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Fantasy Sports Fantasy Basketball

Top 10 Surprises So Far in 2012 Fantasy Basketball Season

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Fantasy Basketball 2012 Top 10 Surprises

Surprises
Kevin Jairaj-US PRESSWIRE

About a month into the 2012-13 NBA season, many teams have had surprising starts. In the Eastern Conference, the Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks and Charlotte Bobcats have all gotten off to good starts this season. In the Western Conference, the Golden State Warriors, Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets have started off their seasons better than most expected.

The same can be said for particular fantasy players. No surprise, players like Oklahoma City Thunder SF Kevin Durant, Los Angeles Lakers SG Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Clippers PG Chris Paul, Miami Heat SF/PF LeBron James and Memphis Grizzlies C Marc Gasol were expected to have great starts to the season.

As for some individuals who have been surprising for all the wrong reasons, Heat PG/SG Dwyane Wade has provided owners with fewer contributions than expected due to his early-season injury. Atlanta Hawks SF/PF Josh Smith, Lakers C Dwight Howard and Denver Nuggets PG Ty Lawson have also all started their seasons on a low note. Some players like Philadelphia 76ers C Andrew Bynum, Dallas Mavericks PF Dirk Nowitzki, Indiana Pacers SF/PF Danny Granger and New Orleans Hornets SG Eric Gordon have expectedly yet to start their seasons for their respective teams.

Here’s a look at the top 10 surprising players so far of the 2012 fantasy basketball season.

* The players’ percentage owned numbers for Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Basketball leagues and player statistics are accurate as of Thursday, November 29, 2012. MPG = Minutes Per Game, FG% = Field Goal Percentage, FT% = Free Throw Percentage, 3PTM = 3-Pointers Made, PTS = Points, REB = Rebounds, AST = Assists, STL = Steals, BLK = Blocks, TO = Turnovers.

Austin Chang is a featured columnist and fantasy sports expert at Rant Sports and you can follow him on Twitter @_austinchang.

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10. SG/SF Alonzo Gee, Cleveland Cavaliers

Gee
David Richard-US PRESSWIRE

SG/SF Alonzo Gee, Cleveland Cavaliers, 34% owned

Season averages: 33:00 MPG, .401 FG%, .875 FT%, 0.9 3PTM, 11.8 PTS, 3.7 REB, 2.1 AST, 1.7 ST, 0.5 BLK, 2.3 TO

Season-highs: 18 points, seven rebounds, six assists, four steals, three blocks

An undrafted rookie from Alabama, Gee jumped around a bit before settling down last season with the Cavaliers. This year, he has served as the team’s defensive stopper, but he has also demonstrated improved shooting with the absence of Kyrie Irving. Whether it’s points and threes on offense or steals and blocks on defense, Gee is the quintessential glue guy for any fantasy roster.

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9. PG/SG Jamal Crawford, Los Angeles Clippers

Crawford
Soobum Im-US PRESSWIRE

PG/SG Jamal Crawford, Clippers, 85% owned

Season averages: 28:48 MPG, .449 FG%, .942 FT%, 2.0 3PTM, 17.5 PTS, 1.9 REB, 1.3 AST, 1.1 ST, 0.1 BLK, 1.9 TO

Season-highs: 29 points, three rebounds, four assists, three steals, one block

Playing for his sixth team in his career, Crawford was expected to be the team’s sixth man and primary scorer off the bench in his first year with the Clippers. While he has surely proven his shot-making abilities over his career, he has been a very big asset for owners this season with his two made 3-pointers and 4.3 made free throws a game. Expect Crawford’s production to likely take a dip with the recent return of Chauncey Billups.

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8. SG/SF Jason Richardson, Philadelphia 76ers

Richardson
Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

SG/SF Jason Richardson, 76ers, 71% owned

Season averages: 28:33 MPG, .427 FG%, .778 FT%, 2.5 3PTM, 12.3 PTS, 4.0 REB, 1.1 AST, 1.7 ST, 0.7 BLK, 0.5 TO

Season-highs: 21 points, nine rebounds, three assists, four steals, three blocks

Despite missing four games this season due to injury, Richardson has had a solid bounce back year. After having disappointing numbers with the Orlando Magic last year, he has looked good as the team’s starting shooting guard. With so many other wing options on the team (Evan Turner, Dorell Wright, Nick Young), Richardson could have easily been the aging veteran lost in the mix. Instead, he has surprisingly been a valuable contributor in the 3-point shooting and steals categories.

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7. PF/C Patrick Patterson, Houston Rockets

Patterson
Kevin Jairaj-US PRESSWIRE

PF/C Patrick Patterson, Rockets, 44% owned

Season averages: 29:47 MPG, .515 FG%, .750 FT%, 0.7 3PTM, 14.2 PTS, 5.2 REB, 1.0 AST, 0.6 ST, 0.4 BLK, 1.1 TO

Season-highs: 27 points, nine rebounds, four assists, two steals, two blocks

Like Parsons, Patterson has grown thanks to his excellent opportunities with Houston. Serving as the team’s starting power forward alongside a very good defensive-minded center in Omer Asik, he has been able to focus as a scorer for the team. Greatly improving from his 7.7 points per game average from last season, Patterson has also started to become a solid 3-point shooter and be one of the unlikely surprises in this first month of the season.

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6. PG Kemba Walker, Charlotte Bobcats

Walker
Paul Abell-US PRESSWIRE

PG Kemba Walker, Bobcats, 86% owned

Season averages: 36:51 MPG, .392 FG%, .812 FT%, 0.6 3PTM, 16.5 PTS, 3.8 REB, 5.6 AST, 2.1 ST, 0.5 BLK, 2.4 TO

Season-highs: 30 points, seven rebounds, nine assists, eight steals, three blocks

Few players have made bigger strides this season than Walker, who has now become a consistent and viable fantasy option. A so-so fantasy option in his rookie season, he has grown into a more-complete leader who has improved his numbers for shooting percentages, assists and steals. Walker’s contributions have largely been the reason why the Bobcats are off to their best start in franchise history.

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5. SF/PF Carl Landry, Golden State Warriors

Landry
Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

SF/PF Carl Landry, Warriors, 61% owned

Season averages: 26:50 MPG, .595 FG%, .781 FT%, 0.0 3PTM, 14.8 PTS, 7.0 REB, 1.1 AST, 0.3 ST, 0.5 BLK, 1.9 TO

Season-highs: 23 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, one steal, two blocks

One of the few surprise players on this list who are primarily coming off the bench, Landry has really made the most of his opportunity with Golden State. In his first season with the team, he was meant to be the primary backup in a frontcourt featuring David Lee and Andrew Bogut. With Bogut missing most of the season so far, Landry has risen to the occasion and has been an unstoppable offensive player in the post and solid rebounder for the Warriors.

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4. PF/C Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs

Duncan
Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE

PF/C Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs, 100% owned

Season averages: 30:45 MPG, .529 FG%, .760 FT%, 0.1 3PTM, 18.4 PTS, 9.8 REB, 2.6 AST, 0.9 ST, 2.5 BLK, 1.4 TO

Season-highs: 26 points, 17 rebounds, six assists, three steals, five blocks

Despite being 36 years old and in his 16th NBA season, Duncan has played at an incredible level. Potentially being slowed down by wear and tear, he has exceeding all expectations and has been the best overall center-eligible player in fantasy leagues thus far. Healthy and providing in all categories, Duncan is an elite fantasy option who has averaged over 30 minutes a game for the first time since the 2009-2010 season.

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3. SF/PF Andrei Kirilenko, Minnesota Timberwolves

Kirilenko
Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE

SF/PF Andrei Kirilenko, Minnesota Timberwolves, 82% owned

Season averages: 36:22 MPG, .508 FG%, .714 FT%, 0.7 3PTM, 13.0 PTS, 7.8 REB, 3.3 AST, 1.5 ST, 1.8 BLK, 2.6 TO

Season-highs: 26 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, three steals, four blocks

Returning to the NBA after a season playing professional basketball in Russia, Kirilenko had unknown fantasy value with the Timberwolves to start the season. Despite playing very well last year, it was uncertain if he could transition back into the NBA game against elite competition. Kirilenko quickly dispelled those fears as he has been the all-around fantasy dream owners always wish to own.

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2. SG O.J. Mayo, Dallas Mavericks

Mayo
Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE

SG O.J. Mayo, Mavericks, 92% owned

Season averages: 34:41 MPG, .476 FG%, .846 FT%, 2.7 3PTM, 19.8 PTS, 3.4 REB, 3.1 AST, 0.8 ST, 0.3 BLK, 2.4 TO

Season-highs: 32 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, three steals, one block

An early candidate for Most Improved Player, Mayo has been incredible as a scorer, aside from his recent down stretch from the field. Like many players this season, he has not let injury issues slow him down significantly, as he quickly became a must-start fantasy option in Dallas with the Nowitzki out as the primary scorer. Averaging the most points in a season since his rookie campaign, Mayo has found a home with the Mavericks and has been huge for his fantasy owners.

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1. SF/PF Chandler Parsons, Houston Rockets

Parsons
Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE

SF/PF Chandler Parsons, Rockets, 75% owned

Season averages: 38:04 MPG, .476 FG%, .758 FT%, 2.4 3PTM, 15.7 PTS, 7.0 REB, 3.5 AST, 1.1 ST, 0.1 BLK, 2.1 TO

Season-highs: 31 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, four steals, one block

A common sleeper candidate with Houston given the lack of proven players on the roster, Parsons’ hype dipped with the offseason acquisition of James Harden. Instead of possibly losing playing time in his sophomore season, he has instead seen big increases in all categories and has thrived as the team’s starting small forward. Particularly useful from long range and with rebounding, he’s gone from free agent fodder to fantasy stardom in just one month.