Forgotten NBA players
Gerald Wallace, Bobcats
He's the leading scorer (16.2 points per game) and arguably the best all-around player on a team that has missed the playoffs in each of its four seasons of existence. The high-octane Bobcats forward is at his best (or at least his most enjoyable) when he's playing reckless help defense to come up with steals and blocks, driving headlong toward the basket and cruising at inappropriate speeds on fast breaks.
Rudy Gay, Grizzlies
The 22-year-old is an outstanding leaper with the ability to finish powerfully at the rim and is a developing offensive force (19.1 points) who will only improve as he learns the nuances of being at the center of the opposing defense's game plan.
Kevin Martin, Kings
Seemingly always on the move, floating up an unorthodox one-footed runner or jacking up his gun-slinging, shoot-from-the-hip jumper, Martin is perennially in the hunt for the next field-goal attempt. He missed much of November and December with an ankle injury, but in his first six games of January, Martin averaged 29.8 points on 17.8 shots and 11.7 free-throw attempts.
Al Jefferson, Timberwolves
The 23-year-old leads the Wolves in minutes (37.0), points (22.5), rebounds (10.4) and blocks (1.8), and surprisingly helped Minnesota win its first five games of 2009. If that trend keeps up, Jefferson will no longer belong on this list.
Andris Biedrins, Warriors
The 22-year-old Latvian center is among the league leaders in field-goal percentage (55.6 percent), rebounds (12.0) and dispensation of hair product (8.0 dime-sized dollops per game, second only to Nuggets center Chris Andersen, who uses 15.2). In addition to his accuracy and rebounding, Biedrins has averaged 14.0 points, 1.3 steals, 1.6 blocks and 2.2 assists.
Danny Granger, Pacers
He has no clear weaknesses on the basketball court. The dynamic forward shoots well from the field (46.0 percent), free-throw line (86.5 percent) and three-point range (39.3 percent). He rebounds (5.0) and is a developing passer (3.5 assists on the season and 4.4 since the start of December). He's also active on defense (1.1 steals and 1.4 blocks), and - we almost forgot - he's fourth in scoring (26.5) behind some guys named Wade, LeBron and Kobe.
Kevin Durant, Thunder
Durant presents a compelling paradox. Visually, he looks nothing like a threat on the court - his defining physical characteristics are his complete and utter lack of bulk and his oversized, somewhat clunky feet - yet he happens to be an absolute assassin. Relentless on offense, the second-year pro is averaging 23.8 points thanks to a smooth and surprisingly effortless release.