By: Joe Cardoso
We are almost at the All-Star break of the NBA season and this has been one first half for the ages. The amount of storylines has been endless and begs the question where do you start? The fun and exciting Sacramento Kings, James Harden killing everyone, What the Spurs are doing and don’t forget the Bucks. That is like 5% of what is popping off all around the league, but for this article, I want to focus on ballers who are under the radar. This team I put together is from all over the place and have been key in the success of their teams. Most of them will not make the All-Star Game but they will be names that true fans know and those who really watch the game and check box scores. In the age of portionless hoops, I dropped the power forward and went with a 3 guard line-up with big men coming off the bench.
Starting five for my All-First Half Unsung Team:
Guard: D’ Angelo Russell, Brooklyn Nets
19 ppg, 4 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 steal
Funny how life happens sometimes isn’t it? The Lakers felt the former first-round pick wasn’t getting it and lacked leadership. After being allowed to work on his game and mature Russell is living his best life and playing his best ball. He is one of the team leaders and has a Nets team that most saw doing little this season sitting at 26 wins and at the time of this article winners of 5 in a row. Game winners, 40pt games and a ton of highlights have his stock rising and I am all in on it. This former Buckeye is hitting his stride and the rest of the league better take notice.
Guard: Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn Nets
17 ppg, 3 boards, 5 assists
Hard work pays off and Spencer defines that proof in the great contract he signed with Brooklyn. He has made his mid-range game and hustle a cog in the Nets surprise season. Not to mention his dope sneaker game brought to you by Kickasso. The 4-year man out of Colorado is a problem.
Forward: Tobias Harris, Los Angeles Clippers
21.0 ppg, 8 rebounds, and 2 assists
Doc Rivers has done some wonders in L.A. and has them in a spot I didn’t think was in the cards for them. Harris has come a long way from his Orlando Magic days. With an improving game and team, this is a career year. Not know to most leagues fans he will be soon enough, and the 2nd half of the season will be the true test.
Guard: De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings
17 ppg, 7 assists, 2 steals, and 4 rebounds
The Fox is so much fun to watch play he is always in attack mode and you can see the giant leap his game has taken in year 2. The Kings are a lot of peoples secret NBA league pass crush and worthy of the lost sleep. Who is the fastest player in the NBA with the ball in his had arguments can stop in my opinion it is Fox. Would love to see that 3 point percentage go up, but when you can blow past everyone who needs to shoot it from deep? Along with All Unsung Hero, 6th man Buddy Hield this backcourt is dynamic.
Forward: Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic
21 ppg, 12 rebounds 1 steal and 4 assists.
The big man is doing it all for a Magic team that can sneak in the playoffs as an 8 seed and possibly win a game or two depending on the matchup. He is a bull in the paint and has developed his game a ton. At 28 he still has time to add to it and may not be in Orlando next year. Will be interesting to see how the rest of the season goes for him and the team.
All Unsung Hero Team Bench:
Jaren Jackson Jr.
Let’s keep the conversation going, who did I miss? Who is on your unsung hero team for the first half? Follow our blog @NutsAndBoltsSP or me @JoeCardoso301. The best of the season is still to come and I cannot wait for it!