Five under-the-radar players

Time to take notice of Jimmy Butler, Earl Clark and Nikola Vucevic

Originally Published: January 31, 2013
By Amin Elhassan | ESPN Insider
Jimmy ButlerAP Photo/Nam Y. HuhJimmy Butler has filled in nicely with Luol Deng injured and the departure of other wings.

There's always an urge in the NBA to judge young players as though they were finished products, neglecting to take into account that there are factors that delay the realization of potential.

For some, it's because there's some development that needs to take place; for others, the team roster or style of play may not be a good fit. Steve Nash played barely 10 minutes a game his rookie year, as Kevin Johnson and Jason Kidd dominated playing time in the backcourt, and even the most optimistic Suns fan would not have envisioned the rarely used rookie from Santa Clara would one day be a two-time MVP.

It not only took a good deal of personal development on Nash's part, but also moving to an organization that believed in his talents and made available the playing time for him to prove himself.

Along those lines, here are five players who didn't play much earlier in their careers who are now getting a chance to showcase their talents and making the most of it.

Jimmy Butler | Small forward | Chicago Bulls

Career MPG coming into 2012-13: 8.5
2012-13 MPG: 20.7 | January MPG: 25.9

Coming out of Marquette, Butler was a high IQ, versatile wing with a defensive tenacity that made him a natural fit for Tom Thibodeau's Bulls. Still, he was stuck behind a crowded wing rotation of Ronnie Brewer, Luol Deng, Rip Hamilton and Kyle Korver. With the departures of Brewer and Korver, and injuries to Deng and Hamilton, Butler has had the opportunity to get minutes as a defensive stopper and energy guy, and as such has earned a spot in the rotation.