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15 Biggest Surprises of the 2013-14 NBA Season So Far

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15 Biggest Surprises Of The NBA Season

Steve Mitchell – USA TODAY Sports

What a season we have had in the NBA so far.

Even though the regular season schedule is only around the quarter-mark and there are a lot of things left to be decided, it’s safe to say that this season has been one of the most surprising in recent years.

Usually every year has something that sticks in our minds for the posterity, but due to the way this season is shaping up it has all the makings of being one of the best seasons we’ve had in recent memory. And if a projection can be made, it seems like things will only get better as the season continues.

The struggles of top teams in both conferences, the shaping of new superstars right in front of our eyes and the change of power at the top of the standings are only few of the things that can be considered as surprises in a season that has been absolutely filled with them.

Increasing trade rumors, MVP-like performances early on and the dominance of teams that weren’t supposed to be very good at this stage have filled the pages of the early part of the season as well. There are also some rookies that are worth mentioning and the play of a specific Conference that has been historically bad on a number of levels.

Overall, this campaign is shaping up to be one of the most exciting in recent years. Without further ado, please join me through this slideshow as we check the 15 biggest surprises of the NBA season so far.

Juan Pablo Aravena is a sports writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @jparavenarant or add him to your network on Google

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15. Self-Imposed Deadline To Move Omer Asik

Andrew Richardson – USA TODAY Sports

While it was expected that the Houston Rockets were going to move Omer Asik after the arrival of Dwight Howard, nobody expected Houston to force a deadline to move him. They have set a limit to move him of Thursday so they can re-flip some of the assets received in February if they don’t fit with the team’s purposes in the final part of the schedule. It’s quite shocking to say the least.

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14. Rudy Gay Traded To The Sacramento Kings

Mark J. Rebilas - USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Raptors are all in to rebuild, and their first move was to trade Rudy Gay to the Sacramento Kings in a strange move for the Kings, who seem to be clueless about what they want to do with their roster this year.

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13. Tanking Efforts Haven't Worked As Expected

Benny Sieu – USA TODAY Sports

Teams like the Boston Celtics and the Charlotte Bobcats were expected to tank the season and are currently in the playoff hunt while the Milwaukee Bucks wanted to fight for a playoff spot and sit at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. In a very dynamic landscape – especially in the East – it has been shown that in order to plan a season teams need to be aware of what the teams around them are doing as well.

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12. New York Knicks' Struggles

Anthony Gruppuso – USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks were expected to contend for the Eastern Conference, but things haven’t quite worked so far. The struggles of the team as a whole, the public complaints of Carmelo Anthony and the series of injuries that have affected the team have them with a 7-17 record and sitting near the bottom of the East.

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11. Brooklyn Nets' Struggles

Noah K. Murray - USA TODAY Sports

The experiment for the Brooklyn Nets failed last year, and it seems like this season will be another disappointment for the former New Jersey team. Jason Kidd has struggled mightily in his first season as a head coach, and while the team has turned things around lately their star-studded starting five hasn’t been able to gel as expected, putting the team out of the playoff race for now.

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10. Derrick Rose's Latest Injury

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Every single NBA fan was excited to see what Derrick Rose could do after his ACL injury, but the excitement crashed down to earth when the Chicago Bulls' star went down with another serious injury that will keep him sidelined for the entire regular season. With the Bulls struggling, we might have to wait until next year to see Rose back on the hardwood – barring any possible setback in his rehab.

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9. Indiana Pacers' Early Dominance

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Okay, the Indiana Pacers were very good last year, but were they supposed to be this good this season? Indiana has dominated the Eastern Conference this season and even defeated the Miami Heat in the process, so they are the top candidate to reach the NBA Finals if they can keep up with this level of play.

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8. Portland Trail Blazers' Play

Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers have been the most surprising team in the NBA so far. They missed the playoffs last season but suddenly have the best record in a packed Western Conference while dominating top teams from both conferences with a stellar play from guys like Damian Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum. While some regression is widely expected, the Blazers have proven they’re for real this season and they could make some noise come playoff time.

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7. Michael Carter-Williams

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Whenever you start your NBA career with a huge performance against the current champions, you know you are going to be a good player. Michael Carter-Williams has been nothing short of spectacular this season, and he’s the front-runner to end up being the top rookie this year. He's quickly becoming the leader for a Philadelphia 76ers team that clearly misses a go-to guy on the hardwood.

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6. Paul George's MVP-Like Performance

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

With averages of 22.3 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 3.5 APG to start the year, Paul George took his game to another level this season. George stepped up to fill Danny Granger’s shoes last year and ended winning the Most Improved Player award, but right now he’s one of the best players in the entire league and certainly the best player on the best team in the league. That has to count for something.

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5. Chicago Bulls' Rash Of Injuries

Jeff Hanisch - USA TODAY Sports

With Derrick Rose out for the year and Jimmy Butler recently recovering from another injury, the Bulls has had several injury problems to start the year. Joakim Noah, Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich usually struggle to get healthy so this season could end up being a long one for the Bulls if they can’t get their best players on the court on a consistent basis.

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4. Surprisingly Weak Eastern Conference

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Eastern Conference has been historically bad so far. As of Dec 18, only three teams are above .500 – the Atlanta Hawks, Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat. Out of those three, Atlanta has been hovering around the .500 mark quite a while, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them under it as well. If the regular season ended today, it would be the first time in recent history that a conference sends five teams with losing records into the postseason.

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3. Atlantic Division Standings

Derick Hingle - USA TODAY Sports

In a weak Eastern Conference, the Atlantic Division has been the worst by far. The Boston Celtics are currently leading the pack with a 12-14 record, and only the Celtics and the Toronto Raptors would be making the playoffs right now. That's quite a shocker considering the division features the Knicks and the Nets, two teams that were expected to battle for the Conference crown this year.

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2. Change Of Power In The Western Conference

Craig Mitchelldyer - USA TODAY Sports

Usually led by the San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Western Conference is now led by the Portland Trail Blazers. The Thunder and the Spurs remain as top teams, but the Los Angeles Clippers and the Golden State Warriors are quickly shortening the gap with them. Meanwhile, the Memphis Grizzlies – last year’s Conference finalists – are under .500 and in the last place of the Conference.

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1. LeBron James' Efficiency

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The reigning MVP has taken his efficiency to a whole new extreme, showing there’s still room for improvement in who’s considered the best player in the world. LeBron James has averaged 25.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 6.5 APG and a mind-blowing 28.7 PER, all of this while still shooting 60 percent from the floor, 42 percent from three-point range and nearly 78 percent from the free-throw line.