It seems every NBA season nowadays, fans can predict the majority of players who will perform well, even naming players who will be the ones to score 50+ points during the season or rack up an insane triple-double.
But, being the NBA, the unexpected can occur — it’s one of the main reasons fans tune in, just in case a historic moment takes place right before their eyes — and when it does, it sends the NBA world crazy.
Join us as we count down 10 of the most unexpected performances of the current NBA season so far.
10. Victor Oladipo
After a relatively disappointing season playing second fiddle to Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City, Victor Oladipo was traded to the Indiana Pacers in the offseason. In his return to the state where he dominated college basketball, Oladipo has amazed everyone while keeping the Pacers in the playoff race.
Oladipo has improved in nearly every statistical category since last season and is going to be an All-Star. He’s averaging a career high in points per game (24.3), but no one saw him scoring a career-high 47 points while putting up seven rebounds and six assists against the Denver Nuggets on December 10.
9. Khris Middleton
It’s easy to forget about Khris Middleton, the former second round pick who missed a majority of the 2016-17 NBA season with a hamstring injury. In the small market of Milwaukee, he’s quickly overshadowed by big-name teammates such as MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo and newcomer Eric Bledsoe.
His slow start to this season made things worse, as he only averaged 16.0 ppg on 20.0 three-point field goal % throughout the first seven games of the season. Middleton’s surprised everyone with a career-high explosion of 43 points, coupled with seven assists and five rebounds against the Charlotte Hornets on November 1. 21 days later, Middleton had another 40-point performance in a win against the Phoenix Suns.
8. T.J. Warren
T.J. Warren’s story is almost identical to Middleton.
Warren plays alongside a young star in Devin Booker, except on a much worse team in Phoenix, and gets little attention nationally. His slow start throughout the first seven games of the year (14.8 ppg, 12.5 3P%) was cause for concern until he, similar to Middleton, erupted on November 1 against the Washington Wizards.
Warren posted a career-high 40 points along with 10 rebounds, on 16-22 shooting.
7. Kyle Kuzma
Kyle Kuzma was undoubtedly the steal of the already-loaded 2017 NBA Draft. The 27th overall pick has surpassed all expectations as he leads the Lakers in scoring at 16.5 ppg and is a frontrunner for Rookie of the Year.
On December 20, he scored a career-high 38 points on 7-of-10 three-point shooting and ended the Houston Rockets 14 game winning streak. If you were told at the draft that he would score 38 points throughout the course of the season, much less one game, you’d be skeptical.
6. Terrance Ferguson
Another rookie on this list, Terrance Ferguson has season averages of 2.6 ppg and .7 rebounds per game and had never surpassed more than 7 points in a game. He’s struggled to find consistent minutes on a team expected to win-now with Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony.
On January 3, Ferguson scored a career-high 24 points on 6-of-9 three-point shooting to lead the Thunder to a 133-96 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
5. Enes Kanter
Enes Kanter is putting together a great season in New York, averaging a near double-double with 13.6 ppg and 9.9 rpg. He’s a fan favorite and has been on the record saying he wants to end his career with the Knicks.
Still, no one expected Kanter to post a season-high 31 points and tie his career-high of 22 rebound against the rival Philadelphia 76ers on Christmas Day. Kanter joins NBA legends Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, and Bob Lanier as the only players with 30-20 games on Christmas.
4. Tyreke Evans
Tyreke Evans had a rocky season last year with New Orleans, averaging career lows in points, rebounds, and assists, before being traded back to Sacramento.
Evans had a solid start to the year, but still surprised everyone in the eighth game of the season when he scored a season-best 32 points against the Orlando Magic, the first time the former ROY scored at least 30 since December of 2014.
The game marked the return of the old Tyreke Evans, as he averages 19.7 ppg, 4.9 apg, and 5.2 rpg. He’s a definite candidate for Most Improved Player.
3. Lou Williams
Throughout his 11 years in the NBA, Lou Williams has been best known for being a solid contributor off the bench and a Sixth Man of the Year candidate no matter what team he plays on. Yet, in his age-31 season, Williams is averaging career highs in points (23.2) and assists(5.0) as a starter for the Los Angeles Clippers.
On January 10, Williams became the fourth player this season to score at least 50 points. He scored a career-high 50 points with 7 assists in a 125-106 victory. What made the performance even more unexpected was the fact that it came against the Golden State Warriors, who are ranked fourth in defensive efficiency (102.9).
2. Nikola Vučević
To be completely honest, I had no idea Nikola Vucevic existed until I heard of what he’d done. That should give you an idea of how unexpected his game was.
In just the second game of the season, he scored a career-high 41 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in a loss to the Brooklyn Nets. Even if the Orlando Magic organization and fans knew he was capable of this type of performance, they would not have expected this so early in the season.
1. Rajon Rondo
Whether it be due to conflicts with coaches or teammates, Rajon Rondo is on his fifth team in the past five years, struggling to find a permanent home. Rondo signed with New Orleans on a one-year, $3.3 million contract, expected to be a playmaker for the team alongside Jrue Holiday in the backcourt.
Rondo is known for his stellar passing, yet it shocked everyone in the NBA to find out he broke the Pelicans’ franchise record for assists and would become the seventh player in NBA history with 25 assists in a single game against the Nets. The last time a player had 25 assists in a game was Jason Kidd, who did so in 1996.