For installation one of this three-part series, I talked about De’Aaron Fox, Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton, John Collins, and Nikola Vucevic. This week, we look at my 2nd underrated team, which is full of young, soon-to-be stars in the NBA for the next decade and beyond.
PG: Jamal Murray
Averages: 19 PPG/4 RPG /5 APG on 46 FG%/35 3PT% /89 FT% and 1.2 SPG playing 33 MPG
Murray has remained a fairly consistent and efficient ‘Robin’ to Nikola Jokic. Murray is getting paid the big bucks now though, so he’s going to have to elevate his play more by taking that next step for this team to become a serious title contender. Improving his defense and playmaking are keys for him.
SG: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Averages: 19 PPG/6 RPG/3 APG on 47 FG%/35 3PT%/80 FT% and 1.1 SPG playing 35 MPG
With an increased role in OKC, Shai has received more shot attempts, more usage, and has remained nearly as efficient while playing more minutes. He is on the way to becoming a young, soon-to-be two-way star in the NBA.
If Shai could improve his playmaking, he’d elevate this team like Murray could with Denver.
SF: Brandon Ingram
Averages: 24 PPG /6 RPG/4 APG on 47 FG%/39 3PT%/86 FT% and 1 SPG playing 34 MPG
The biggest statistical jump here, Ingram has become a Most Improved Player candidate as well as an All-Star. Ingram improved his shooting with a refined form on his jumper and has shown an ability to be a driving force of a team’s offense. Even with the return of Zion Williamson, Ingram’s production did not suffer at all.
The next step for him is to improve defensively.
PF: Jonathan Isaac
Averages: 12 PPG/7 RPG/1 APG on 46 FG%/33 3PT%/77 FT% with 1.6 SPG and 2.4 BPG playing 30 MPG
The numbers don’t tell it all. Isaac has played only 32 games but is averaging a whopping 2.6 SPG and 4 BPG Per 100 Possessions, which is absurd. He is able to guard positions 1-4 with ease, and even some 5’s with his length and athleticism.
His defensive contributions have made him a soon-to-be All-NBA Defensive player, as well as a Defensive Anchor for a Magic team with a loaded frontcourt. Isaac averages 19 PPG Per 36 Minutes, so the next step is increasing his minutes and getting him more opportunities offensively while improving his shooting and playmaking again.
Per 100 Possessions Stats: 20 PPG, 11 RPG, 2 APG, 2.6 SPG, 4 BPG
Per 36 Minutes Stats: 15 PPG, 8 RPG, 2 APG, 2 SPG, 3 BPG
C: Mitchell Robinson
Averages: 10 PPG/7 RPG/1 APG on 74 FG%/57 FT% with 1 SPG and 2 BPG playing 23 MPG
A budding star on a hopeless Knicks team, Robinson has become a foundation that the Knicks can build on. However, playing him just 23 MPG and giving him a bench role in favor of Taj Gibson is hurting is development.
Using the advanced metrics such as Per 100 Possessions and Per 36 Minutes shows just how unreal he is defensively. Oh yeah, he also had the most efficient shooting season in NBA history (74% FG%), as well as the best season ever in terms of Offensive Rating (144).
Robinson can begin developing a shot outside of 3 feet from the hoop and stay out of foul trouble. Regardless, we could see the next Rudy Gobert/Clint Capela caliber player soon!
Per 100 Possessions: 21 PPG, 15 RPG, 4 BPG (6 last season), and 2 SPG
Per 36 Minutes: 15 PPG, 11 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 3 BPG, and 4.9 FPG (yikes)
Image: Alonzo Adams/USA TODAY Sports