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10 NBA Players That Surprised Us And Exploded This Season

Rodney McGruder 1 41144

Entering this season, we all had high expectations for some of our favorite players, but we didn’t care much for those young guys that have been kind of snubbed or let behind in their development.

Moreover, there are some few young ballers we know have what it takes to make in this league, but that still fail to take a step forward and prove their worth as everybody expects them to do out of the gate.

More surprisingly, there are several players that we don’t actually expect to be that great, and wind up taking the league for assault when we weren’t even sure who they were. Today, we’re going to let you know about some players that have surprised us so far.

10. Zach LaVine

Zach LaVine

We all knew Zach LaVine is a pure scorer and the fact that he can really pile up stats, but we didn’t think he was bound to post like 4 straight 30+ games entering the year after an injury-plagued season.

LaVine is bound to prove that he’s got what it takes to become Chicago’s new franchise player and that the huge money the team risked on him was actually worth it, averaging 28.1 points, 5 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.4 three-pointers per game on 51% shooting.

9. Tim Hardaway Jr


Tim Hardaway Jr has never been truly consistent and he can get ice cold as fast as he gets red hot, so we’re looking at his performances with a grain of salt. Still, you can’t deny that he’s been on a roll to start the year.

Hardaway’s scoring ability has never been in doubt, and now that the team lacks a pure scorer with Kristaps Porzingis sidelined for most of the year, he’s really lived up to the task, posting averages of 24.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 3.3 three-pointers and 1 steal per game.

8. Luka Doncic


Everybody expected Luka Doncic to be good, but he’s playing like he’s been in this league for years now. Obviously, he’s not your average rookie and entered the league with a lot of professional experience, but that doesn’t make it less surprising.

Doncic hasn’t hesitated to take a big shot, has been above average in defense and proved his versatility by running the point, scoring off-ball, rebounding and shooting from all three levels, averaging 20.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 4 assists and 0.9 steals per game.

7. Josh Richardson

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Josh Richardson said last season that he wanted to lead the league in blocks, something quite ambitious for a shooting guard. Still, he’s quickly proving that he’s got what it takes to at least be in the conversation.

Richardson was already known for his defensive expertise, but now that his shot is also falling, he’s quickly and quietly surging as one of the league’s best two-way players, posting averages of 19.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1 steal and 1 block per game.

6. Trae Young

Trae Young Hawks NBA 41

We all knew consistency, turnovers and lack of defense were going to be an issue all year long for Trae Young, but truth to be told, and despite the fact that we already knew that he was an outstanding shooter, he’s been a pleasant surprise.

Young has taken a lot of big shots and even nailed a game-winning shot, already posted a 30+ point 10+ assists double-double and has quietly put his doubters at ease. So far, he’s averaged 19.6 points, 6.6 assists and 2.3 three-pointers a game.

5. Bryn Forbes

Credit: USA Today

Credit: USA Today

With Danny Green heading out the door for the San Antonio Spurs, there were a lot of minutes and a starting spot up for grabs, and Bryn Forbes has been outstanding in his task to fill that void so far.

Forbes has shot the ball with efficiency and has always made the right play in both ends of the hardwood, stepping up for this new look Spurs en route to a 4-2 record, averaging 14.5 points, 1.8 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 dime per game.

4. Willie Cauley-Stein


Willie Cauley-Stein has finally stepped up as everybody expected him to do, as we all knew that he had the skill set to be one of the league’s best defensive big men with his rim protection expertise and ability to own the glass.

Now, he’s even being featured in the team’s offense regularly, scoring off pick and rolls and lobs from a red-hot De’Aaron Fox. Up to this day, the big man has posted averages of 17.4 points, 9 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game.

3. Montrezl Harrell

Montrezl Harrell Clippers

Earlier on his career, it looked like Montrezl Harrell was bound to be those tweener centers that average 15 points and 10 boards throughout his career, something of the likes of a poor man’s Nene Hilario.

Sadly, inconsistency and lack of playing time really stalled his development, but he’s truly made the most of his chances with the Clippers now, outplaying every big man on the team with his averages of 13 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.7 blocks on 64% shooting.

2. Rodney McGruder

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

Last year, Rodney McGruder was merely a role player for the Miami Heat, making just a handful of appearances with a couple of starts all year long. Today, he’s become one of the team’s focal points on offense.

The third-year shooting guard has been on a roll ever since the start of the season, being one of the most efficient scorers in the league and posting averages of 14.3 points, 6 rebounds and 3.7 dimes per game in almost 50% shooting.

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1. JaVale McGee

JaVale McGee Lakers

Well, JaVale McGee had a couple of solid seasons with the Golden State Warriors, so the fact that he’s playing well for the Lakers isn’t such a surprise. Still, the confidence and focus he’s playing with are a truly pleasant surprise.

McGee has been outstanding in the defensive end of the floor and has run the hardwood with great awareness in the offense as well. He’s finally learned how to make the most of his length to gain and maintain position, posting averages of 15.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3 blocks in just 26 minutes a night.