Thursday, May 14, 2015

2014-2015 NBA All-Blue Collar Team

2014-2015 NBA All-Blue Collar Team
Work hard.
Stars are important in the NBA. They shouder the load, produce highlights, serve as the face of their organization, sell tickets, and liven up the league in general. Players like Stephen Curry, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and James Harden are intensely markted athletes and All-Star Game fixtures who make the NBA go.

Teams covet stars. They court them in July, throw multi-million contracts at them, and shower them with praise. To make sure the star thrives, however, you need blue-collar players to do the dirty work. I came up with the All-Blue Collar Team concept  to give these NBA worker ants some well-deserved recognition. Last year marked the second edition.

The parameters for eligibility?
  1. The player has never made an All-Star team.
  2. The player has played in at least 50% of the season's games.
  3. The player was not in his team's top-3 for MPG.
Guys like DeMarre Carroll (who made the Second Team last year) and Draymond Green (a strong candidate for DPOY and Most Improved Player this year) unfortunately played too much minutes to qualify, but I want to take the time out to acknowledge their work this year. Carroll and Green pretty much embody what begin a "blue-collar player" is all about.
"A blue collar player is a dependable role player who outworks the players around him, squeezing a ton out of his average talent to help his team win."
Without further ado, I present to you the 2013-2014 NBA All-Blue Collar Teams:

2014-2015 All-Blue Collar First Team

2014-2015 NBA All-Blue Collar Team

Dennis Schröder, G - The Atlanta Hawks broke the formula this year. Instead of depending on a superstar to fuel them, they preached hard work and team play, grabbing the No. 1 seed with a 60-22 record. With Al Horford, Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague doing most of the heavy lifting, and Kyle Korver (shooting) and DeMarre Carroll (defense) excelling in their niche, German sophomore Dennis Schröder  chipped in wherever he could, averaging 10.0 PPG and 4.1 APG in under 20 minutes.

Khris Middleton, G - Former No. 39 overall pick Khris Middleton did himself a favor this year. The 6-foot-7 swingman out of Texas A&M averaged 13.4 PPG on .467% shooting (.407% from deep) for the 41-41 Milwaukee Bucks, showing his expanded game and comfort on the court, playing with great energy every time he's out there.

Corey Brewer, F - When the Houston Rockets swung a deal for forward Corey Brewer in December, they knew what they were getting: a gritty, lengthy and quick defender who thrives in transition. The pairing has been a match made in heaven for both parties. With superstars James Harden and Dwight Howard shouldering the load, Brewer's speed and agility creates serious havoc for opposing teams.

Tristan Thompson, F - The arrival of Kevin Love in Cleveland sent fourth-year forward Tristan Thompson (No. 4 overall in 2011) back to the bench. The durable Canadian excelled, giving the Cavaliers 8.5 PPG and 8.0 RPG on .547% (a career-high). He could have sulked and pouted, but instead he embraced his new role, giving the team rebounding and effort whenever he's out there.

Hassan Whiteside, C - Hassan Whiteside came out of nowhere (well, China to be exact) to completely tear it up for the Miami Heat. The 7-foot center notched several double- and triple-doubles, finishing with season averages of 11.8 PPG, 10.0 RPG and 2.6 RPG. His energy, hustle and defense were a joy to watch.

2014-2015 All-Blue Collar Second Team

2014-2015 NBA All-Blue Collar Team

Aaron Brooks, G - Pint-sized Chicago guard Aaron Brooks averaged 11.6 PPG and 3.2 APG for the 50-32 Bulls, playing in all 82 games and filling in admirably as a starter when former MVP Derrick Rose went down with a torn meniscus in February. He's a quiet worker who steadies the offense and knocks down shots, showing up teams that traded and waived him over the years.

Tony Allen, G - Grizzled Memphis guard Tony Allen is a familiar face. He was on the First Team in 2013-2014 and on the Second Team in 2012-2013. This season, The Grindfather averaged 8.6 PPG, 4.4 RPG and 2.0 SPG for the 55-27 Grizzlies. His strong and savvy play has made him the heart and soul of the team.

Jared Dudley, F - Veteran forward Jared Dudley has been a real mentor to Milwaukee's young star. He plays hard to help the team win, supplying scrappy defense, displaying a lot of toughness, and being vocal about guys getting in the right positions. Dudley averaged 7.2 PPG on .468% shooting (.385% from deep) fro the 41-41 Bucks.

Kevin Seraphin, F - Forward Kevin Seraphin has been awesome for the 46-36 Washington Wizards. In limited minutes off the bench, the reserve big man averaged 6.6 PPG and 3.6 RPG, using his hustle and inside game to grab rebounds and get to the line.

Tyler Zeller, C - The 40-42 Boston Celtics have had quite a year. They traded Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green, brought in Isaiah Thomas, and reached the Playoffs even though they were "tanking". Former No. 17 overall pick Tyler Zeller (10.2 PPG and 5.7 RPG) produced steadily all year, proving particularly effective in the pick-and-roll. 


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