The NBA has had such a huge number of amazing players and legends through its illustrious history that sometimes certain guys go unnoticed despite being incredibly talented. One of the most notable underrated guys in NBA history is Rod Strickland, and Gary Payton explained why he has immense respect for "Hot Rod."
Best non-All-Star ever?
When talking about some of the best players to never make the All-Star team, Rod Strickland's name has to come up quickly. The 6'3'' point guard spent his 17-year career playing for a lot of teams, but his best days were in Washington and Portland.
The shifty handle and scoring ability made Strickland a fan-favorite and matchup nightmare. Although he was well respected and regarded amongst his peers, Strickland never managed to make that leap to stardom and become a star.
For years Rod would be consistent, and in the 1997-1998 season, Rod would have the best year of his career. Strickland averaged 17.8 ppg and 10.5 apg for the 42-20 Wizards. That would make him the assist leader, rewarded with All-NBA honors. But it was still not enough to make the All-Star team, which was pretty controversial at the time.
Gary Payton's toughest underrated matchup
Maybe Strickland didn't get the recognition he deserved from the media, but his opponents knew how good he was. In an interview with Colin Cowherd, one of the best defenders and point guards in NBA history, Gary Payton, gave Rod his roses.
Colin was interested if GP has that underrated guy that gave him trouble in his career, despite not being the biggest name, and Payton didn't hesitate a second:
"Rod Strickland. By far. Was a great point guard...He was getting to the paint whenever he felt like it and strong, very strong. He was really crafty. And you thought that you could do things to him, but you couldn't. You couldn't guard him like that. He was so underrated, and he didn't make the All-Star team, but he was good. In my office, I got Rod Strickland's jersey up because I respect him that much."
Gary Payton, The Volume
It's pretty nice to hear a legend like Gary Payton share such prominent compliments for Strickland. The fans loved his flashy style of play, scoring prowess, and playmaking ability from the point guard position, but it never resulted in a championship or All-Star appearance. But that doesn't mean he is not one of the sneakiest NBA talents that didn't get enough recognition from the world.