was a lock for 20 points, 10 dimes, 2 steals, and a poster on a guy bigger than him each game at only 6'1.

Why isn’t he considered among the best point guards ever? First off, he was injury prone and had hamstring troubles so staying on the court was a problem for him. He played in 75 out of 82 games only four times out of a 12 year career. He also came up short on the biggest stage, the NBA Finals. During the 1993 NBA Finals the Suns were facing the Bulls and had home court advantage. KJ choked so bad in the first two games that not only the Bulls stole the first two games, he also was benched in crunch time towards the end of game 2 of the finals. Those are the two biggest reasons he’s penalized as a player. If KJ played today where the spacing is better and you aren’t dumping it into the post every possession like the era he played in, you could expect Westbrook-esque numbers. With the way he destroyed guys off the dribble and how easy it was for him to get into the paint back then with teams packing the paint (which is wide open in today’s game), he would be a monster today.

David Thompson

He was MJ and Kobe before MJ and Kobe. He was the same type of 2 guard as those two and was on his way to an incredible career. The problem is that he was out of the league before the age of 30 due to a coke problem and injuries he suffered. His first year in the NBA he averaged 25.9 points per game shooting 50% at age 22 and at age 23 averaged 27.2 per game on 52%. In 1978 on the final day of the season he scored 73. The man also had 53 in the first half that day. David “Skywalker” Thompson was so good that he bumped Dr. J and George Gervin to second team All-NBA in ’77 and Pete Maravich to the second team in ’78. That same year of 1978, at the age of 23, he leads Denver to the Western Conference finals and loses to Seattle. That Summer he would sign what would be the largest contract in pro sports at the time : five years $4 Million dollars. $800,000 dollars a year was a load of money in 1978. After that, everything went South. He became addicted to cocaine and in his last three seasons he averaged 15 points per game. His career ended at age 29 after an accident at a night club while under the influence. In the words of the great Rick James, cocaine is hell of a drug.

Tim Duncan

If you could mold literally the perfect big man to be your teammate, player that you’re coaching, or star of your favorite team who would you choose? Russel was flawed offensively, Wilt was a terrible teammate, Shaq didn’t take the game seriously, and Kareem and Hakeem; Well, you’ve got me there but you get my point. I was talking to a few buddies of mine and I asked them where they ranked The Big Fundamental on an all time list. One said, “I got him at 14”. The other friend answered, “He’s top twenty.” What really bothered me is that they both ranked Dirk in front of Tim Duncan. Tim Duncan is overlooked by people around my age and people younger because he wasn’t flashy and you didn’t see him in every commercial and he gets labeled as “boring” for those reasons.

Tim Duncan is a top 10 player of all time and the best player player of his generation. He’s better than KG and Kobe and I’m the biggest Kobe fan you can find. But, on an all-time list Timmy is ahead of Kobe. He’s got more MVPs, the same amount of titles, more finals MVPs, and was way more efficient. Duncan was a winner and was the most consistent player of his time that could also rise in the biggest moments (evident by his near quadruple-double in the clincher of the 2003 finals with a ridiculous 21 points, 20 rebounds, 10 assists, and 8 blocks). Throughout his whole career he was a lock for 23–12 along with 2.5–3 blocks. Only 4 players in NBA history have won over 70 percent of their games throughout a career and they’re Magic, Duncan, Bird, and Bill Russell. His impact on each game he played in can’t be judged by stats only. He’s one of only three big men of all time in my opinion that

  1. Was so good scoring down low that you had to send a double team.
  2. Was an elite passer (assists won’t honor this feat but he made the right play and always got hockey assists due to guys in San Antonio making the extra pass once they got it from him)
  3. Was an elite rim protector.

Those men were Bill Walton, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Tim Duncan. Tim Duncan is one of the top 7 players of all time in my eyes and you should be glad you got to witness such greatness because it shouldn’t be forgotten.

These three men that I have paid homage to are just a few of several guys that I could have said because truly there are plenty of underappreciated former NBA players. I hope that this piece has opened your eyes and you finished this with more knowledge than you came with.