Expectations can either lift you up or kill you, especially if you’re a National Basketball Association player or at least intend to stay on a team’s roster for the long run without being cut or constantly sent to the Development League.
The prior campaign, we saw some very interesting things about some low profile players, but they’ve completely outplayed their current expectations after a couple of months into this new NBA season so far.
We expected really nice things out of some of them this season, but they have still managed to impress us, while others were really looking like flukes until they finally stepped up this season. Today, we’re going to let you know about the top 7 guys that have impressed us so far.
7. TJ Warren
18.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 30.9 MPG this season
14.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 31 MPG last season
Even though TJ Warren’s numbers haven’t changed much from the past season, he’s been way more productive in the intangibles for the struggling Phoenix Suns this season, being much more of a consistent scorer and improving his defensive skills as well to become a very decent wing stopper and the second best player in the desert right now behind Devin Booker.
6. Jonathon Simmons
14.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 27.5 MPG this season
6.2 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 17.8 MPG last season
Jonathon Simmons had already impressed us a lot since making the San Antonio Spurs first team, and he proved to be lethal against slowest, less athletic second unit defenders, something that granted him a huge deal with the Orlando Magic. So far, he’s shown that they were right to trust him, and even though he’s still not playing big minutes, he’s filled the stat sheet and proven that he belongs in the NBA for sure.
5. Jeremy Lamb
15.3 points, 5 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 28.1 MPG this season
9.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 18.4 MPG last season
Jeremy Lamb was looking like a major bust that wouldn’t be able to produce at this level until Nicolas Batum fell down with an injury and he had to step up. Now, he’s a crucial part of the Hornets’ rotation and has shown a lot of improvement, especially when it comes to shooting the ball with consistency. This season, he’s been one of the team’s lone bright spots, and he’s becoming a way more conscious players that can do a little bit of everything instead of just a shooter.
4. Donovan Mitchell
17.2 points, 3 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.4 steals, 41% FG, 37% FG3, 29.2 MPG this season
If it wasn’t for Ben Simmons, Donovan Mitchell would be the obvious choice to win Rookie of the Year this season, taking the league for assault and even earning a starting spot early in the season for the Utah Jazz. His defense, playmaking and consistency have been really impressive and it looks like Utah may have finally found the scorer they’ve so desperately craved the past couple of years, and he’s looking like the biggest steal in this year’s Draft after being drafted 13th overall.
3. Jaylen Brown
14.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 31.4 MPG this season
6.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 17.2 MPG last season
Jaylen Brown is one of the biggest frontrunners for most improved players this season for sure after stepping up with Gordon Hayward’s heartbreaking injury. Brown has been outstanding in both ends of the floor and even though he’s still have to do a better job setting his teammates up, he’s looking like a star in the making and one of the main reasons of the Celtics’ great run this year.
2. Tyreke Evans
17.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4 assists, 29.3 MPG this season
11.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 22.4 MPG last season
Tyreke Evans is finally looking like the player we all thought he would become when he first entered the league, being perhaps the lone valuable asset besides Marc Gasol in the Grizzlies right now. Despite his team’s struggles, Evans has been terrific this year and has posted very impressive stat lines, and his groove and scoring touch finally seems to be back after some failed stints with the Kings and Pelicans.
1. Victor Oladipo
23.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 33.4 MPG this season
15.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 33.2 MPG last season
Coming back home was definitely the right move for Victor Oladipo, and he’s taken the reins of a young Indiana Pacers squad that has been way more impressive than we all expected entering the campaign. Finally out of the mediocrity spiral the Magic was and not having to share touches with Russell Westbrook, he’s showing the best of his game and the reason why he went 2nd overall out of Indiana U not so long ago, improving in every area of this game and being the frontrunner to win the MIP award this campaign.
Unless otherwise cited, all stats are courtesy of NBA.com or Basketball Reference and current leading into games on Dec. 8.