Meaningful goals and obstacles are crucial to the success of professionals. Maintaining personal levels of success by pursuing wealth or self-valued “worth” are excellent ways for people to better themselves.
But athletes are different. Bettering yourself is essential to the success of the team, but the term “bettering” is so vague in the basketball sense that you can’t really pin it down as an exact improvement to the team’s well-being. Nearly forgotten in “self-improvement” are the murky waters of how it is helping the team.
The balance of team success and individual success is more complex than just saying that there has to be a proper balance between the two. The self-awareness of a role, team concept, strength of play, and surrounding teammates are all factors in the effectiveness of a player.
The large introduction is to give some semblance to the notion that the best players are elected to the All-Star Game, and that all others just aren’t worthy. All-Star votes are fluky and I’ll prove these players that have failed to make the All-Star team are subjects to lack of luck, injury, youth, or just a logjam at a position. They may have failed to get the recognition they deserved, but we’ll make sure they get noticed here.
Here are the rules:
1. They have never been elected to an All-Star Game
2. They are currently playing
3. Have to have played more than 150 games in career
As we’ve pointed out in the past, Cousins is a much better player than he’s given credit for. If he can clean up his shooting numbers and stop the immaturity, he could develop into one of the two of three best big men in the NBA. It’s just that Sacramento has been so bad during his time there that he’s never even been considered for the All-Star Game. As long as the team, which looks to be going in circles right now, continues to lose, DMC will never get a fair shot at the midseason classic… even if he’s probably as talented as anyone on this list.
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5. AL JEFFERSON
The big man cashed in this offseason by earning a three-year, $41 million contract with the Charlotte Bobcats. Jefferson was able to earn the contract due to his offensive skill and ability to post consistent double-doubles.
Jefferson has moved around quite a bit since being drafted by the Boston Celtics out of high school. He was part of the package that brought Kevin Garnett to the Celtics and immediately signed a five-year, $65 million deal with the Timberwolves.
His ability to bully opponents in the paint allows him to get easy points at the basket. Being able to post up gives Jefferson the ability to step back and take a jumper. He shot 41 percent on jump shots past 10 feet last season, which are numbers similar to Pau Gasol during the 2011-12 season.
So what makes Jefferson deserving? Well, his offensive and rebounding numbers are superb and can be considered underrated among some of the league’s elite. Jefferson was an explosive, young talent when he originally signed that contract in Minnesota before the 2007-08 season. In his first season and a half he averaged over 22 points and 11 rebounds, 3.6 of which were offensive. Jefferson was one of four big men at the time to average 20 and 10, quite an accomplishment for a 23-year old.
The problem with Jefferson wouldn’t be diminished skill, it would be injury. He suffered an ACL tear during the 2008-09 season, which kept him out of the final 32 games. The next season would be his last in Minnesota, a season in which he averaged 17.1 points and 9.3 rebounds.
During his tenure in Utah, Jefferson missed only three games and averaged 18.5 points and 9.5 rebounds. He was a reliable scoring option and was the best player in every season, helping the Jazz make the playoffs during the 2011-12 season.