The NBA season can be long and grueling. It's extremely difficult for a team and its players to perform well night in and night out, especially if they have to play three games on consecutive nights or five games in a week's time. The constant physical and mental toll can be difficult for these men to handle. Nevertheless, some individuals put up fantastic numbers every time they step on the court. They draw the focus of their opponents, but still manage to affect the outcome of almost every single game. That's in addition to keeping their bodies healthy for most (or all) of an 82-game campaign.
Unfortunately, some of these special athletes are on the rosters of teams who collectively are not among the league's elite. As a result, the outstanding efforts of these individuals are not rewarded with a chance to compete for an NBA championship. So while scores of lesser players take the floor in late April, May, and June, these standouts must watch it all on TV like the average fan. All they can do is rest up, rededicate themselves to their craft and hope the 2014-15 campaign is kinder to them.
This list salutes those skilled-yet-unfulfilled players who ruled the courts for the past several months but will not compete in the playoffs. It should be noted that this group is made up of those players who notched impressive performances in 2013-14, not those who may be better players on balance but are also sitting home this postseason. Steve Nash, Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant, and Derrick Rose are a few who have a better overall body of work for their careers, but their seasons were truncated due to injuries and their stats reflected that.
Let's look at ten NBA players who turned in exceptional regular seasons - but who won't be participating in the 2014 NBA Playoffs:
10 Gerald Green - Phoenix Suns
9 Brandon Jennings - Detroit Pistons
8 Ty Lawson - Denver Nuggets
7 Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
6 Goran Dragic, Phoenix Suns
5 DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings
4 Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons
3 Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
2 Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves
1 Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks
If you throw out Durant, Melo becomes the best scorer in the NBA this season. He did lead the league in minutes per contest at 38.7 (along with Chicago's Jimmy Butler), which contributed to his amazing 27.4 ppg average. Anthony also shot over 40% from beyond the arc and just shy of 85% from the free throw line, finishing in the top 20 in three-pointers with 167 and sixth overall in free throws made with 459. The 29-year old likely cemented his place in the Hall of Fame by becoming the 50th man (and fifth-youngest ever behind LeBron, Kobe, Air Jordan, and Wilt) to score 19,000 points in the NBA. He also recorded his highest point total in his 11-year career in January when he dropped 62 against Charlotte. No wonder he's the fifth-highest paid player in the NBA at almost $21.4 million this season.
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