Missing the game more and more every day, we decided to take a look back at some of the more underappreciated players in NBA history. Most of these guys are players that were properly appreciated and respected during their careers, but most of these players either do not get talked about enough today or are misrepresented by younger or more casual fans.
Lanier was picked 1st overall by the Detroit Pistons in the 1970 draft. Even after having knee surgery in that summer, Lanier was named to the All-Rookie team after averaging 15.6 points, and 8.1 rebounds in just 24 minutes. After coming back with more strength in his knees and legs, Lanier went on to have a very strong stint with the Detroit Pistons. In 9 full seasons on the Pistons, he averaged 22.9ppg shooting over 50%, 11.9rpg, 3.3apg, 2bpg, and 1.2spg. He had 2 years where he averaged more than 14rpg and in his best scoring year, averaged 25.3ppg on 53% shooting. His production decreased when he went to Milwaukee but as his career went on, he remained a solid piece as he averaged 13.3ppg, 5.8rpg, and .8bpg. Although he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, the career 20 and 10 player never gets brought up by casual fans when talking about some of the best players of the 70s.
Many actually know the name Shawn Marion, but of those people, an overwhelming amount just associates him with his awkward and infamous shooting form. What they may not know or remember though, is that Marion, considered one of the most versatile players and even more so, one of the most versatile defenders of his time, made 4 All-Stars and made 2 All-NBA teams on his way to winning a ring with Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks. During his 16 year career, he averaged 15.2ppg, 8.7rpg, 1.5spg, and 1.1bpg. Marion was never the go-to guy on his team but always played a great second or third role. With the ability to guard 1-4, he was able to gain valuable minutes early on in his career and averaged 17.3ppg in his second year. For the next 5 years, he would average at least 19ppg and topped 20ppg twice over that span. During that span, he would also average more than 11rpg twice. Those prime years in Phoenix for him saw him as a constant 20 point 10 rebound guy all while averaging 2spg and 1.3bpg. With Steve Nash leading the way for his last 4 years in Phoenix, they became one of the most entertaining and ground-breaking offenses ever and made a few playoffs runs.
Clifford Robinson was also never the face of a franchise but he was more than just a role player. Over a 4 season span in the early 90s, Robinson averaged 20.4ppg and 6.2rpg for a Trailblazers team that was a constant Western Conference threat. He was awarded an All-Star appearance and as his 18-year career went on, he was able to redefine and adjust his role. Even as a 33-year-old, he was on the All-Defensive team, and made it again 2 years later when he was 35.
If you were to guess the top 10 scorers of the 2000s, Antawn Jamison probably would not have his name brought up. With some of the most iconic stars the league has ever seen, Jamison was constantly shadowed by Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, and Dirk Nowitzki at his position while fan favorites Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady, and Vince Carter were on highlights and marketing campaigns. Well, the former UNC Tarheel is actually in the top 10 with more points in that decade than Shaquille O’neal, the aforementioned Shawn Marion, Richard Hamilton, Rashard Lewis, LeBron James, and Steve Nash. During that decade, he averaged 20.4ppg and 8.1rpg. For someone who was one of the best scorers of the league not so long ago, his name never gets brought up when talking about professional scorers.
A part of the Run TMC crew in Golden State, Mitch Richmond was a member of the highest scoring trio in the NBA for the two years they all played together. A 6-time All-Star, Mitch Richmond was also a part of the Lakers team that won the championship in 2002. He was selected to 5 All-NBA teams and has his number 2 retired by the Sacramento Kings. But with guards like Kevin Johnson, John Stockton, and Michael Jordan in the era, Richmond gets overshadowed at times. Regardless, the Kings’ legend averaged 21ppg over his career and needs to be talked about more.
The 80s are headlined by Magic, Bird, and Isaiah Thomas. They are followed by scorers like Dominique Wilkins and Adrian Dantley. But who led the 80s in scoring? It was Nuggets legend Alex English. He averaged over 28ppg 3 times and his scoring prowess was acknowledged by fans and peers of his time as he was selected to 8 straight All-Star appearances at one point. He became the first player to score 2,500 or more points in 8 straight seasons and when he retired, he was 6th all-time in scoring. But fans of the younger generation who were not around to watch English play are often not aware of just how good he was.
Marques Johnson could be on here just for the impact he had on the game. He was the true originator of the term “point forward”. During his stint with the Bucks, he averaged 21ppg, over 7rpg, and just under 4apg. He did make 5 All-Star game appearances but much like other players on this list, his name is not brought up in today’s discussions of great players of the past.
More known for his intense defense, Sidney Moncrief was still an all-around threat on both sides of the ball and averaged over 20ppg four times. During that 4 year stretch, Moncrief also averaged 5.6rpg, 4.6apg, and 1.5spg. Throughout his career, Moncrief made 5 All-Star teams, 5 time All-NBA teams, and won a Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Bernard King has come up as a player different stars have looked up to. Carmelo Anthony has pointed to him as one of the players he has based his game off of on multiple occasions. And it is for a good reason. The 4-time All-Star averaged 32.9ppg in the 84-85 season and on 10 other occasions, averaged over 20ppg. With a career average of 22.5ppg on over 50% shooting, Bernard King was a natural-born scorer at the forward position.
Nicknamed the Human Highlight Reel, Wilkins if most often associated with the dunk contest. He had one of the most epic dunk contest showdowns with Michael Jordan and is known to have the most iconic windmill. But the nickname has had a somewhat negative impact on his reputation in a way. Dominique Wilkins was way more than just a dunker. He was an offensive force to be reckoned with and were it not for Jordan, he may have had the spotlight he should have garnered. The 9-time All-Star and 7 time All-NBA Team member averaged just under 25ppg for his career to go along with 6.7rpg. In his best seasons, he averaged 30.7, 30.3, 29.9, and 29.1ppg. This is a rare case of an already famous and recognized player still being underrated and misrepresented.