15 NBA Players Enjoying Early-Season Eruptions

1 of 16

15 NBA Players Enjoying Early-Season Success

NBA players
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013-14 NBA season has been an incredible during these first two months. The competition has been terrific and the games have not failed to be entertaining. The NBA is no longer top-heavy with one or two teams deemed favorites to obtain a ring. This year, there's a handful of teams that have a realistic chance at the NBA finals.

Throughout the season, many notable players have showcased their skills and have played excellent basketball. There are many players that have had solid starts to the season, but the following 15 players have been the most impressive. These particular players have not only been putting up big numbers, but they have either exceeded expectations or stepped up their game in an immense way.

Players that have enjoyed hot starts who are not in the list include players like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul. Despite each having excellent numbers, they all have played to their anticipated level. The next 15 players deserve to receive recognition for performances that far exceeded anyone’s expectations.

The players selected in the slideshow are players that have shown signs of their capabilities, but never had that breakout season. These players are guys who are putting up numbers but are flying under the radar. They may get recognition for one skillful play, but are quickly shrouded by the LeBron or Durant cloud that is quick to roll in. These players are the unsung contributors who are demanding attention in a big way.

Michael LeDuc writes for the Boston Celtics at Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @mike_leduc, like his Facebook page, and add him to your circle on Google.

2 of 16

15. Klay Thompson

Klay
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

We knew that Klay Thompson was a terrific shooter. But did you know he was this good? The kid is simply on fire. He’s shooting about 48 percent from three! Nobody knew how many touches Klay would get because of all the weapons that the Golden State Warriors have. So far, he’s the team’s leading scorer. He may cool off soon, but he’s been sizzling through the first 13 games.

Notable Games:

10/30 vs. Lakers: 38 points (15-19, 5-7 3-Pt)

11/6 at Minnesota: 30 points (11-21, 6-9 3-Pt),

11/14 vs. Thunder: 27 points (10-15, 6-9 3-Pt), 5 Reb, 3 Blk

3 of 16

14. DeMar DeRozan

DeMar
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone knows this guy can score, but we expect DeMar DeRozan to take numerous shots in order to do so. Over the first four years of his career, he shot under 25 percent from behind the arc. This year, he’s improved that number to 36 percent. This had led him to average 21.6 points per game. He’s shot over 50 percent in six of his last 13 games. He’s been a scoring machine.

Notable Games:

11/15 vs. Chicago: 37 points (13-22, 4-6 3-Pt)

11/20 at Philadelphia: 33 points (10-19, 3-5 3-Pt)

11/1 at Atlanta: 31 points (14-23, 2-5 3-pt)

4 of 16

13. Gordan Hayward

Gordon
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Gordon Hayward has always had a great shot, but who knew he’d show signs of a breakout season? Hayward has improved his averages to 17.8 points, 4.9 assists and 5.6 rebounds per game. He’s doing everything for the Utah Jazz and if it wasn’t for the last couple games, he’d be averaging 20 points a game.

Notable Games:

11/6 at Boston: 28 points (12-20), 9 Reb, 5 Ast

11/9 at Toronto: 24 points (10-18) 7 Reb, 4 Ast, 4 Stl

11/13 vs. New Orleans: 27 points (6-12, 3-5 3-Pt) 5 Reb, 10 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk

5 of 16

12. Jordan Hill

Hill
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Ever since Jordan Hill received a starting job with the Lakers, he has done a terrific job. Hill is primed to succeed in Mike D'Antoni’s system. His season averages through 13 games are 10.4 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. However, in the last five games, he has averaged 17 points, 11.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.

Notable Games:

11/12 vs. New Orleans: 21 points (7-12) 11 Reb, 2 Stl

11/13 at Denver: 18 points (6-11) 15 Reb, 3 Blk

11/17 vs. Detroit: 24 points (11-16) 17 Reb

6 of 16

11. Dwight Howard

Dwight
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Dwight Howard is doing what he should have been doing in Los Angeles. Do you remember when he was the most dominant center in the league? Yeah, me neither. People forgot how good Howard can be after that nightmare of a season. Howard is finally asserting himself once again this season and is averaging 18.4 points, 13.7 rebounds and 2.2 blocks through 13 games thus far.

Notable Games:

11/5 at Portland: 29 points (10-13) 13 Reb

11/11 vs. Toronto: 18 points (7-12) 24 Reb

11/20 at Dallas: 33 points (12-16), 11 Reb

7 of 16

10. Michael Carter-Williams

MCW
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Carter-Williams has exceeded all expectations and has been the favorite for Rookie of the Year so far. I personally did not think he would succeed in the NBA, but he has proven the critics wrong and has been phenomenal through 10 games. He’s shown great instincts and poise.

Notable Games:

10/30 vs. Miami: 22 points (6-10, 4-6 3-Pt) 7 Reb, 12 Ast, 9 Stl

11/2 vs. Chicago: 26 points (10-22) 4 Reb, 10 Ast, 3 Stl

11/9 at Cleveland: 21 points (9-17, 3-3 3-Pt) 7 Reb, 13 Ast, 2 Stl

8 of 16

9. Kevin Love

Love
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Boy, Kevin Love is sure fun to watch! This guy is incredible. He’s dynamic and brings everything to the table. He’s averaging 24.8 points and 13.5 rebounds per game while shooting 34 percent from three. He has had only one game in which he failed to pull down at least 10 boards, proving he’s human after all. He hasn’t been just good -- he’s been MVP good.

Notable Games (too many to choose from)

11/3 at New York: 34 points (10-19) 15 Reb, 5 Ast

11/8 vs. Dallas: 32 points (12-21, 3-6 3-Pt) 15 Reb, 8 Ast

11/13 vs. Cleveland: 33 points (10-16) Reb, 6 Ast

9 of 16

8. LaMarcus Aldridge

LaMarcus
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Aldridge has not exactly “wowed” people this season, but he has been consistent. He has led the Portland Trail Blazers to the second-best record in the league. He’s been a focal point in that offense and has been highly efficient. Aldridge has averaged 21.7 points and 8.8 rebounds a game. He’s been a leader and has shown that he can be a rebounding monster.

Notable Games:

11/18 at Brooklyn: 27 points (9-16) 8 Reb, 2 Blk

11/15 at Boston: 27 points (11-18) 12 Reb

11/1 at Denver: 25 points (12-26) 9 Reb, 4 Ast

10 of 16

7. Evan Turner

Evan Turner
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps one of the biggest surprises of the 2013-14 NBA season, Evan Turner has turned things around and has been magnificent through his first 14 games. His first three seasons showed a struggle to establish himself in the NBA. Last year, he had a "career year" by averaging a mere 13.3 points. This season, he is averaging 21.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.

Notable Games:

11/22 vs. Millawkee: 27 points (10-18) 6 Reb, 3 Ast

11/18 at Dallas: 26 points (10-22, 2-4 3-Pt) 9 Reb, 7 Ast

11/9 at Cleveland: 31 points (9-23) 10 Reb

11 of 16

6. Eric Bledsoe

Bledsoe
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

We knew this kid had the talent, but we did not know he’d break out so quickly. Eric Bledsoe has been outstanding. Through nine games, he has averaged an impressive 20.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 1.8 steals per game. He can drive, he can spot-up and he can pull up. His quickness allows him to get to the rim.

Notable Games:

11/3 at Thunder: 26 points (7-17) 7 Reb, 14 Ast, 3 Stl

11/5 at New Orleans: 25 points (10-12) 4 Reb, 5 Ast, 3 Stl

10/30 vs. Portland: 22 points (7-12) 7 Reb, 6 Ast

12 of 16

5. DeMarcus Cousins

Cousins
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

DeMarcus Cousins is another player who has started to establish himself as an NBA big man. His PER is top-10 in the league at 25.54. He has averaged 21.5 points per game, which is significantly higher than his output over the last three years. He’s also been consistent on the boards with 9.9 rebounds per game. Cousins could have All-Star potential if he keeps his attitude in check.

Notable Games:

10/30 vs. Denver: 30 points (13-26) 14 Reb, 2 Blk, 2 Stl

11/8 at Portland: 35 points (13-25) 9 Reb, 4 Stl

11/9 vs. Suns: 27 points (9-18), 12 Reb, 2 Blk, 4 Stl

13 of 16

4. Anthony Davis

Uni-brow
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Davis is under so much pressure every game as no. 1 picks are closely watched. So far, Davis has been the real deal. He’s averaged a double-double, 20.7 points and 11 rebounds with four blocks per game. Plus, his PER of 29.9 leads the league. Just to get an idea of how impressive that number is, it is ahead of those of players like LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kevin Love.

Notable Games:

11/1 at Orlando: 26 points (9-23), 17 Reb, 3 Blk

11/8 vs. Lakers: 32 points (12-18) 12 Reb, 6 Blk

11/13 vs. Jazz: 29 points (12-21) 15 Reb

14 of 16

3. Aaron Afflalo

Afflalo
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Afflalo has always been known for his defensive-minded style of play, plus he could hit a three every once in a while. However, through 11 games this season, Afflalo has been lighting it up. For the first time in his career, his offense is outweighing his defense. He has averaged 22.5 points per game, which is significantly higher than his previous career high of 16.5 points per game. Afflalo has been extremely efficient at shooting the ball. He’s shooting 54 percent from beyond the arc! This guy needs some ice on his hands!

Notable Games:

10/30 at Minnesota: 28 points (11-22, 3-5 3-Pt) 9 Reb, 5 Ast

11/1 vs. New Orleans: 30 points (10-14, 4-5 3-Pt) 4 Reb, 4 Ast

11/13 vs. Milwaukee: 36 points (11-15, 8-11 3-Pt) 8 Reb, 6 Ast, 2 Stl

15 of 16

2. Kevin Martin

Kevin
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The last time Kevin Martin had a starting job, he averaged only 17.1 points per game and shot 35 percent from 3-point land. This year, he is averaging 23.1 points per game while shooting a deadly 46 percent from beyond the arc. He’s been lighting up the arena and has been a solid option. Martin’s best days aren’t behind him after all.

Notable Games:

11/3 at New York: 30 points (9-12, 5-5 3-Pt)

11/8 vs. Dallas: 32 points (10-19, 3-5 3-Pt) 5 Reb, 2 Stl

11/20 vs. Clippers: 28 points (11-21, 3-4 3-Pt) 10 Reb, 4 Ast

16 of 16

1. Paul George

curious george
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Paul George has been filling up the stat sheet consistently. He has been aggressive and has developed a killer instinct. Last year, he averaged just 17.4 points per game. He’s averaging 24.6 points per game this season. The superstar within Paul George is finally beginning to reveal itself.

Notable Games:

11/20 at New York: 35 points (12-26) 5 Reb, 4 Ast, 5 Stl, 2 Blk

11/5 at Detroit: 31 points (12-18, 4-8 3Pt) 10 Reb, 4 Ast, 4 Stl

10/30 vs. New Orleans: 32 points (9-19, 4-11 3-Pt) 6 Reb, 5 Ast, 2 Stl

Around the Web