NBA 2020-21: 5 Role players that are having an outstanding season

De'Andre Hunter of the Atlanta Hawks looks on during a game against the Orlando Magic at the State Farm Arena.
De'Andre Hunter of the Atlanta Hawks looks on during a game against the Orlando Magic at the State Farm Arena.

The 2020-21 NBA season has seen some terrific performances from role players helping their teams on a nightly basis. These unsung heroes represent the best part of the game β€” playing team basketball.

The tag of a role player can change for younger talent with time - more experience will allow them to take a leap and become stars in their own right. Then there are the yesteryear stars who have accepted their new roles to win the grand prize.


NBA 2020-21: 5 Role players that are having an outstanding season

Every team aspiring to take things to the next level is dependent on their role players to get them there. Even the league's brightest stars can't get the job done without the rest of the cast playing their part to perfection. On this note, let's look at the five role players striving hard to make their teams better this season.


De'Andre Hunter (Atlanta Hawks)

De'Andre Hunter of the Atlanta Hawks dribbles during warmups before the first half against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. 
De'Andre Hunter of the Atlanta Hawks dribbles during warmups before the first half against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center.

No one would have expected to see second-year player De'Andre Hunter take on a bigger role with the Hawks this season. But his stellar play has compelled Atlanta to switch things up. Hunter has solidified his place in the starting lineup and is playing 32 minutes per appearance.

The 23-year-old is working hard on both ends of the floor with focus and energy, putting him in the limelight.

Not only is he generating more offense for the Hawks, but he and Clint Capela are also making strides defensively. The duo are helping the Atlanta Hawks match up better on the floor.

This season, Hunter is averaging 16.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 1.9 assists in thirteen games so far. He is shooting a lights out 50% from the field and 40% from downtown.


Willie Cauley-Stein (Dallas Mavericks)

Willie Cauley-Stein of the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center.
Willie Cauley-Stein of the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center.

Willie Cauley-Stein has bolstered the Dallas Mavericks' front-line with his stellar play. His ability to roll to the basket and finish with high accuracy is a boon for his backcourt partner, Luka Doncic.

Cauley-Stein is inducing high energy into every game and demands attention from opposing teams, which helps free up his teammates.

His numbers on defense don't represent his capabilities on that end of the hardwood, as Cauley-Stein has been hustling to cover players with lockdown defense in crunch time. This campaign is the perfect time for Cauley-Stein to level up and become one of the league's premier centers.

He is averaging 6.5 points, 5.7 rebounds in 14 games in his first stint as a starter. Additionally, Cauley-Stein is shooting the ball 59% from the field.

Chris Boucher (Toronto Raptors)

Chris Boucher of the Toronto Raptors takes a knee during the national anthem before the start of a game against the Brooklyn Nets.
Chris Boucher of the Toronto Raptors takes a knee during the national anthem before the start of a game against the Brooklyn Nets.

Chris Boucher is having a breakout season with the Toronto Raptors and is posting the highest averages of his career. He is providing them a spark off the bench and is filling up the stat sheet, especially when the Raptors need it the most β€” during one of their droughts.

The Raptors suffered not one but two blows in the off-season, with Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol taking their talents elsewhere, leaving them severely depleted in that department. Boucher has stepped in and is taking care of business on a nightly basis.

The big man is showing off his all-round skills as he blocks shots, makes the long-range trey, and runs the floor in what is turning out to be a spirited campaign. Boucher is averaging 15.5 points, 6.6 rebounds on a whopping 59% shooting from the floor, and an impressive 48% from the beyond the arc.


Nicolas Batum (Los Angeles Clippers)

Nicolas Batum of the LA Clippers brings up the ball during a Clippers win over the Indiana Pacers at Staples Center.
Nicolas Batum of the LA Clippers brings up the ball during a Clippers win over the Indiana Pacers at Staples Center.

Nicolas Batum is a veteran who has played the game at the highest level. Using Batum as a starter with Paul George and Kawhi Leonard has done wonders for the new-look LA Clippers this season. In addition to Batum, Serge Ibaka coming in as the primary center has given the Clippers a new identity this season.

Batum does not let adversity affect his game and continues to make the right play on both ends of the hardwood. The LA Clippers were a disaster in the playoffs last season, and this where Batum's presence in the team will come in handy. He can help them navigate through a long series that will require maturity and patience.

Batum is having a great season and is playing efficient basketball. In 15 games, he is averaging 9.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 2.5 assists on 49% shooting from the floor and 43% shooting from beyond the arc. Batum could be the difference-maker for LA in the postseason later in the year.


Damion Lee (Golden State Warriors)

Stephen Curry talks to Damion Lee of the Golden State Warriors in a game against the Toronto Raptors.
Stephen Curry talks to Damion Lee of the Golden State Warriors in a game against the Toronto Raptors.

Damion Lee has stepped up big time for the Golden State Warriors this season. Lee has become a reliable option from beyond the arc and is getting some attention from the coaching staff.

It all started with his game-winning shot back in December 2020 that saved the Warriors from losing their fourth straight game to open the season.

It's no secret that except for Curry, the Warriors' starting five has been struggling on the offensive end of the hardwood. And this is where someone like Damion Lee can help Curry make threes and stretch the floor.

This season, Lee is averaging 6.0 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in 18 minutes from the bench.

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