Five NBA Players Who Deserve More Respect for their Talent: Damian Lillard, Devin Booker & Others

Published 02/24/2021, 5:30 PM EST
Jan 24, 2021; Portland, Oregon, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) shoots over New York Knicks guard Elfrid Payton (6) and guard Alec Burks (18) during the first quarter at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports


There are several NBA players who are certified superstars. They enjoy maximum media attention, and fans go crazy about these athletes. This is one end of the spectrum, and on the other end are equally talented players who largely don’t get the respect they deserve. 

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There is also a common term for this as they’re called ‘underrated players.’ A sudden name that comes to mind is Tim Duncan. The San Antonio Spurs icon was one of the best in the business during his heyday but didn’t get the recognition he deserved. Which players are suffering the same in the modern era? 

Five NBA players who are underappreciated despite their glowing talent

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5. Julius Randle

Julius Randle currently stands as a favorite to win the NBA MIP award in 2021. The six-foot-eight forward has been carrying the New York Knicks on his back ever since the start of the season. 

Randle leads the Knicks in all major statistical categories (points, rebounds, and assists), which is a commendable feat for any player belonging to any team. He’s been New York’s only glimmer of hope this season and is sustaining them in a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. 

Randle deserves more respect than he gets purely based on the fact that he’s having a breakthrough season. When the leap in his scoring initially started this season, there were trolls that it would be short-lived, but the 26-year-old is still going strong and has made a mark with his performance.

4. Nikola Vucevic

Nikola Vucevic’s name hardly comes up during a discussion about the best international players in the NBA. However, the Swiss big-man has been making a case for himself over the past few years with vital contributions. 

The Eastern conference coaches acknowledged Vucevic’s contributions this season and picked him as a reserve for the 2021 All-Star game. While they are right to do that, the fans aren’t quite hyped about player of Vucevic’s quality.

The six-foot-eleven big man has seven 30 point games this season and has been carrying the Orlando Magic in the absence of Aaron Gordon. Vucevic is currently averaging 23.9 points this season, which is the third-best among a center in the league.

3. Zach LaVine

Zach LaVine has been simply sensational this season. For a player who has been averaging more than 23 points for the last two seasons, it is unacceptable that Zach LaVine is earning his first All-Star selection only in 2021. 

LaVine has been the flagbearer of the Chicago Bulls ever since his arrival in 2017, and he’s received minimal support from his Bulls teammates during big games. To put it plainly, LaVine doesn’t have a world-class teammate who can perform at the same level as him.

The Bulls forward is shattering franchise records this season and has been outstanding offensively. It is just disheartening to see LaVine not getting the ample recognition he deserves despite averaging 28/5/5 this season.

2. Devin Booker

Devin Booker surely has to be the most disrespected player in the league. A player of his caliber missing the All-Star selection? How cruel is that? That’s just what the Phoenix Suns guard has been experiencing lately. 

Booker is regarded as a quality player but is often overlooked as one of the top guards in the entire association, and that’s a fact! The 24-year-old is posting 24.7 points on an average this season and efficiently shoots 50.1% of the field goals that he’s attempting. 

Booker not making the All-Star cut has everyone reeling, but he still has a chance to just sneak in as a reserve. However, him not making the selection in the first place has players like LeBron James furious with the voting system.

1. Damian Lillard

Damian Lillard has established himself as a superstar but lacks the absolute praise that he should get. Lillard is currently the best clutch time shooter in the NBA. Period. The stats back it up as well, and Lillard also has a case to be named as one of the Top 3 point guards in the league.

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His shooting is just so smooth, and Lillard has just stepped up his game even more due to teammate CJ McCollum’s injury. It is just unbelievable that Damian Lillard isn’t an All-Star starter this year despite ranking as the league’s third-best scorer in the NBA. 

Even Luka Doncic, the player who was voted ahead of Lillard, agrees that the latter deserves the place. Hence, it proves that Dame Lillard just isn’t viewed as one of the top players in the NBA when he’s proving it time and time again! 

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Arjun Athreya

1847 articles

Arjun Athreya is a senior writer at Essentially Sports and has been contributing since early 2020. Having developed an avid interest in sports at an early age, he pursued a Journalism degree and graduated from Madras Christian College. Arjun manages the Golf division and its content, and primarily covers news pertaining to the NBA as well.

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