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Under the Radar, Part II


Underrated plays in the NBA


For the countless NBA fans all across the planet, some plays have become iconic images that represent the never-ending entertainment value that the League provides. From James Harden’s signature step-back and Stephen Curry’s long-range bombs to LeBron James’ trademark tomahawk dunks and chasedown blocks, these are moments that every fan looks forward to witnessing. If you cast your net a little wider though, you will find a few less prominent plays that are worth looking out for.


Mitchell Robinson blocking jumpshots: The second-round draft pick was meant to be a long-term project, but he has turned into a monstrous shot-blocker capable of interfering with every shot. Players take outside jumpers for the purpose of avoiding defensive pressure, with the blocked jumpshot being a statistical rarity, but the 7-foot-1 rookie has turned this notion on its head by leading the League in this category. The perimeter is no longer a safe zone when Robinson’s length, athleticism and mobility are at play on the defensive end.


Shaun Livingston’s turnaround jumper: A decade after an injury robbed him of the mobility he relied on as one of the brightest point guard prospects around, Livingston has reinvented himself as the ultimate role player. His intelligent passing and movement are critical to the Warriors’ successes, but he can also turn into a reliable scorer in the blink of an eye. His weapon of choice is the turnaround jumpshot, which he relentlessly unleashes on hapless defenders after posting them up.


D’Angelo Russell’s mid-range hesitation: The first-time All-Star has brought the hesitation move back to the limelight, as he flat-out embarrasses defenders with his endless fakes. Despite a relative lack of speed, Russell is very comfortable making the opponents play at his pace, as he effortlessly moves into the paint and takes simple set shots. In pulling off this feat, his absolute refusal to gather the ball till the very last second is an art-form, making sure that the defense is unable to limit his options.


Malcolm Brogdon’s drives: In an era built around the three-point shot, the former Rookie of the Year is a throwback. The 6-foot-5 guard is an aggressive slasher who is unwilling to settle for an outside shot, despite his very accurate perimeter stroke. He is a very solid finisher with either hand and fully exploits his physical strength on his forays to the basket, bullying smaller players out of the way. If you try to counter by fouling him, he will simply punish you with his league-leading free throw percentage.