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The "under-the-radar" tag has become pretty watered down in today's sports landscape. What happens a lot of the time is certain players get talked about so much for the fact that they never get talked about that, ironically, they're no longer operating under the radar. 

Derrick White comes to mind. Aaron Gordon. Herb Jones. Jalen Williams. Jaden McDaniels. All these guys get a certain level of pub by virtue of, supposedly, not getting enough pub, and thus I have decided to rule them ineligible for my "Under-the-Radar" All-Star team, which will be composed of 12 players (five starters, seven bench players) that I feel have genuinely been outright overlooked or at least under-discussed to enough of a degree to warrant inclusion on this distinguished roster. 

This list is, at its heart, a recognition of role players, even if some of the names you'll see are clearly better than such a pedestrian designation would suggest. I am not including the likes of, say, D'Angelo Russell for the simple fact that nobody who plays for the Lakers, let alone someone playing as well as Russell, can fly under any basic NBA radar. Alperen Sengun has entered the national discussion. So has Coby White

Four guys I debated for a long time that didn't end up making the cut: Mike Conley, Norman Powell, Isaac Okoro and Naz Reid. You could make strong cases for Max Strus and Ivica Zubac, as well. I'm sure I am missing more than a few. 

But just like the real All-Star team, everyone can't make it. This is just my opinion. Let's have some fun with it. 

Under-the-radar All-Star starters

Jalen Suggs
ORL • SG • #4
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The Orlando Magic are battling for a top-four seed because of their top-five defense, and Jalen Suggs, top 10 in total steals and a ferocious space eater, is running point on that attack. That said, we've known that Suggs is one of the league's nastiest on-ball defenders for some time. What lands him a spot on this roster is the sharp development of his shooting. 

A 21% 3-point shooter as a rookie and 32% last year, Suggs is nearing 40% from 3 on over five attempts per game this season. He has doubled his catch-and-shoot volume as Orlando runs so much inverted offense through its two 6-foot-10 creators, Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner

In today's game, 22-year-old elite perimeter defenders who shoot 40% from 3 on real volume profile as foundational pieces, and Suggs, after a slow start to his career and some questions as to whether he was going to justify the No. 5 overall pick that Orlando used to get him in 2021, has surely solidified himself as such. 

Jrue Holiday
BOS • PG • #4
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The biggest name on this list, Jrue Holiday feels like a forgotten hero in Boston. We all know about the co-stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Derrick White, who probably should've made the actual All-Star team, is the ironic darling who gets talked about all the time as a guy who doesn't get talked about enough. All the space with which Boston has to work on on offense is largely attributed to Kristaps Porzingis

Meanwhile, Holiday is plugging along at a career-high 45% from 3 while playing his typical brand of elite defense across the full positional spectrum; it is not unusual to see Holiday checking some of the biggest players in the league and more than holding his own. He has been seamless in his Celtics assimilation as the upgraded version of Marcus Smart, who frankly got way more ink during his time in Boston than Jrue has received at any point over the course of his sensational career. 

Grayson Allen
PHO • SG • #8
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All the talk in Phoenix circles around the Big 3 of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal and whether they'll all be healthy at the same time and whether the Suns, even in that best-case scenario, have enough ancillary production outside of the trio. Meanwhile, Grayson Allen is quietly going nuts this season. 

Allen is shooting 47% from 3 (by far the best mark of any player who has attempted at least 100 3s on the season) on over five attempts per game He has an outside shot at joining the 50-40-90 club. Phoenix's offense falls by almost six points per 100 possessions when he goes to the bench, per Cleaning the Glass, and he regularly takes on top-shelf defensive assignments. 

Allen has had three games with at least eight made 3-pointers in the past two weeks. He has three games this season with double-digit 3s (10 vs. Sacramento, 11 vs. Miami, 12 vs. Dallas). He cashed seven first-half 3s against Toronto last week, a Suns franchise record. Even with superstar scorers around him, Allen's role in Phoenix is clear: when it doubt, let it fly. What an amazing job description, and Allen is nailing the gig. 

Donte DiVincenzo
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Only Stephen Curry and Luka Doncic have made more 3-pointers this season than Donte DiVincenzo, who is already just the fourth player in Knicks history to make 200 3s in a season (203 entering play Wednesday) and is tracking toward Evan Fournier's franchise record of 241. 

It's not just volume. DiVincenzo is connecting from beyond the arc at a 40% clip. He's lights out from the corners (48%, per CTG), creating a tall order for defenses when the Knicks are at full strength with Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle creating in the middle of the floor while DiVincenzo, OG Anunoby and Bojan Bogdanovic space all around the arc. 

DiVincenzo embodies everything that is good about this Knicks team. A tough player who defends to the capacity of his powers and plays as hard as he does smart. His career-high usage rate has jumped over 30% from last season as Tom Thibodeau entrusts him to do a hell of lot more than just offer his shooting support. This is a core offensive player on a potential top-four seed. 

Luguentz Dort
OKC • SF • #5
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Welcome to the Dorture Chamber, where even the greatest scorers on earth find it difficult to breathe; when the great Mark Jones recently remarked that Lu Dort was in Kevin Durant's face "like acne," he wasn't lying. It is inspiring to watch Dort, a laterally-moving brick, smother scorers into submission. 

But like the aforementioned Jalen Suggs, Dort's defense is not a secret. It's his offense that you probably aren't paying enough attention to unless you operate a Thunder blog. Of the 72 players who've attempted at least 300 3-pointers this season, only 11 have fared better than Dort's 41%. 

The guy is connecting at a better 3-point clip than Stephen Curry for crying out loud. Sure, Curry shoots a lot more 3s of a much more difficult variety, but still, if you would have suggested when Dort came into the league, or even as recently as last season, that he would one day own a better 3-point shooting percentage than Curry, you would've had your basketball "expert" card pulled for life. But here we are. 

And I'm here to tell you that Dort isn't just a 3-and-D stereotype. He can and does put the ball on the floor comfortably and effectively. He can create his own shot a little bit. Finish in traffic a little bit. This is a big-time player for a legit title contender. 

Under-the-radar All-Star bench

Trey Murphy III
NO • SF • #25
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There are a number of New Orleans candidates worthy of inclusion here. Jose Alvarado, a taller Mugsy Bogues, is a plus-minus god. Herb Jones is awesome but isn't quite under the radar anymore. I would contend that CJ McCollum, while certainly a big name, is grossly underrepresented in these discussions of flat-out bucket getters; he is among the most reliable self creators in the league and one of the best 3-point shooters and yet somehow the only time you ever really hear him talked about is around trade season. 

But to me, the guy that fits the under-the-radar bill best is Trey Murphy III. He's not the nerd hero that Jones is and he's not as good as McCollum, but in many ways, as he goes, so go the Pelicans, who fall by 9.6 points per 100 possessions when he leaves the court, per CTG. 

ESPN's Kevin Pelton recently made an interesting note that in Murphy's 10 best individual games this season, as measured by Basketball-Reference's Game Score metric, the Pelicans are 10-0, and 1-6 in Murphy's seven worst performances. The Pelicans are 23-10 when Murphy plays and 16-15 when he doesn't. Classic X-factor stuff. 

Murphy is a super two-way athlete who bombs away from deep: 38% on almost eight 3-point attempts per game. It's the volume that really poses a threat. Any given night Murphy can hit you for a big number, as he did recently against Atlanta with 10 3-pointers. Since the All-Star break only five players have made more 3-pointers than Murphy, whose 38 triples matches Stephen Curry over that time frame. 

Jalen Johnson
ATL • SF • #1
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Jalen Johnson should be a leading candidate for Most Improved Player. Last season, he played 15 minutes a game and averaged five points and four rebounds. This year he's at more than 15 points and almost nine boards in more than 34 minutes a night. 

Put it like this: Atlanta is widely believed to be prepared to trade anyone on its roster, but Johnson would almost certainly be one of the last, if not the last, to go. That includes Trae Young. That's how valued this guy has become for the current iteration of a team that is, for almost all intents and purposes, circling the drain. 

Johnson is a full-court athlete in those most run-and-jump-you-out-of-the-gym sense, but he's also very skilled and fluid in more static conditions. Watch him put the ball on the floor.  Watch his footwork. Watch how smooth and repeatable his jumper looks. He will be a plus 3-point shooter very soon, mark my words. 

Bottom line: Call the Hawks right now and ask about a trade for Johnson. Unless you're offering a star, you're going to get hung up on. He's been one of the best stories this season, even if its gotten lost in the depressing saga of the team he plays for. 

Collin Sexton
UTA • SG • #2
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Somewhere along the way Colin Sexton got labeled as something of a score-first/empty-stat stuffer who couldn't serve as a starting point guard on a serious team. I'm not sure that was always fair, though it's true he was a shot hunter more than a traditional point guard, whatever that means in the modern game. Still, this is a guy who averaged 24 PPG on 48/37/81 shooting splits his last full season in Cleveland. 

The Cavs ultimately chose Darius Garland over Sexton (rightly so), and in ending up in Utah as part of the Donovan Mitchell trade, Sexton has set the record straight: He can flat out play. This season, Sexton is at 18 PPG and a career-high 4.7 assists on better than 40% 3-point shooting. 

Since Sexton was inserted into the starting lineup (even though he's probably best suited for a sixth-man role on a good team) on Dec. 13 against the Knicks, when he went for 26 points on 10 of 18 from the field, he has averaged 21.2 points and 5.5 assists on 50/43/81 shooting splits. 

Those are massive numbers over a three-month stretch. We're not talking talking about a couple hot weeks. This man is a bucket, as the kids say, and an efficient one at that, as evidenced by the Utah offense falling by six points per 100 possessions when he sits, per CTG. 

Isaiah Hartenstein
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When Mitchell Robinson, who was having a historic offensive rebounding season while tracking toward an All-Defense nod, went down in early December, it was thought to be a major blow to the Knicks. But as it turns out, Isaiah Hartenstein can do most of what Robinson did on the glass and as a rim protector while offering more offensively. 

Teams are converting just 63.3% of their shots at the rim against the Knicks, per CTG, the fifth-stingiest mark in the league, and Hartenstein is the primary reason for that. Since Robinson's injury, scorers have made just 46.9% pf the shots they've attempted with Hartenstein as the primary defender. That's a top-10 mark among centers and notably better than the likes of Victor Wembanyama and Anthony Davis

Outside of OG Anunoby, who has played fewer than 500 minutes in a Knick uniform, and Jalen Brunson, no New York player makes a bigger point-differential impact than Hartenstein's plus-7.1 per 100, per CTG, and that number certainly lines up with the eye test. 

Brandin Podziemski
GS • SG • #2
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Steve Kerr does not trust young players to function, let alone thrive in his highly evolved offensive scheme, but Brandin Podziemski has become a regular starter as a rookie. Part of that is Klay Thompson's decline, but Podz has earned the role (even if it has flipped back to Thompson of late) with his spark-plug ability to create off the dribble and expertly navigate, and exploit, the subtle spaces of a Stephen Curry offense. 

For the month of February, Podziemski averaged 10.8 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists with better than a 4-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in almost 32 minutes per game. The Warriors went 11-3 and were over 11 points better per 100 possessions with Podz on the court. The guy just plays winning basketball, even if a glance at his shooting splits won't wow you. He's a threat everywhere and leads the league in charges drawn for good measure. 

Victor Wembanyama and Chet Holmgren are getting all the rookie attention, and deservedly so. Brandon Miller gets some ink now and again. But unless you do your partying on the Golden State blog scene, you likely don't even know how to spell Podziemski's name, let alone realize how good he already is. If he isn't All-Rookie first team, some voters are going to have some explaining to do. 

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
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Nikola Jokic is the MVP. Jamal Murray is a superstar hiding in plain sight and the best player never to have made an All-Star team. Aaron Gordon is the standard for what constitutes as perfect role-player fit. Michael Porter Jr. is the X-factor. 

Meanwhile, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is one of the most reliable players in the league and yet you almost never hear his name. KCP, in addition to being an exceptional defender, has just a shade of Rip Hamilton in him when he's curling around screens and dribble-handoffs for free-throw-line jumpers that have come to feel damn near automatic. 

KCP is a 40% 3-point shooter with a minuscule usage rate. He fills all the right gaps and has a knack for knocking down big shots as his more threatening teammates command extra attention. Denver is 15.7 points better per 100 possessions when he's on the floor, per CTG, a point-differential only topped by Jokic. The definition of a winning player. 

Tre Jones
SA • PG • #33
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Two lineup changes have been the key to Victor Wembanyama's explosion: San Antonio moved Wemby to center, going away from the two-big lineups that featured Wemby and Zach Collins, and they inserted Tre Jones as their starting point guard after a failed Jeremy Sochan experiment. 

None of Jones' numbers are going to stick out. He averages fewer than 10 points on seven shots a game. He's a 30% 3-point shooter. He's just a terrifically steady hand with better than a 4-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He gets the Spurs moving; only three teams score more fast-break points per 100 possession than San Antonio when Jones is on the floor. 

Jones can get into the lane and he gets the right people -- Hello, Wemby -- the ball in the right places at the right times, and everything flows from there. There's a lot to be said for that level of organization on a young team, as evidenced by the chasm in Spurs point differentials when he's on the court (minus-0.7, per 100 possessions) vs. off the court (minus-14.3). 

Wembanyama and even Devin Vassell are going to get the Spurs headlines, but it's actually Jones -- albeit in combination with San Antonio's best guys -- who has made the greatest difference on the scoreboard.