These 8 NBA players have improved to superstar or all-star status this season

Tim Hardaway jr ,Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon are three of the NBA's most improved this season

Not including the talented and surprising play of this season’s rookies, there’s been a lot of players that have stepped up their game this season. Whether they’ve just improved over the off-season or thriving on a different team, these 8 players haven’t been your normal superstars and household names. This season has seen some of these player cement themselves as stars in the league, and some players have improved their game to a point of all-star consideration.

Wow, Who Are You?!

Giannis Antetokounmpo Yes,the Greek Freak didn’t come out of nowhere but even with his all-star play last season, he’s taken his game a couple levels higher than last season. Currently sitting at #2 to James Harden for the scoring leader, Antetokounmpo isn’t just averaging nearly 30 points, but his Bucks are in the top four in the Eastern Conference. This season has proven that Giannis is going to be a superstar player the league will have to reckon with for the next decade plus.

Victor Oladipo Oladipo‘s strengths are in his ability to create his own shots. Playing with OKC last season wasn’t a good fit for the shooting guard. Now with the Indiana Pacers, he’s having a great time hitting big shots while averaging 23.6 points — by far the most in his career. The Pacers were supposed to be one of the worst teams in the league after trading Paul George away, instead Oladipo has the Pacers at 5th in the Eastern Conference and will most-certainly get his first all-star berth.

Aaron Gordon Some time between last season and this one, something clicked with Gordon. The high flying swing man is no longer just making waves with his periodic highlight dunks, but he’s an actual offensive threat for the Orlando Magic. This season, he’s averaging a surprising 18.5 points and 8.1 rebounds, while knocking down threes at an impressive 40% clip.

More Minutes, More Shots

Joel Embiid Like Antetokoumpo, Embiid has shown flashes and has been a rising star over the last couple seasons. The difference is that Embiid is actually on the court for a much more consistent amount of time now. Those increased minutes have resulted in averaging a double-double at 23.5 points and 11 rebounds and a career high 46 points against the Lakers. Teaming with Ben Simmons, the duo makes the Philadelphia 76ers a formidable opponent and an exciting team to watch.

Kristaps Porzingis Though his scoring has dipped a little recently, Porzingis is thriving without Carmelo Anthony in New York. At 25 points per game he’s right behind Kevin Durant in scoring and is averaging more points than established scorers in Anthony Davis and Kyrie Irving. Of the top ten leading scorers in the league, Porzingis averages the fewest minutes per game at barely 32 minutes.

Stepping Up

Khris Middleton Throughout his career, Middleton has always been a three point threat, but the lanky partner to Antetokounmpo, is really finding his range this season. Middleton has found his game to the tune of 20 points per game and in among the league’s to 25 scorers. If he can keep it up and the Bucks can continue winning, Middleton will be a serious candidate to be an all-star this year. Who would have thunk?

D’Angelo Russell – This is a classic player-gets-traded-and-thrives scenario, D’Angelo is averaging nearly 21 points for the Brooklyn Nets. Though he’s been injured of late, in the 12 games that he has played, he’s already shooting a significantly better percentage than he ever did with the Lakers. He’s also averaging the most assists and rebounds despite playing about one minute fewer per game.

Tim Hardaway Jr. – He may not be shooting very well, but Hardaway Jr. is another player that’s thriving on the Melo-less Knicks. In his second stint with the Knicks, Hardaway Jr. has improved his scoring, rebounding, assists, and steal averages across the board. Teamed with Kristaps Porzingis, the two are developing a great one-two punch. On the season, the 6-6 guard is averaging 17.5 points.

Other players that have stepped up this season include TJ Warren (for his scoring), Eric Gordon (leading the Houston bench with nearly 20 ppg), Tobias Harris (for a vastly-improved Pistons team), Devin Booker (somehow even more of a confident scorer this season) and LeBron James.

Wait, how can we include LeBron James even if it’s honorable mention? Simple, even though he’s the best player in the league, he’s taken his game to another level this season by hitting big shots, all the while averaging the most points in the last seven seasons.

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