A quick look at which under the radar players stepped up in Week 4
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The NBA is filled with stars who put up 30 points a night and are rightfully discussed endlessly through all forms of media.
But what about the other guys on the team who we don’t know about? The guys who make a substantive yet unrecognised contribution towards helping their teams get the W.
To highlight the efforts of these “unsung heroes,” each week I am going to nominate three players who have gone out and got the job done with no fuss. A greater weight will go towards those players who helped their teams have winning weeks, rather than those whose teams went 0-4.
Week 4 was another entertaining week of NBA action. Last week’s 3-0 Milwaukee Bucks turned that record on its head to go 0-3. Denver continued its roller coaster season, while the Charlotte Bobcats have already equaled last season’s win total. The Wizards are still unable to conjure up a victory, and we have three more guys ready to receive some love in this week’s edition of Unsung Heroes.
Chandler Parsons (HOU)
All the talk this past off season in Houston was the signing of former New York Knick Jeremy Lin. The Rockets signed the overnight sensation and also added former Chicago Bulls big man Omer Asik in an effort to once again become a competitive team in a tough Western Conference.
Then on the eve of the season the Rockets acquired James Harden from the Oklahoma City Thunder, with the hope that he would become “the man” that carries the Rockets on his back to the promised land.
So with all the talk about the Rockets new acquisitions, I will forgive you if you are currently thinking “Chandler who”?
Despite starting the week slowly in a loss to the Utah Jazz—and if by slowly you mean 10 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and two 3’s—Parsons launched the Rockets into action with wins over the Bobcats and the Knicks.
The 6-foot-9 sophomore dropped 18 points to go with 13 boards and 2 more 3’s against the improving Charlotte Bobcats. But he saved his best until last this week.
While all the talk around the Rockets match up against the Knicks surrounded Lin’s facing off against his old team, it was Parsons who was causing the Knicks all kinds of headaches.
Parsons exploded for a career high 31 points on 76 per cent shooting including four from downtown as the Rockets torched the Knicks, 131-103. Throw in five boards, four assists and four steals, and you have a pretty healthy box score.
With all the attention on Harden and Lin, Parsons has just continued to go about his business with a minimum of fuss to start the season. His 3-point shooting has improved out of sight, which in turn has allowed him to get to the bucket more often as defenses step up to try to stop the three.
So it is no surprise his shooting percentages have increased, along with his points (up to 15.5 per game), rebounds (seven per game) and assists (three and a half per game).
While many believe the Rockets will only get as far as Harden will take them, there is no doubt the improvement of Chandler Parsons is having a massive impact on Houston’s fortunes, particularly when it comes to being able to space the floor and create open looks and driving lanes.
Parsons play has been so impressive this season that he has made his way onto this seasons All-Star ballot. Not bad for a 38th
pick in the draft, huh?
Jeff Teague (ATL)
Some experts predicted the Atlanta Hawks to be a team on the slide this season. After a fairly bland start to the season, the Hawks have won five straight and are quietly starting to challenge for the best record in the Eastern Conference.
Just like the Hawks, Jeff Teague has been quietly going about his business and had a fantastic week to lead the Hawks to a 4-0 record.
Teague started the week with nine points, seven assists and two steals in a comfortable win over the Orlando Magic, to go with another 14 points and seven assists in a tight win over the Wizards.
The former Wake Forrest guard then kicked into gear delivering two double-doubles in wins over the hot Charlotte Bobcats (13 points, 12 assists) and the impressive LA Clippers (19 points, 11 assists). This also included going 50 per cent from deep.
The most telling stat that points at Teague’s production this week was his +/- total for each game. He finished each game with at least a +12, which means while he was on the court the Hawks were comfortably outplaying their opposition.
I think the biggest improvement from the 24-year-old is his new ability to create for his teammates. Teague has increased his assists averages from just less than five per game last season, to more than seven per game this season. Add to this the fact that Teague is shooting more than 90 per cent from the free throw line and more than 42 per cent from long range, and it is clear Teague efficiency is one of the main reasons the Hawks are challengers in the Eastern Conference—for the time being at least.
Carl Landry (GSW)
Carl Landry is kind of the definition of an unsung hero. The 29-year-old journey man has played for four different NBA teams over six seasons, never managing to find his home.
Maybe he has found that home with the Golden State Warriors. After joining the Warriors this season Landry is playing some of the best basketball of his career.
The 6-foot-9 forward is averaging career highs in field goal percentage, rebounding (including more than three offensive boards per game) and assists.
Landry’s versatility off the bench as well as his hustle helped the Warriors go 3-1 this week, all without injured star Andrew Bogut.
The former second-round pick started the week well; however, the most promising sign came from the last two games where Landry snared 10 offensive rebounds, plus, he also got to the free throw line 18 times and drained 17 of those attempts.
Landry has added some badly needed consistency to the Warriors’ line-up. His presence in the post is massive; he can score and fights for rebounds. He has added toughness to this Warriors team that has been missing for so long.
This is the real value of Carl Landry. His “never say die” attitude is starting to rub off on some of these young Warriors players, and this team all of the sudden has some physical kind of swagger.
If the rest of the Warriors can follow Landry’s lead, Golden State may finally have an impact in the stacked Western Conference.
So that’s it for Week Four of Unsung Heroes. Thanks for your input in and thoughts in selecting this week’s heroes. Was there someone from your team who you feel deserves a shout out? If you think a player deserves a mention in next week’s edition, leave your comment below to make your voice heard…