Most Underrated NBA Players Going into the 2021-22 Season
The 2021-22 NBA season is closer than you think and many players are just scratching the surface of their NBA careers.
Several players strike fear into the hearts of opposing defenders due to their tenacious ability to play with confidence. Every season some players receive too much love and are perceived as overrated, but then there’s also a group of unheralded stars.
I already broke down the most overrated NBA players for 2021-22, and now it’s time for some of the overlooked players to get some attention.
With that, join me as I break down the most underrated NBA players for the 2021-22 season.
John Collins, F, Atlanta Hawks
This young Atlanta star is one of my favorite players to watch for the upcoming 2021-22 NBA season. Collins was a high-flying machine in the wide-open Atlanta offense.
The rest of the NBA will have to get used to him in this system, as he re-upped with the Hawks in free agency.
Having Trae Young as your point guard is never a bad thing, but Collins will continue to make hay as he develops his offensive game.
At Wake Forest, Collins was quicker than most defenders. His face-up game improved during his final collegiate season, and now he is filling it up on one of the most exciting offenses in the league.
His shots have decreased over the past few years. Role players are getting more open looks in the offense, but Trae Young is getting the lion’s share of touches. That will bring benefits for Collins. He will continue to get easy buckets in transition, and his explosiveness will lead the way.
At only 24 years of age entering the season, this should be his best one yet.
Mikal Bridges, G/F, Phoenix Suns
The former Villanova Wildcat was the lesser-known player on their 2017 championship team.
Phil Booth and Ryan Arcidiacono were stud guards in the tournament, and Kris Jenkins was the one that hit the buzzer-beater, but Mikal Bridges was the glue of the team.
He has Scottie Pippen-like length and can defend almost any player on the court. The NBA has gone to a position-less league, meaning you must defend multiple positions. A shooting guard back in the day would be average athletically and known for hitting open shots.
Nowadays, players can do it all, and that includes defending near the rim. Bridges is an exceptional defender that averaged a steal and block per game last season, and he started all 22 postseason games for Phoenix. The team needed his stellar play to lockdown on the best perimeter players in the league.
An exceptional defender with the size to score over defenders has enabled stars such as Devin Booker, Chris Paul, and DeAndre Ayton to feast on the opposition. Cam Johnson even received some love off the bench, and the play of Jae Crowder was exceptionally underrated as well.
Most die-hard fans are well aware of Crowder since he has been a solid role player for years, but Bridges continues to thrive on a franchise expected to stay afloat out West.
Richaun Holmes, F/C, Sacramento Kings
Many bigs can score from the outside. Holmes has dominated inside the paint for one of the worst franchises in the NBA.
Despite having not appeared in the playoffs since 2005-06, Holmes was exceptionally productive.
Check out his stat line from 2020-21.
- 14.2 points per game
- 8.3 rebounds per game
- 1.6 blocks per game
All of those numbers were career highs.
Holmes was also second in field-goal percentage at a 63.7% clip, behind only Rudy Gobert. Gobert gets most of his love due to the defensive end, but Holmes averaged over 1.5 blocks per game. Where is the love?
There are several productive players on underwhelming squads, but Holmes could be the best of the bunch. The array of post moves has allowed him to post double-doubles, but the highlight-reel dunks are where he gets the fans out of their seats.
Holmes is an athletic freak and will continue to post high numbers entering his seventh season at the age of 28.
Terry Rozier, G, Charlotte Hornets
The former Louisville Cardinal is a tremendous player when he has the ball at his disposal. Rozier may lack the size that some premier guards have, but the heart and determination have prevailed for Scary Terry.
He is coming off a career-high in starts (69), but the production is underrated.
Rozier is a young rising star with the ability to obliterate opposing backcourts with his sweet jump shot. In the past two seasons, Rozier has made nearly 40% of his three-pointers.
He also reminded everyone of his explosive scoring ability when he dropped 43 points on the Pelicans.
LaMelo Ball may get the most love on this roster, but Rozier was putting up 20 a night on average, and he will continue to improve upon those numbers.
He should attack the rim more to increase his free throw trips after making 84.4% of them last season.
The star two-guard has point guard skills. The junkyard dog mentality has allowed him to reach stardom after paying his dues with Boston. Expect another stellar season on the Hornets for Rozier.
Jordan Clarkson, G, Utah Jazz
Jordan Clarkson is starting to finally garner some national attention after winning the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year.
this rules. Inside the NBA crew and his teammate Joe Ingles surprise Jordan Clarkson that he won 6th Man of the Year award. pic.twitter.com/Kfcac862pC— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) May 24, 2021
Still, he is not among the Top 25-50 players in the league per most prognosticators.
Clarkson is an elite scorer playing alongside Donovan Mitchell. While he isn’t an All-NBA player yet, he certainly can fill it up with any guard.
The NBA is known for elite benches nowadays, but Clarkson has at times carried Utah in the offensive department. The former Missouri Tiger star was not being featured enough on the underperforming teams. We saw the Lakers and Cavalier squads struggle over the years.
These past two seasons with Utah have enabled him to reach consistent scoring. Look at some of the staggering numbers he posted with the Jazz last season.
- 15th in Three-Point Shots Made Per Game (3.1)
- Ninth in Free-Throw Percentage (89.6)
- 4 Points Per Game (Second on Jazz)
Most fans only know the top 25-plus stars, but Clarkson is starting to get to that level. Another 50-plus win season by Utah could put him over the top, but he remains vastly underrated.
Other Underrated NBA Players for 2021-22
- Nikola Vucevic – Bulls
- Malcolm Brogdon – Pacers
- Jrue Holiday – Bucks
NBA underrated performers are one of the more challenging lists to rank. There are dozens of underrated players most folks forget.
Three others that could be argued at a higher level (they do get plenty of respect, but perhaps not enough) are Vuc, Brogdon, and Jrue.
The latter just won a title and is one of the best two-way players in the league, yet he’s rarely included in the “elite” conversations.
Opportunity and fortune are some ingredients when ranking NBA players, but the national recognition is often unreliable.
Most people on social media are craving the moments where the game is on the line or when a spectacular dunk occurs.
Production, winning, and being a great role player are vital when determining lists as such. I am anxiously awaiting the start of the season and have faith in these players showing out.
As eager for the new season as I am? Get ready with more NBA content below.