Expectations are a two-way street and sometimes people get extremely disappointed when they put a lot of hype and hopes in some youngsters that just aren’t as good are expected or take a while to blossom.
On the other hand, sometimes players that were considered average or busts shut their doubters up with outstanding play, outplaying their Draft position and even making some GM’s regret to have move them or passed on them.
This campaign has gotten off to a terrific start with a lot of surprises taking place on a nightly basis, including some guys’ performances throughout the first couple of weeks of the regular season.
That’s why today, we’re going to let you know about the top 10 guys that have definitely outplayed the expectations so far, hoping they can keep this kind of momentum going throughout 82 games.
10. Jakob Poeltl
Jakob Poeltl looked pretty much like a bust during his rookie season but has definitely taken a step forward this year as one of the few healthy guys in the Raptors’ frontcourt, backing up Serge Ibaka while Valanciunas is sidelined.
The sophomore big man has averaged over 20 minutes per game while scoring 8.5 points and grabbing 8 boards in over 60% from the floor and 62% from the line, something that would translate to 14.9 points and 14 rebounds per 36 minutes.
9. Patrick Beverley
Beverley has never been known for his offensive repertoire or contributions, but that’s mainly because he has played alongside James Harden for most of his career, and now that he’s a member of the Los Angeles Clippers, he’s been an unexpected contributor on the offensive end.
The fierce defender is averaging career highs in points and field goal percentage and has shown a lot of chemistry with his new teammates, holding onto the starting point guard gig with Milos Teodosic sidelined, averaging 2.6 steals per game so far.
8. Domantas Sabonis
The Oklahoma City Thunder gave up on Domantas Sabonis to land Paul George despite how well he had played during the first passages of the prior campaign, and he hasn’t hesitated to prove his worth on a Pacers squad needed of points down low with Myles Turner injured.
Domantas’ offensive arsenal is pretty complete and even though he’s not Porzingis (or even close to what his father was), he’s been extremely efficient from all over the floor this season, averaging 13 points and 10 boards to go along with 2.2 assists in over 67% shooting.
7. LaMarcus Aldridge
LaMarcus Aldridge has really stepped up in Kawhi Leonard’s absence, leading the San Antonio Spurs in scoring with his averages of 23.6 points (a career high) and almost 9 rebounds per contest throughout 7 games.
Of course, it’s not surprising that a veteran All-Star plays well, but considering all the noise surrounding him and his poor relationship with Popovich and desire to leave the team, this bounce-back season has come as a pleasant surprise.
6. Lauri Markkanen
Way before he made his professional debut, a lot of people was already saying that Lauri Markkanen was a major bust and that he’d be more of a Bargnani than a Porzingis. Gladly for Bulls fans, he proved them wrong during the last FIBA Eurobasket and hasn’t missed a beat since then.
Markkanen has gotten a lot of praise for his sweet shooting stroke, even by LeBron James himself, and he’s averaging 17.4 points and 10.7 rebounds on 43% from the floor and 41% from beyond the arc per 36 minutes, some pretty impressive numbers considering how poorly coached the team is and that he’s giving up shots to some teammates that aren’t even going to last in the league for long.
5. Donovan Mitchell
The Utah Jazz rookie was extremely impressive during the Summer League and the preseason, proving that he wasn’t afraid to step up with the Jazz in desperate need for some scoring, even proving to be a valuable asset on the defensive end as well.
Mitchell has had some really good outings when the Jazz has been shorthanded due to Hood’s injuries, and even though he’s struggled with consistency, his per 36 minutes averages are very sweet at 15.1 points, 2.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.9 steals and 0.9 blocks per game at the shooting guard spot.
4. Tobias Harris
Tobias Harris has long time been extremely underrated, as the forward has always been very productive all over the stat sheet but just doesn’t get the credit that’s due, mainly because the Detroit Pistons have sucked for the last 5 years or so.
Still, Harris is one of the main reasons why the team has gotten off to such a great start of this campaign, averaging 20.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.3 dimes in almost 50% from the floor and 46% from three-point territory.
3. Aaron Gordon
Most people were expecting a breakout year from Aaron Gordon and it seems they’re in for a treat, with the forward finally shifting back to his natural position and even having the green light to push up-tempo and run the Magic offense in open court when he feels like it.
Gordon put up a lot of work on his jumper and even attended sport psychology sessions and it seems like they definitely paid off, hitting from all over the floor with a lot of consistency and recording averages of 21 points, 9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 0.8 steals and a block per game in 54% from the floor and 59% from three-point land.
2. Otto Porter Jr
Otto Porter Jr has been one of the few players that have quietly improved on a yearly basis and it feels like he's reaching his peak this season, picking a lot of the slack that John Wall has left in scoring so far and even showing a lot of defensive upsides as well.
Entering his 5th NBA season, the Georgetown product is currently averaging 18.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2 assists and 2.7 steals per game in 55% from the floor and 51% from three, all career highs and being a prime candidate for Most Improved Player of the Year.
1. Victor Oladipo
And by far the most impressive player (considering expectations) so far this season has seen Victor Oladipo, and it feels like going back home to where he played his college career has really suited him well and that he’s keen to prove the Magic and Thunder wrong when they gave up on him.
As a matter of fact, Oladipo’s outplaying Paul George in pretty much every aspect of the game, averaging 25.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.8 steals per game on 50% from the floor, 46% from three and 88% from the line compared to George’s 19.5, 4.7, 2.5 and 2.7 on 42%, 38% and 93%.