The rise of Chandler Parsons

To the casual observer, the NBA is mostly filled with players who have been dominating their peers their entire lives. These players are taller, faster, stronger and, ultimately, better.

The reality is the NBA isn't quite that.

Indeed, some players were simply among the best in their class through three or four years of high school then for a year or two in college before entering the NBA draft. But the vast majority of NBA players come of age a bit later. They were not necessarily top-level recruits when they entered high school (or in some cases, when they left high school), and they were not starters or stars as underclassmen while playing in college. But hard work, and perhaps a growth spurt and a filled-out physique, became these players' tickets to real success.

Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons personifies this particular type of NBA journey. He has grown from being a second-round steal (38th overall in 2011) to perhaps the most underrated player in the game today. He should be the president of the "Late Bloomers" club, and he just might be the X factor who can drive Houston toward an NBA Finals date with the Miami Heat or Indiana Pacers.

Here's a look at Parsons' basketball development and where he stacks up among the NBA's top players.