The NBA’s 20 Best Role Players

09.20.13 4 years ago
Andrei Kirilenko

Andrei Kirilenko

The NBA is a league dominated by stars. However, some of the most important guys are the secondary players, the ones who do the little things that help their team win. Most of the guys on this list are limited in some areas – and that is why they are role players. There are no scoring title winners or All-NBA players on this list – just guys who have a well-defined role who put the success of the team far above their own.

Nick Collison has embraced his role with the Thunder and has become well-known for doing anything his team needs to get a W.

“The guys who have success in the league and stick around are the ones who understand how to make themselves valuable to an organization,” he wrote in a guest blog for GQ. “You do this by embracing your role and focusing on things other than scoring… You create value for yourself by doing enough positive things to make your coach keep you on the floor… If you can become really good at things like screening, passing, defending pick and rolls, communicating, boxing out and rotating defensively, you can have a huge effect on your team winning a game.”

Every coach would love to have five Nick Collisons on the floor all game if they could. The guy dives for every loose ball, steps in for big charges, and works his ass off on the boards. He has a solid jumper and can finish around the basket as well, but he is not always asked to do those things with all of the offensive weapons the Thunder has. The Kansas standout is more often than not just asked to set screens and move the ball to find Westbrook or Durant. When you’re talking about a role player, he’s the definition.

Sure there will be some guys on this list who can put the ball in the cup – that is their role for their team – but most of these guys have found where they can add the most value to their team doing things other than scoring. This isn’t a list for the guys with the most talent or the best numbers, but rather the guys who are the best at filling a particular role for their team.

Without further ado, here are Nick Collison and the other 20 best role players in the NBA.

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The Snipers

Novak is perhaps best known for his celebrations (the Aaron Rodgers discount double-check) and being Jeremy Lin‘s best friend during the Linsanity run, but he has been a very solid player off the bench the last few years for the Knickerbockers. Novakaine couldn’t cover a chair but he can stretch the floor with the best of them – leading the league in 2011-12 shooting over 47 percent from deep. Novak’s job is simply to rise and fire and will look to continue to do the same with the Raptors this year.

More or less the entire Spurs roster could be on this list. Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford have been wizards building the roster using spare parts from other teams and the bottom of the draft. The Spurs picked up Bonner after the 2005-06 season and he has been stretching the floor brilliantly for them ever since. The Red Mamba led the league in three-point shooting in 2010-11 making almost 46 percent of his treys and has consistently been over 42 percent for each of the past three years. Bonner’s form isn’t the prettiest but he can sure stroke it.

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