In basketball, you might call someone a "banger" if they are willing to get under the basket and take a lot of tough physical contact from other players. Which seems like a compliment until you notice that nobody who can actually, you know, shoot, ever gets called a "banger" no matter how much pushing they do in the paint.
Via Keith Allison
Dirk Nowitzki -- proof that Neanderthals mated with modern humans? Perhaps. Banger? No.
Basically they're evading the implied question of, "Is he a good player?" by answering, "Well, uh, he works really hard and is OK with getting hit a lot."
Occasionally, you get someone trying to throw role-players a bone by saying they "can be stars in their own way" or are an Important Part of the Team, really! Which I would think is worse than being ignored.