The NBA revolves around superstars. Damian Lillard for the Portland Trail Blazers, LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers, Kevin Durant (for now) of the Brooklyn Nets...nobody has to say these names twice. Everyone who has encountered NBA basketball even mildly knows who they are, what they can do, and the impact they’ve had on the league.
If you multiply 450 players times the number of years you’ve been following the NBA, however, you’re going to come up with a number of players far bigger than the superstar roll can account for. Whether you follow the league or an individual team, part of the joy of fandom is discovering those “diamond in the rough” players who come along unexpectedly, delivering more talent than you would have forecast on name value alone.
Trail Blazers wing Josh Hart gave an example this week, tweeting about veteran journeyman Michael Beasley, who—despite being selected second overall in the 2008 NBA Draft—owns a 12.4 ppg career average after a 10-year-run with 7 NBA teams, but remains unsigned at this point. Of Beasley, Hart said:
Someone needs to sign this man asap. Most talented hooper I’ve seen.
That’s incredibly high praise for a player who topped 15 per game only once in his career. But that’s the way it works sometimes.
Our question for you this weekend is simple. Who’s the best unexpected, or “diamond in the rough” player you’ve ever seen. You can limit the discussion to Trail Blazers history if you wish, or open it up to the whole NBA. If you could pick a talented, valuable player that you’re relatively sure most people in the room have forgotten, who would your choice be?
Share candidates and stories in the comment section below!