The NBA’s 14 surprise players of the 2019-20 season thus far

No NBA season ever goes as expected that’s why they play the games. If the season was preordained by ESPN talking heads, the league wouldn’t be nearly as popular as it is today.

Coming into the 2019-20 NBA season, there were a lot of expectations. Some have come to fruition (the L.A. Clippers’s success, the Celtics coming together after Kyrie’s departure, and Ja Morant as a top rookie to name a few) while there have been several surprises. In no particular order, here’s the NBA’s biggest player surprises of 2019-20 thus far.

  • Luka Doncic: The 20-year old Slovenian hasn’t just improved his play over his impressive rookie season, but he’s jumped several levels. He skipped from a star of the league to being a top player in the echelon of the LeBrons, Hardens, and Kawhi Leonards by nearly averaging a triple-double and looking like a modern day Larry Bird.
  • Kendrick Nunn: Myabe the league’s biggest surprise and definitely the most-shocking rookie performance. The undrafted Nunn has ascended as one of the top rookies in this year’s class and he’s playing and starting on a Miami Heat team that’s winning convincingly.
  • Eric Paschall: Speaking of surprise rookies, Eric Paschall was on no one’s radar. He was drafted in the second round and has played fabulously, mostly due to Golden State’s circumstances, inconsistent roster and multiple injuries. The Villanova power forward has taken advantage of that playing time and is league’s second-leading scoring rookie.  What’s even more impressive is Paschall is doing it efficiently; shooting over 50% from the field — usually unheard of with rookies scoring 15+ points a game.
  • Devin Booker: Not a surprise in terms of Booker being one of the league’s leading scorers, he’s always had that but Booker’s maturity is on full display this season. He’s showing that he can be an efficient scorer and his team can win at the same time. We’re impressed with him making the right plays, committing to defense, and taking better shots. All this has the Phoenix off-guard shooting 50-50-90 for the season.
  • Dwight Howard: This list isn’t in any order, but Dwight’s early play for the Lakers may be one of the biggest surprises. That’s because after several years as a laughingstock and journey man, he had way more broken promises that no one believed in him any longer. This season with the Lakers, he’s embraced his role and showing a fire and competitive emotion (that isn’t him whining about calls) that makes us believe in Superman again.
  • LeBron James: Let’s stick with the Lakers. Smart NBA fans wagered with this bonus code for bet365 LeBron wouldn’t fall off this season and it’s paying off. It’s not Lebron himself we’re betting against, it’s what we’ve come to expect from human nature based on everyone else. The fact of the matter is that his ability to be in peak physical shape in his mid-30’s, still dominate (and lead the league in assists) is more us giving The King props for challenging the idea that NBA superstars can’t keep up at 34 years old.
  • Luke Kennard: Wait, what? The former Dukie isn’t fast nor quick, but this crafty left-hander is putting up an efficient 16.5 points and nearly 5 assists in his third season with the Detroit Pistons. A pleasant surprise and a bright spot for the middling Motor City franchise.
  • Malcolm Brogdon: To be honest, we were one of the many critics of Brogdon winning the Rookie of the Year award. Now those that voted for him are looking prescient. Before an early season injury, Brogdon was the floor leader for the Pacers with 20 points, 8 assists and 5 rebounds on 90/50/50.
  • Andrew Wiggins: Not much to say here other than we expected this from Wiggins years ago, so he makes this list based on the fact that it took the former #1 pick five full NBA seasons to play up his potential.

  • Brandon Ingram: He’s not Kevin Durant, and that’s not a knock as Ingram is making his own mark in his own way. Ingram has shown flashes in his first couple years, but in his time with the Pelicans, he’s showing all star potential. Look for him to continue putting up 23-27 points a game until whenever Zion returns (and maybe even after).
  • Domantas Sabonis: Like Ingram, Sabonis played well last season, but I dare you to find more than five people outside of Indiana and Lithuania that expected the ground bound and brutish Sabonis to be putting up 18.6 points, 13.4 rebounds and nearly 5 assists this season.
  • Jabari Parker: Parker came into the league with much fanfare, but never lived up to those expectations. He’s since bounced around the league before finally landing with the Atlanta Hawks. This season Parker is balling out, the former #2 pick of the 2014 draft is averaging a solid 17 points shoring up offense in the loss of John Collins due to suspension.
  • Duncan Robinson: Another new, unknown player that is propelling the Miami Heat to the top of the East. The former University of Michigan player made a splash in last year’s NBA Summer League with not only his three point shooting, but his defense and ability to attack the rim. Through 17 games, Robinson is averaging 10 points on 44% from the field and 40% from three.
  • Pascal Siakam: With the loss of Leonard over the summer, we knew Siakam would step up, but very few knew he would step up this big. This year he’s averaging a full 10 more points per game while shooting on solid shooting percentages. Last year’s Most Improved Player just might win it again this year, and not only that, he’s an early contender as league MVP for the 13-4 Raptors.

If media predictions determined the NBA’s destiny then the Golden State Warriors would have easily and handily won the 2019 NBA championship while the Toronto Raptors would still be without an NBA title. The Warriors were a shoe-in to win it all was what we heard all throughout last season We all now know how those predictions turned out.

 

 

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