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Taking A Quick Look At Some Pretty Good Under The Radar Seasons This Year

Toronto Raptors v Washington Wizards

It’s not exactly news to hear that Lebron, Steph Curry, Durant, and James Harden are having awesome seasons. The league has never been deeper in terms of talent and the current playoff race in each conference shows us that. The other day while writing the daily Last Night In The NBA blog I had the thought to look into some guys that are having really good seasons that nobody really talks about. To do this I had one rule, you couldn’t have made the All Star team. There were exceptions to this, like for example everyone knows Jokic is a beast so he doesn’t really fit this idea. This is mostly around guys who may not be getting the national recognition, but are still having really solid seasons.

Jrue Holiday – 19.4/5.6/4.4 17.60 PER

I feel like when most people talk about the Pelicans, it revolves around Anthony Davis and Boogie Cousins (for good reason). Yet here Jrue Holiday is, having a career high in points, FG%, and rebounds. He’s gone on to have at least 30 points 7 times so far this season, more than double what he put in last year (3), and he’s taken his game to another level since the Boogie injury, bumping his scoring average up to 21 a night on 51.5% shooting.

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It seemed crazy when the Pelicans gave Holiday a 5/$131M deal, but unlike other guys who get paid and coast, Holiday has turned in a great season in the first year of his deal. He has the 14th highest salary in the NBA this season, and the production has absolutely backed up the price. There’s a reason the Pelicans have won 8 in a row and are currently a 4 seed, and the play of Jrue Holiday is a big part of that.

Buddy Hield – 12.7/3.7/1.6 15.13 PER

Buddy Hield is a weird prospect. He looked awful to start his career in NO, averaging just 8 points a night with 39/36% shooting. Then he was part of the Boogie deal and had an insane end to the 2017 season (25 games) where he averaged 15 points on 48/42% splits. So heading into this season I was curious which Buddy Hield we would get, and the answer is somewhere in the middle. His overall FG% is down slightly to 43%, but I’m buying into this Buddy Hield from deep. He’s making over 2 threes a night and shooting 42%, just like that small sample last year. That’s the same percentage as Steph Curry, better than Paul George and Eric Gordon, and right on the heels of guys like Durant. His overall PER is up around 4 points from his rookie year and he’s doing all this while only taking 11 shots a night. To be honest I don’t get why Hield only has 12 starts on the season, but with Garrett Temple opting to hit the market this summer, Hield is most likely the starting SG in SAC next year.

Tomas Satoransky – 6.6/2.6/3.4 15.88 PER

Don’t let that season stat line fool you. You want to look at a big reason why the Wizards did not collapse after the John Wall injury, look no further than the play of Tomas Satoransky. Quite simply, the kid can fucking play. This is the first time in what feels like forever that WSH has had a legit backup point guard. Since Wall went down on 1/25, Satoransky stepped in and has averaged 10.7/3.5/5.7 while shooting 58.4/56.8%. Look at those numbers again! On the season he’s shooting with 53/47% splits and considering he gave the Wizards absolutely nothing his rookie year last year, this is quite the improvement. His PER has nearly doubled now that he has actually gotten some minutes, and he’s absolutely making a case to stay in the rotation even once Wall comes back. He provides unique size for his position, and frankly I can’t get past how well he’s shooting the ball. This guy came out of nowhere.

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Khris Middleton – 19.8/5.1/4.0 – 16.70 PER

I debated whether or not Middleton fit this blog because to most who watch a lot of NBA, you know he’s a good player. But here’s the thing, he’s having a career year in points and rebounds while having the second highest PER of his career. If I were to ask you if you thought Khris Middleton was an All Star you’d probably laugh in my face. The truth is, his production is in the same area code of many that made the AS Game. What’s impressive about his season is he’s being used more than he ever has before in his career (23.5%), but he has a turnover% under 10% which is his lowest in the past three seasons.

Obviously when you talk Bucks, the conversation is mostly around Giannis, but Middleton has been every bit as impressive with about 5% of the publicity.

Gary Harris – 17.9/2.7/3.0 – 17.08 PER

It’s only a matter of time before Gary Harris truly becomes a household name. If I had to guess I’d say playing in DEN is probably why more people aren’t talking about him, but he’s having a great season for the 8th seed Nuggets. He’s been progressing exactly how you would hope your young first round pick would, getting better each year. He’s currently notching career highs in points, 3PM, assists, steals, and PER. He’s been a full time starter since his second year in the league, but he’s never had a complete season like he is having this year.

Next year is the start of his 4/84M extension, and if he keeps progressing like he has been, paying him between 16-20M a year is great value. It would not shock me to see Harris have some big time moments in a playoff series and officially blow up on the national level, the kid is that good.

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Kelly Olynyk – 10.9/5.4/2.4 – 16.54 PER

I’m including Kelly Olynyk in this blog mostly because he is one of the rare players that have left Brad Stevens and not lost all of their basketball powers. In fact, Olynyk this season has a career high in points, 3PM, rebounds, assists, and PER while taking relatively the same amount of shots as he did in BOS. To put it simply, he’s been really solid for a Heat team that has been better than expected this season, sitting currently in 7th. Olynyk has done a little bit of everything for MIA, including starting more games this year (22) than he did over last two seasons (14). This is another guy, like Jrue Holiday, that got paid and actually got better. I think we all sort of laughed when MIA gave him that 50M deal, but he has quietly gone about his business and been very effective.

Wayne Ellington – 11.0/3.0/1.0 – 12.48 PER

The same thing could be said for Olynyk’s teammate, Wayne Ellington. A journeyman for the majority of his career, this season has been a bit of a breakout year for Ellington. Career highs in points, 3PM, and true shooting%, he’s turned in one of the better shooting seasons in the league. He’s 9th in the NBA in 3PM per game which is wild, and he’s taking more threes than he ever has before in his career. He has at 14 games already this season with at least 5 3PM, which is a substantial improvement from last year where he had just 7.

He’s been one of the most consistent offensive threats for the MIA second unit, and he’s picking a good time to have his best season ever considering he hits UFA this summer.

Montrezl Harrell – 9.8/3.9/0.8 – 24.40 PER

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The Clippers may have found themselves something with Montrezl Harrell. One look at that PER and you see something that ranks 13th in the NBA. To go along with that he’s also having the best scoring year of his career, a career high in rebounds, and really came alive filling in for Blake when he was hurt and then again once he got traded. Since Feb 7th Harrell is averaging 14 points a night on a crazy 71%. He’s been a big part of why the Clippers still have playoff hopes and something tells me he’s about to cash in this summer as a RFA. Who couldn’t use a high energy, physical big man who’s just 24 and is showing to make this type of impact? I mean look at some of the names that are around him in PER this season: Damian Lillard, Hassan Whiteside, Andre Drummond, Enes Kanter, Jokic, Embiid, LMA, etc. That’s pretty elite company to be in and just goes to show you how well Harrell has been playing this year.

E’Twaun Moore – 12.3/2.7/2.1 – 11.72 PER

Another NO guard who’s having a very solid year with really no publicity is E’Twaun Moore. A career year, with highs in points, FG%, 3PM, minutes, rebounds, and steals, Moore has been awesome since he became a full time starter for NO. Perhaps he was playing out of position in his other stops, because NO uses him as a “SF” when really it’s a three guard lineup, but he’s flourished in that role. He’s reached at least 20 points a total of 8 times so far this season, after doing it just once in his first year with the Pelicans last year. Much like Holiday, maybe the Pelicans knew what they were doing when they signed him to a 4/34M deal last year, because paying him 8M a year for the next three years isn’t terrible if you’re going to be getting this sort of production out of him.

Bogdan Bogdanovic – 12.0/2.8/3.3 – 14.58 PER

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With other young talent on the roster like De’Aron Fox, Buddy Hield, and Willie Cauley-Stein, a guy like Bogdanovic can go under the radar. The fact is, he may be their best rookie and best young talent out of everyone. Granted he is a little older (25) and has professional experience already which probably helps, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s been really good for SAC despite their inability to win games.

He’s 7th among rookies in points per game while shooting 46%, which is better than every player who scores more than him other than Jayson Tatum and Ben Simmons. He also shoots 40% from deep which trails only Tatum in terms of rookies who actually play (min 40 games) and take at least 3.0 3PA. When we talk about ROY we mostly talk about Simmons/Mitchell/Tatum etc, and don’t really talk about Bogdanovic. I think that’s doing him a disservice because he’s been about as solid as you could want for a first year player.

These were just some of the first names that popped into my head, I’m sure there are other guys having good years that I’ve omitted. Do you have one that you’ve noticed has been playing really well that we don’t hear too much about? Tell me in the comments below!