2014-15 All-Underappreciated Team

All-Star frenzy is officially in full swing.  Media heads and fans have been assembling their twelve-man rosters for the East and West for the past week or so, giving their two cents on questions with no right answer.  “Do the Hawk deserve four All-Stars?”  “Have Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook missed too many games to be considered?”  “Should a guy like DeMarcus Cousins be penalized because of his team’s poor record?”  

Now that the reserves have been announced, everyone will undoubtedly shift their attention to the biggest snubs, most notably Lillard and Cousins (who is now Kobe Bryant’s replacement). However, I want to shed some light on a few players who haven’t been involved in any of the All-Star talk by creating an All-Underappreciated Team.  

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Clippers' Seven Game Swing

After stumbling to a 5-4 start, the Clippers have rebounded with the most successful road trip in franchise history.  They won an unprecedented six out of seven games with the only loss coming to an emerging Memphis Grizzlies team led by darkhorse MVP candidate Marc Gasol.  It helps that the opposition was softer than usual; the wins came against Orlando, Miami (without Dwyane Wade), Charlotte, Detroit, Houston (without Dwight Howard, Terrence Jones, Patrick Beverley), and Utah.  Regardless, the Clippers won these games in convincing fashion and look to have snapped out of their funk.  They became the first team in NBA history to have an average win margin above 11 in a road trip of seven games or longer, proving their dominance as of late.

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Brandon Knight A.D.J. (After DeAndre Jordan)

When someone mentions Brandon Knight in conversation, you know this is the first thing that pops into your head:

What an unfortunate memory for Knight.  He was the laughingstock of the NBA for days, as the posterization replayed ceaselessly on ESPN.  Social media didn’t make things any easier for him, as people hurried to their Twitter and Facebook accounts to take jabs at him.  Someone even took the time to change Knight’s Wikipedia page to state that he had died at the hands of DeAndre Jordan.

In a way, a part of Brandon Knight did die on March 10, 2013.  That fateful dunk would serve as a turning point in the career of the Florida native; he would be resurrected the following season as a changed basketball player.  Enter Brandon Knight A.D.J.

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Trouble Buzzing in Charlotte

The Charlotte Hornets are looking to take another step forward.  Last year, they made the playoffs for the second time under the reign of Michael Jordan, but were swept out by LeBron James and the Miami Heat.  So the team went to work this offseason, quickly signing the gifted-but-combustible Lance Stephenson away from the Indiana Pacers.  They also added Marvin Williams to replace Josh McRoberts as the starting power forward and drafted a physical specimen in Noah Vonleh and a knockdown shooter in P.J. Hairston.

Charlotte has most of its core returning from last season and is looking to grow into a legitimate contender.  But will these moves be enough to make the Charlotte Hornets one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference this year?  ESPN’s Forecast Panel has them projected to finish 5th in the East, but there are some signs that indicate it won’t be quite so easy to duplicate a trip to the playoffs.

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How J-Smoove Can Find His Groove

NBA free agency is winding down.  Yet, a couple high-profile names still don’t know where they will be playing next year: restricted free agents Eric Bledsoe and Greg Monroe.  The former is in the middle of a contract negotiation meltdown with the Suns, pushing his relationship with the team to “the verge of [being] irreparable."  The latter is disgruntled with the current roster makeup of his Detroit Pistons.  More specifically, Monroe has a problem with a certain player:

Josh Smith.

I understand that Smith and Monroe share the same natural position (power forward) and do not complement each other’s games, but Monroe is at the point where he is on the verge of signing a one-year qualifying offer from the Pistons instead of agreeing to a lucrative long-term deal.  The implied message is that Monroe will flee the Motor City next summer if Smith is still there.

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