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Everyone knows these actors. A player who doesn’t necessarily get all the rewards, but clearly has the talent. Someone who doesn’t necessarily have to score a goal to make an impact. A player that opponents hate to play against because they know he will struggle on both ends of the field. Usually such a player is not as recognized as a superstar, but he is still necessary for the team to play at the highest level. There are players who do a lot of things that don’t show up in the stats.

There are players in the league who are worth far more than their boxing act. Their impact on the field is huge, even without pure numbers. Players are good at a lot of things: They are players who know how to do the dirty work on the field. Here are the best players whose value is not evident from their stats.

5. Mikal Bridges

via USA Monday Sports

Mikal Bridges has been one of the Phoenix Suns’ revelations this season, playing a big role in their 7-4 start to the season in the Western Conference. Mikal Bridges is a three-dimensional wing prototype, with some points in the future. With 5.8 attempts per game, he is currently shooting at 45.3% from 3-point range – a maximum mark for a player on the wing. Mikal Bridges is also the Phoenix Suns’ second top scorer with a 15.1 PPG average. His defense is elite for the position on the wing and he has the athletic ability to follow elite markers on the wing.

Mikal Bridges proved to be a reliable cog alongside Chris Paul and Devin Booker. He sneaks well behind two guards and is able to hit shots when Devin Booker gets double-teamed. The development of the rebound has been the key to its success. Last year he hit just 2.7 3PT shots per game or 36.1% of those shots. He more than doubled his shooting attempts from beyond the arc and improved his efficiency. Ground clearance is important when playing alongside stars and a big man like Deandre Ayton : That’s why Bridges is worth more than his net score.

4. Jrue Holiday

via Sky Sports

Jrue Holiday has been one of the most underrated players in the league during his career. Jrue Holiday is one of the best defenders in the league who can also score. Holiday can defend against any player in the league and has even defended some big men. If his score has gone from 19.1 PPG to 15.2 PPG, it can be attributed to the fact that he shares the field with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Chris Middleton, the two bigs.

Jrue Holiday is just a unique selection of stars, but that doesn’t reflect its full value. Holiday is a guard who can do anything on the basketball court, and his perimeter defense has been recognized by many of his opponents. For the Milwaukee Bucks, Holiday added an extra dimension to their game on both ends: He’s a top performer in end-of-game situations and can clutch at either end in the fourth quarter. The post-season is the time when the impact of the holiday will be most valuable.

3. Marcus Smart

(via Basketball Forever)

Marcus Smart is a guard with DPD protection. Intelligence is a real scourge on the defensive side: He is fast enough to follow players around the perimeter and has active hands that often cause reversals in his opponent. Marcus Smart has a huge defensive IQ and rarely misses a turn. Smart also has more modest, but equally important, skills to play defensively: He can intercept attacks and hit the station. Marcus Smart’s value lies in his ability to switch to bigger players and his ability to provide stifling defense against the guards.

Offensively, everyone knows that Marcus Smart is not a great scorer. But he is a solid 3PT shooter, shooting 36.8% on 5.7 attempts per game. Smart has also proven to be a playmaker for the Celtics, averaging 6.0 APG in his career during the 2020-21 season. While Marcus Smart’s stats and efficiency on 3PT moves are not surprising, he remains a prime complementary player for any opponent. A 3 and D defender who also knows how to pass the ball is the ideal type of player alongside the stars of the game, making Marcus Smart one of the Celtics’ most valuable players.

2. Draymond Green

(via sports broadcasts)

Draymond Green is definitely a player whose offensive impact you don’t understand unless you watch the Warriors play. The Warriors’ offense is better with Draymond Green, and that’s mostly due to his playmaking ability and basketball IQ. Green taps knives like Kelly Oubre Jr. and Andrew Wiggins: His vision allows him to position the wings for easy shots at the rim. Green’s stats are not those of a star, but he has led the Warriors in APG the past two seasons. The Warriors won 6-6 in a tough Western Conference, with wins over good teams like the Los Angeles Clippers. There’s a string of easier games coming up, but the Warriors held their own early in the season thanks to the influence of Draymond Green.

Draymond Green is also a former DPD known as a small forward who can protect the bigger players. Draymond Green’s ability to trade was a big factor in the success of the dynastic Golden State Warriors. He could also free up space, although he will only shoot at 20.0% of the 3PT range in 2021. A more accurate representation would be his career 3PT percentage, which is 31.8%. Green is not a sharpshooter, but he shoots to keep defenses honest. Draymond Green’s impact has to do with his defense and play, not his marking, which is why he is extremely underrated.

1. Jimmy Butler

(via All U Can Heat)

If you look at Jimmy Butler’s stats for the 2020-21 season, you wouldn’t call him a star, as he averages 15.8 PPG, 5.3 APG and 5.5 RPG. Butler’s scoring has deteriorated since last season, but he remains a prime two-way star. Just last season, he was the captain of a Miami Heat team that made it to the NBA Finals. Butler won in the playoffs and proved he was a superstar who could lead a team well into the postseason. His stats do not reflect the leadership and mentality he brings to the team.

Jimmy Butler’s drop in scoring can be attributed to the fact that the Miami Heat’s young players were increasing their own goals: Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson and Bam Adebayo are all in the middle of their careers at PPG. Jimmy Butler is the kind of player who will do anything to win: He clearly sees the benefit for the other players on the team to play a larger role in the offense. Jimmy Butler is a superstar who can play in a system and culture like that of the Miami Heat: His ability to self-sacrifice is key to this team’s success. Jimmy Butler’s job is to take charge of situations at the end of the game, and that’s exactly what he did in the 2020 NBA Bubble.

 

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