We already know what the superstars of the league can do each night. LeBron is averaging 26, 8, and 8 despite the Lakers’ shaky start. Kemba Walker has been overlooked for much of his career, but his 28 points (second-highest in the NBA) and his 40% 3-point percentage on 10 attempts has catapulted him into an early season MVP candidate.
Steph Curry is, well, doing Steph Curry things.
We hear about those guys every single day, but there are a few players around the league who are flying under the radar despite putting up surprising performances just one month into the season.
The Miami Heat’s Rodney McGruder came into the season as someone who casual fans had never heard of and die-hard fans had heard his name a couple of times in passing. Well, he made it a mission to come out this year after an injury-riddled second season and boy has he done so. McGruder has doubled his averages in points, rebounds, and assists, as well as shooting 10% better from deep compared to his first season, shooting 43% on five attempts. The Heat are 5-5 and hovering around the 8th seed, and with no clear star (other than Hassan Whiteside decides he wants to be), it makes sense then McGruder’s hot start has been swept under the rug. His numbers have cooled down a bit, but an early-season tear where he put up extremely solid performances has led to some hope that the Heat have a real player in someone who didn’t play in the NBA for three years after going undrafted in 2013.
Like our own Evan Anderson wrote about, keep your eye on Allonzo Trier. The Knicks have seemingly found a steal in this undrafted free agent who has exploded in four November performances so far, averaging 17 points on 44% shooting from the perimeter. The talent was never an issue for Trier, instead two NCAA suspensions for testing positive for banned substances during his time at Arizona really put a damper on his draft stock. It was a surprise that no one took on the risk with a late second-round pick but the Knicks were fortunate enough to snag him on a two-way contract. Knicks fans haven’t had a lot to cheer about lately, with an owner they loathe and their superstar power forward injured for what feels like forever, but Trier looks like he could be someone to bring the squad back to relevancy. With the news of Porzingis running again and the Eastern Conference being wide-open, this stroke of luck might be a sign of good fortune that New York hasn’t had for years.
Say hello to Allonzo Trier! 😳 pic.twitter.com/pe1aDRUIcE
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) October 18, 2018
The eleventh pick in the draft has been overshadowed by the dominance from the other members of his draft class, with Luke Doncic, Trae Young, and Wendell Carter hogging the spotlight, but don’t sleep on the young fella. Shai hasn’t been lighting up stat-sheets but his play speaks for itself. Watching him on the floor, he seems to be everywhere on the court and it’s only a matter of time until he fully takes the reigns of a Western Conference team that has potential to bottom out once other squads like the Rockets, Jazz, Pelicans, and possibly the Lakers recover from slow starts. Shai is averaging a modest nine points, three assists, three rebounds, and a steal, but is coming off a 19-point performance against Lillard and crew that could force Doc Rivers to start focusing on his development. With Patrick Beverley playing as poorly as we’ve ever seen coming off a meniscus injury last season, the clock is ticking on his starting job and the rookie looks poised to upgrade LA’s little brother.
OH MY THIS MOVE BY SHAI GILGEOUS-ALEXANDER 👀👀👀
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) November 3, 2018
Another Clipper makes the list as Montrezl Harrell looks like he’s back at Louisville. Harrell has scored in double figures in eight of his last nine games and has averaged 13 points, six boards, two blocks, and a steal in just 22 minutes per game. He especially loves playing against his ex-team in Houston where he put up his best two performances of the year, dropping 17 points, 10 boards, three assists, and three blocks, and just five days later dropping 30 points, six rebounds, two blocks, and two steals. Not to mention, Harrell’s 67% from the field is the second-best in all of the NBA, trailing only Rudy Gobert. His minutes have fluctuated a lot through 11 games, but with Harrell and Shai getting more consistent playing time, Tobias Harris continues to be one of the least talked about ballers in the league (seriously, this whole article could have been just about him – he’s that good) and The Legend of Boban, the Clippers might be worth watching for the first time in a few years.
One of Sixers fans’ favorite members of the process has come out of nowhere to play a significant role for the Thunder, a team that has won seven straight games – all of which Grant has averaged around 30 minutes a night. An unexpected but certainly welcomed development for the Thunder, Grant has posted double figures in eight straight games and a staggering 40% from deep on three attempts per game in five November appearances, a number that genuinely just does not make sense for anyone who watched the Sixers in 2015.
The jump-out-of-the-gym athleticism has always been there for Jerami but a consistent shot has been one thing that has really held him back throughout the years. If this can somehow become a real part of his game, his $9 million/year contract could turn out to be a much-needed value on a team with two max contracts in Russell Westbrook and Paul George, as well as a $25 mil/year contract for Steven Adams. A slow start has impacted Grant’s season averages due to the small sample size of games, but if November’s 14 points, 6 rebounds, 1 block, and 1 steal are anything close to what we see the rest of the year from the role player, the Thunder could be real contenders.
Grant comes up with the block on Draymond and it turns into easy offense for OKC.
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) October 17, 2018