Honorable Mention : Jalen Brunson
Jalen Brunson flew under the radar in his rookie season due to the massive amount of hype surrounding rookie sensation, Luka Dončić. He started 38 games for Dallas last season (his role increased after Dennis Smith Jr’s, involvement in the Kristaps Porzingis trade). He averaged 9.3 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 3.2 assists in his 20.8 minutes per game. He’s the perfect backcourt sidekick to pair with Luka Dončić, with his ability to play without the ball in his hands.
The reason that he’s an honorable mention, and not part of the actual list is that he’s just a rookie. Compared the players on the list, he’s had far less opportunity to gain exposure. The players on the list have had more opportunity, but still remain overlooked.
#5 Monte Morris
When it comes to efficiency, Monte Morris is the gold standard. He’s second in assist to turnover ratio (with players playing at least 15 minutes per game), which shows that when the ball’s in his hands, good things happen. He was the leader of Denver’s second unit last season, averaging 10.4 points, 3.6 assists, 2.4 rebounds, and only 0.6 turnovers, in his 24 minutes per game. He also shot really well from the field, shooting 49% from the field, 41% from three, and 80% from the free throw line. Those looks very similar to Malcolm Brogdon’s rookie and sophomore stats, which is a good sign for Denver. He’s only 24, and with how much potential he showed this past season, he could be a potential starting caliber player in the upcoming years.
#4 Tyus Jones
Tyus Jones is now a member of the Memphis Grizzlies after Minnesota decided not to match Memphis’ offer. Tyus Jones signed for 3 years, $26.4 million. He’s one of the most efficient players in the league, with a league leading assist to turnover ratio of 6.96. He doesn’t have the best career stats, only averaging 5.1 points, 3.3 assists, and 1.3 rebounds in his 4 seasons in Minnesota, but he has shown steady improvement. Last season he averaged 6.9 points, 4.8 assists, an 2 rebounds, with only 0.7 turnovers. He won’t ever be a superstar in this league, but if he keeps improving he could be a solid contributor in this league for years.
#3 Eric Bledsoe
Eric Bledsoe is one of the most polished players at the point guard position. He can create offense for both his teammates and himself, he has a consistent three point shot, and he’s one of the best defenders at his position. The reason that he’s “underrated”, isn’t because of his talent, but the talent around him. He plays with the league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, which means that all of the spotlight goes to him. For Milwaukee Bledsoe has averaged 16.8 points, 5.3 points, and 3.4 rebounds, which is great considering the fact that he’s had to share ball handling duties with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Malcolm Brogdon. With Malcolm Brogdon now playing for Indiana, Bledsoe will have even more opportunity to show how great of a player he truly is.
#2 Dj Augustin
Nikola Vučević gets most of the credit for Orlando’s success last season, but without Augustin, it’s unlikely they would’ve won 42 games. Augustin averaged 11.7 points, 5.3 assists, and 2.5 rebounds last season. In the first round of the playoffs, Orlando was able to steal a road game against Toronto because of Augustin’s 25 point and 6 assist performance. Leading your team to a victory over the eventual NBA Champions is a very impressive feat, but one that isn’t acknowledged. He is 31 years old, so he isn’t the long term answer for Orlando at the point guard position, but he’s a more than serviceable placeholder until that answer is found.
#1 Lonzo Ball
Lonzo Ball has a ton of expectations coming out of college, so while he’s been slightly underwhelming, he’s been a lot better than he gets credit for. He’s an elite playmaker and defender, who struggles offensively. The Lakers were a much better team with him the floor, showing that sometimes your skills aren’t shown in typical box score stats. His career stats so far are, 10.2 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 7.2 assists, 0.8 blocks, and 1.7 steals. His efficiency is very poor, shooting 38% from the field, 32% from three, and an abysmal 44% from the free throw line. Casual basketball fans are immediately turned off because of his lack of offensive production, and overlook more important things like playmaking, defense, and the most important thing, winning. Lonzo Ball has the potential to be a Hall of Fame level player, but people still look at him as a disappointment.