Earlier this week, we took some time out to celebrate the worst of the worst in team history. Now, let’s take some time to flip the script and talk about some players who didn’t get the credit they deserved.
Of course, the issue with the term “underrated” is it all relative to where you rank a person in relation to how you think the rest of the world ranks them, so there’s really no way to come to a consensus here. If we all agreed someone was underrated, they wouldn’t be underrated anymore, they’d be appropriately rated.
But anyways, here’s a few personal nominations to get the ball rolling. Feel free to add your own below.
For as long as Bullets Forever has been around, we’ve been strong Brendan Haywood advocates. He wasn’t exactly poetry in motion, but his unselfish play on both ends helped cover up a lot of Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, and Antawn Jamison’s deficiencies over the years.
Though he may not have earned a lot of individual accolades with the Wizards, his overall profile speaks to just how much he did in Washington. He’s top 10 in franchise history in rebounds, blocks, field goal percentage, and win shares.
Like Haywood, Chris Whitney deserves a lot of props for his longevity and durability in Washington. He’s one of only four players to play all 82 games in four separate seasons. The others? Greg Ballard, Jack Marin, and Wes Unseld. He’s also the only player in franchise history who played with Chris Webber, Michael Jordan, and Gilbert Arenas.
But Whitney was a lot more than just a guy who could avoid injury. His PER was over 15 in five of eight seasons in Washington. He’s also the only player in team history to shoot over 40 percent from deep in three different seasons.
During a time in franchise history filled with turnover and turmoil, Whitney offered some much-needed consistency and reliability.
When people think back to Bullets team that won the 1978 NBA Finals and fell just short in 1979, everyone remembers Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes as the team’s dynamic duo, but they forget how good Kupchak was off the bench. He averaged 20.3 points and 10.2 rebounds per 36 minutes while shooting 52.8 percent from the field during his four seasons in Washington. He also made a number of important shots during the Bullets’ title run, and helped close out the decisive Game 7 against Seattle after Elvin Hayes fouled out.
The only reason we don’t remember Kupchak more fondly is because the Lakers swooped in and signed him to a long-term deal the year Wes Unseld retired and he never really got a chance to shine like he could have with Washington.