The NBA is full of players whose play begs for more minutes. Here are my top five.
1. Larry Sanders – Gumby is averaging over 3 blocks a game despite playing less than 25 minutes per game. He shoots 54% (mostly dunks) and pulls down 8.6 boards a game. His per-36 numbers are astounding, where he averages a combined 5.8 blocks+steals a game. On Thursday against Phoenix, Sanders poured in 19 pts and collected 15 rebounds against the Polish Hammer, who finished with 10pts and 5rbs. Hopefully Skiles’ replacement Jim Boylan gets this kid on the court. He will need to if they want any shot at the playoffs.
2. Andre Drummond – Okay it’s time to take the training wheels off. Drummond has played superbly thus far in his rookie season. This guy was inexplicably drafted after Terrence Ross at ninth overall. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some YouTube clips of T-Ross dunking but Drummond was and still is clearly the better pick. Drummond’s defensive rebounding and shot blocking make him a perfect fit in the Pistons frontcourt alongside offensively-oriented super skilled big man Greg Monroe, who is a better fit at power forward than center anyways. It’s disgusting seeing Charlie Villanueva and Jason Maxiell soaking up Drummond’s minutes and ultimately slowing his development, especially when AD is already averaging more PTS, RBS, STL, and BLKs per 36 minutes than Dwight Howard did in his rookie season. Detroit needs to get Knight, Monroe, and Drummond playing big minutes together ASAP.
3. Eric Bledsoe – I’m not sure if Eric Bledsoe should play more for the Clippers because they are dominant with the rotation as is, but on any other team he’d surely be averaging over 19 minutes per game. I used to see Bledsoe as no more than a rotation guy, a player who can spell the point guard in spurts without completely being overmatched by the opposing teams’ starter—think Maynor or Cole. What separates him from those guys is his big play potential. Bledsoe’s teammates call him mini-LeBron and for good reason. He, like James, makes chasedown blocks, finishes plays with ferocious dunks, and can swing the momentum of a ballgame. He appears to be a willing learner because the camera always shows him talking with CP3 and Chauncey Billups during time-outs. The talent is there and I’m excited to see the player EB12 will become.
4. Javale McGee – Javale McGee is such a bad decision-maker that it is only fitting he spent his first three and a half seasons in Washington, where bringing guns into your locker room seems like a good idea. Despite a career full of embarrassment, McGee has found a home in Denver. He has become an efficient player for the Nuggets and every once in awhile he makes a move that keeps us all saying things like “he has loads of potential” and “well once he develops then he will be dominant” but the truth is he is who he is. A good player, effective at his strengths (shot blocking, dunking) and awful at his weaknesses (passing, defensive rotations). While he will never be the star some people, mainly Nuggets fans, think he will be, he is noticeably better than Kosta Koufos and I expect him to be the fourth quarter center for the Nuggets in the playoffs.
5. Jose Calderon – Or maybe Kyle Lowry? Both are starting caliber point guards. Kyle Lowry brings excitement, flair, and serious skill to the table. Lowry is also 5 years younger than Calderon. It isn’t like Jose is a dinosaur though, he’s just 31 and has never been a player who depended on athleticism for success. The reason Kyle Lowry has had a hard time finding his way back into the rotation has nothing to do with his own play and everything to do with Calderon’s Chris Paul-like efficiency. In my opinion, there is no better way to develop players than by having a pass first point guard as their leader. Lowry is a plus passer, but is more of a scoring guard who can pass. Toronto has loaded up a roster of young athletic dudes who struggle creating their own shot but can score off nice passes in transition. Calderon is a good fit for this team and regardless of Lowry, he should be starting and playing more than 29 minutes per game.
Five more deserving players:
– Taj Gibson
– Linas Kleiza
– Pablo Prigioni
– Brandan Wright
– Andray Blatche
By Cole Krueger