BOSTON – When it comes to winning in the NBA, it’s clear that you have to have a few stars on your roster. But to really win at the highest of levels, it requires contributions from players that may go unnoticed but are essential to a team’s success.
These players all have skills, otherwise they wouldn’t be in the NBA.
But often those skills aren’t on full display because for the team to be successful, they need to excel in one or two particular areas.
And with that, here’s the NBA All-Glue team heading into the 2018-2019 season.
Al Horford, Boston Celtics
Here’s why: He might be the most non-descript five-time All-Star of this generation. But that doesn’t diminish the impact that Horford has made ever since he came into the NBA. His ability as a playmaker in the post ranks him among the best passing big men in the NBA. And in recent years, Horford has developed a deadly 3-point shot that makes him even more impactful. But the one thing Horford does as well as any player in the league, is win. He has been in the NBA 11 seasons, each of which involved his teams in Atlanta and Boston getting to the postseason.
Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
Here’s why: A Three-time All-star and former Defensive Player of the Year (2017), Green is everything you want in a glue guy. He has the versatility to defend all five positions on the floor, and doesn’t grumble about whether he gets enough touches or not. Like Horford, he doesn’t make all-star teams because of his stats; it’s due to the success that his teams have and his role in making that happen.
Malcolm Brogdon, Milwaukee Bucks
Here’s why: As the Bucks make their way into the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference this season, they are going to need reliable players who can handle doing the little things that are needed to win but don’t necessarily appear on the stat sheet. Brogdon isn’t a great scorer, but has shown a fearless nature in close, down-to-the-wire games. Defensively, he can guard multiple positions and not lose his effectiveness. The Bucks don’t win at a high level without Brogdon doing what he does best, which is being a solid contributor in a multitude of areas of the game.
Clint Capela, Houston Rockets
Here’s why: When you think defense in the NBA, the Houston Rockets are one of the last teams that comes to mind. And their defense will be even more challenged with the departures of Trevor Ariza (Phoenix) and Luc Mbah a Moute (Los Angeles Clippers). That leaves Capela, an athletic, rim-protecting rebounder that will be counted on defensively more than any other Rockets player. The 24-year-old big man signed a five-year, $90 million contract this summer which tells you how much the Rockets are counting on him to be a major contributor. Last season, he was seventh in the NBA in contested shots (12.8) per game. But more telling was the fact that Capela averaged 27.0 minutes played per game, while the six players ahead of him logged at least 32 minutes per game according to NBA.com/stats. But as much as that helps, the true value in Capela will be the shot attempts that opponents don’t take because of his presence around the basket, or the turnovers he causes by forcing opponents to make passes or plays they did not intend to do.
Steven Adams, Oklahoma City Thunder
Here’s why: Arguably the strongest player in the NBA, Adams understands knows the pecking order in town begins with Russell Westbrook and Paul George. His role is to be available to score when they’re not, and consistently rebound and defend the hell out of the ball in addition to setting some of the most bone-jarring picks in the NBA. It is that latter part of his game, screen-setting, that really opens things up for both himself and teammates. Last season, Adams was second in the NBA in screen assists (4.9) per game, which is a screen that leads directly to a made basket. It’s not the sexiest stat out there, but it speaks to the value Adams brings to the table that might be overlooked by those outside the Thunder organization.
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