Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Underrated Impact Players- NBA West

Houston Rockets: C Dikembe Mutombo could easily be the underrated hero on this squad, but when G Bobby Sura is healthy he has provided energy, efficient scoring, and underrated point-guard play as a natural 2-man. He averaged 10 pts, 5.5 rebounds, & 5.2 assists per contest this season, and ever since adding him to the team late last year, it's no secret that Houston is a much better team with him in the starting lineup than not (their 0-4 record this year when he sits out or does not start is a short glimpse of just that).
Dallas Mavericks: So he had a sub-par regular season (9.2 pts, 8.5 boards), but C Erick Dampier is the best defender on the Mavs, and we all know how much D is played in Big D. Dallas needs him rather than Dirk Nowitzki to guard big guys like Tim Duncan, Yao Ming, and Amare Stoudamire. Anything he contributes on offense is a plus but definitely not needed.
Denver Nuggets: If Denver has any hopes of advancing, C Marcus Camby will need to play like he did in their Game 1 win against San Antonio (Camby had 12 pts, 12 boards, & 4 blocks, and played more minutes- 40- than any other Nugget). Why Camby? Although Kenyon Martin is a great defender, the All-Star big guys in the West can shoot over or around K-Mart, and Camby excels at weak-side defense, soaring in with his Stretch-Armstrong wingspan to block shots and rebound.
San Antonio Spurs: Tony Park, Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginobili will be consistent contributors on both ends, and Bruce Bowen will have his man under wraps, so the real X-factor for the Spurs is C Nazr Mohammed. He had a monster effort in Game 1, going for 15 & 15 with 4 blocks...plus nine (NINE!) of his boards were on the offensive end.
Sacramento Kings: Although he's not underrated, C Brad Miller is coming off of a long-term injury. Playing only 8 minutes in the Kings' Game 1 loss to Seattle, if he can return to form in a short amount of time, Sacramento is suddenly a serious contender as the 6th seed. Miller's 15.6 points and 9.3 rebounds combined with Peja, Cuttino Mobley, and Mike Bibby makes for a potent foursome.
Seattle Sonics: Their role players, people like Reggie Evans, Luke Ridnour, and Antonio Daniels are vital, it's true. But to take out shooters like Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis and put in as comparable of a stroke that you can get at this level in F Vladimir Radmanovic (39% from the arc) is something most other teams dont have. One of the two Sonics can stay fresh during games because Radmanovic can come in, knock down a few threes, grab a few boards, and give way to the starter one again. The other players are important too, but because Seattle lives and dies with Lewis and Allen, Radmanovic is the underrated guy who will make a noticeable impact.
Memphis Grizzlies: More people need to praise G Mike Miller. This guy is absolutely unconscious from downtown. Some people know this, but he still doesn't get all the credit he deserves. I can't understate the importance of a great shooter roaming the perimeter and the impact that has on the play of a team's big guys (in this case, Pau Gasol). Miller shot 43% from threes this year, and hit 5 of 7 in Game 1 against Phoenix. Look for him to continue is hot hand and be the one guy (if any) who can hit a shot to upset the Suns.
Phoenix Suns: The Suns thrive off their high-flying offense, propelled by the starters. Their bench is mediocre, so I had to pick somebody known but very underrated. Even though he is an All-Star, F Shawn Marion does it all for Phoenix and gets little credit because of Steve Nash, Amare Stoudamire, and the shooting of Quentin Richardson. Marion, a 6-7 small forward, was moved into the power forward. He never complained and actually had his most successful season yet- 19.4 pts, 11.3 boards (again I'll say it- 6-7 small forward). Marion is the least-hyped lately and deserves to regain more credit, because it is certainly due.


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