Not everyone can average 40 points a game, but there are many NBA players who are contributing to their team’s success in a big way, albeit under the radar. Whether they’re considered past their prime, bogged down by low expectations, or not flashy enough, these are the five underrated players who have stood out the most during the first half of the 2019-20 season.
P.J. Tucker (Rockets)
P.J. Tucker may be lost in the shuffle in Houston as James Harden and Russell Westbrook continue to pile up points for the Rockets, but the 34-year-old veteran forward is playing a big part in Houston’s offense. Tucker is averaging a career-high 7.3 rebounds per game, which has allowed Harden and Westbrook to execute at a high level. Though Tucker is not going to stand out, his efforts have kept Houston in championship contention.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Thunder)
Oklahoma City was not expected to compete for anything meaningful this season, but the revamped Thunder have posted the NBA's best record since December thanks to the backcourt play of sophomore Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Coming as part of the trade that sent Paul George to the Clippers, Gilgeous-Alexander has emerged as a cornerstone for the team. If it wasn’t for the resurgence of Chris Paul, Gilgeous-Alexander would be the talk of the town.
Derrick Rose (Pistons)
While the Detroit Pistons are dealing with injuries and the possible departure of Andre Drummond, there’s no denying the resilience of Derrick Rose after many considered him a closed book. Rose has been productive for the floundering Pistons, posting 17.0 points per game along with 2.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists. Rose has become a journeyman of sorts, but he deserves serious credit for resurrecting his career in Motown.
Terry Rozier (Hornets)
Though the Charlotte Hornets’ best player right now is Devonte' Graham, there is a good chance Terry Rozier will hold that distinction by year’s end. Rozier has a strong stat-line of 18.0 points, 4.4 assists and 1.2 steals per game, and has been trending upward all season. It isn’t easy to step in the shoes once worn by Kemba Walker, but Rozier is coming into his own as a leader and playmaker.
Malcolm Brogdon (Pacers)
As the Indiana Pacers continue to defy expectations in the absence of Victor Oladipo, Malcolm Brogdon seems to have been lost in the shuffle. Brogdon is having his best season as a pro and is an integral piece of Indiana’s success, yet he’s nowhere to be found for All-Star consideration. Brogdon is 10th in the NBA with 7.4 assists per game to go along with a career high 17.7 points. Although he likely won't play in the league's mid-season classic, he should continue to thrive with the Pacers.