Blazers rookie already considered one of most underrated players in NBA by peers

A surprising Portland rookie was voted as one of the league's most underrated in a new NBA player poll.
Toumani Camara, Portland Trail Blazers
Toumani Camara, Portland Trail Blazers / Amanda Loman/GettyImages

The finalists for the 2023-24 NBA Awards were announced on April 21. The three finalists are voted on by sportswriters and broadcasters. These awards - MVP, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, etc. - are significant, career-altering honors.

But when you're considered one of the best by your fellow NBA players, it presumably hits differently. That's the case for two members of this year's Portland Trail Blazers, including a rookie who wasn't expected to play any meaningful minutes at all, let alone be impactful enough to garner league-wide attention.

Toumani Camara voted as one of NBA's most underrated players

A yearly poll published by The Athletic reveals who NBA players - not media members - consider to be the league's MVP, best defender, best coach, the player you'd most want to start a franchise with, and other topics. Trail Blazers rookie Toumani Camara has already caught the eye of his peers.

Camara wasn't voted as the most underrated player in the league. Boston Celtics guard Derrick White and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Jalen Williams topped the list. But Toumani did soak up 1.6 percent of the votes, the same amount as teammate Anfernee Simons and much more established players such as Cleveland's Darius Garland, New York's Jalen Brunson and Philadlephia's Tyrese Maxey.

Not bad company for a player who was drafted with the 52nd pick last summer.

Camara had an unexpectedly impactful 2023-24 campaign

Although Blazers Head Coach Chauncey Billups sang Camara's praises during the preseason, it felt unlikely he would be a major piece of Portland's rotation. Well, he averaged nearly 25 minutes across 70 games, 49 of which were starts. He was seemingly a throw-in piece of the three-team Damian Lillard trade but became one of the team's most important players.

His averages of 7.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.4 stocks (steals plus blocks) don't leap off the stat page, but he was an impactful rotation player as a long, strong, versatile defender and glue guy.

And while 23-year-old rookies almost always enter the league considered as finished products, Camara's late-season 3-point shooting improvement is a sign he's not done growing. He shot under 34 percent from deep on the year but hit almost 46 percent of his 2.3 attempts per game over his last 25 contests.


The 6-foot-8 Belgian solidified himself as a member of Portland's future core. If he becomes a legitimate threat from three and continues to defend the way he did this season, he could end up a member of the Trail Blazers' future starting five.