The Derrick White All-Stars: O.G. Anunoby, Alex Caruso, Aaron Gordon lead list of NBA’s best role players

Derrick White has a great case for making the All-Star team. He’s one of the best guard defenders in the league, he’s on the best team and he is a glue guy who can nail big 3-pointers. 

The one thing holding White — and many other players like him — back is that he doesn’t score a lot of points. Over the last 10 years, 86 percent of All-Stars have averaged more than White’s 16.5 points per game. In other words, it’s almost impossible to make the team unless you are a big bucket-getter. 

Voters tend to focus on those easy statistical thresholds when making their selections, but that leaves out a ton of winners that do all of the other stuff, like White. Those players deserve recognition, too, so I’m giving it to them here.

In honor of White and players of his ilk, here are 10 Derrick White All-Stars — the best players in the league who are averaging less than his 17 points per game. 

MORE: How Thunder became NBA’s dark horse contender

Derrick White Backcourt All-Stars

Alex Caruso, Bulls

Caruso finally got some recognition for his defensive prowess last season, getting named to the All-Defensive First Team. He’s been just as good this season, locking down stars at key moments and generating turnovers with crazy hustle plays

What has made this season even more special for him is that he’s become a legitimate two-way player. Teams used to leave him open because, while he shot a decent percentage, he wasn’t willing to pull the trigger often enough.

Caruso has made that strategy unviable this season. He’s shooting a career-high 42.6 percent from 3, averaging double-digits in points for the first time in his career and has hit a ton of clutch shots that have single-handedly won the Bulls some games. 

Derrick White, Celtics

White has found numerous ways to contribute to the Celtics’ dominant season. He can do some secondary ball handling, he is a killer 41.8 percent 3-point shooter and he sets up his teammates nicely.

His defensive impact is terrific, too — he’s one of the best shot-blocking guards in the league. 

White has filled the void left by Marcus Smart as one of the main heartbeats of the team. He makes winning plays that far exceed his box score statistics, as is evidenced by his top 15 standing in numerous advanced metrics such as Estimated Plus-Minus

Jrue Holiday, Celtics

Holiday made last year’s All-Star Game but will likely be squeezed out this year. Due to a reduction in offensive role, his points per game are down from 19.3 to 12.8.

Don’t let the box score stats fool you — he’s one of the best No. 5 options in NBA history and his 3-point percentage has climbed up to a career-high 41.7 percent while playing next to such talented teammates. 

Holiday, of course, brings elite perimeter defense to the table as well. He’s one of the strongest guards in the league and has shut down some of the elite wings on a nightly basis. He’s also quarterbacking the Celtics’ 2-3 zone in a spot usually reserved for centers, showing how special he is as a defender. 

Jalen Suggs, Magic

Suggs looked headed toward draft-bust status after his first two years in the league. He’s recreated himself in his third year as a defensive stopper and energy player for the Magic.

He’s greatly improved his shooting percentages as well, up to 45.9 percent from the field and 39.9 percent from 3. He’s been a big part of the Magic’s success this season and should be in the Most Improved Player conversation. 

Fred VanVleet, Rockets

VanVleet was underappreciated in Toronto because of a tendency to hold the ball and his mediocre shooting percentages. His 3-pointer has recovered in Houston, where he’s hit 39.8 percent of his 3s this season, and he’s averaging a career-high 8.5 assists. He and Alperen Sengun have been the biggest reasons for the team’s turnaround from cellar-dweller to playoff team. 

He’s a great leader, a tough-nosed defender, and brings intelligence and hustle to his teams. He probably won’t make another All-Star game to go along with his selection in 2022, but he’s worth way more than his raw box score statistics indicate. 

Derrick White Frontcourt All-Stars

Anthony Edwards Rudy Gobert Minnesota Timberwolves

Rudy Gobert, Timberwolves

Gobert is the massive front-runner to win his fourth Defensive Player of the Year award. It would be well-deserved.

After a down year, Gobert has recovered to lead the Wolves’ No. 1 defense. He is among the best rim protectors in the game, averaging 2.0 blocks per contest. Opponents are shooting an astounding 13.8 percentage points worse than expected against him at the basket, per Crafted NBA, ranking in the 95th percentile of all players. 

Gobert’s offense definitely lags behind his defense. He has rough hands and he can’t create much for himself. But he has maintained good chemistry with Mike Conley, and he’s pitched in with a ton of offensive rebounds. His game isn’t the pretty type that voters flock to, but it is very effective. 

Aaron Gordon, Nuggets

Gordon is a perfect example of the type of player that makes this team. He’s willingly sacrificed his scoring and on-ball creation from his Magic days. He cost himself any likelihood of being an All-Star in doing so, but he’s massively impacted winning, guarding any player that the team needs him to, covering for teammates with excellent rotations and becoming one of the most dangerous cutters in the league. 

Gordon has put his own game on the back burner to become the perfect fit next to Nikola Jokic. Without his dirty work, the Nuggets don’t win a championship. 

Keegan Murray, Kings

Murray came into the league as a natural scorer with great feel. He’s added even more to his game this season, quietly turning into the best frontcourt defender on the Kings. He’s shut down some of the better scorers in the league and taken on harder assignments. 

Murray’s also added a little more playmaking juice to his bag this season. He’s even broken out some post-ups after telling Mike Brown to watch his college highlights on YouTube. He’s turning into a very good two-way wing and one of the more unheralded young players in the league. 

O.G. Anunoby, Knicks

Anunoby looks reinvigorated after getting moved to the Knicks to start the New Year. Since then, he’s been one of the leaders in plus/minus

Anunoby’s best trait is his defense, which looked like it was waning in intensity on a mediocre Raptors team. He’s as locked in as ever in New York, taking on assignments ranging from Anthony Edwards to Rudy Gobert. He’s one of the most versatile defenders in the league, and he’s a fantastic help defender. 

He doesn’t provide quite as much value on offense — his decision-making, shot creation and movement shooting are fairly limited. But he’s a great finisher with explosive leaping ability and he hits open 3s. While those aren’t traits that you typically ascribe to stardom, they help win games. 

Trey Murphy III, Pelicans

There might not be a better motion shooter in the league than Murphy. He missed the start of the season with a torn meniscus but immediately started canning 3s upon his return, hitting 42.3 percent of them through his first 12 games. 

Murphy is more than just a 3-point specialist, though. He’s started putting the ball down on the floor a little bit more, and his defense has improved since his rookie year. He very well could make the real team in a few years. 

Honorable Mention: Evan Mobley, Chris Paul, Austin Reaves, Immanuel Quickley, Al Horford, Nic Claxton, Dereck Lively II, Brook Lopez, Jarrett Allen

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