Friday , Nov , 28 , 2008 C.Y. Ellis

Early-Season Surprises

Early-Season SurprisesI gotta say, this season has been pretty exciting so far. Carter vs. Bosh in Toronto, Brandon Roy’s two miracle shots that eventually put down the Rockets, the Knicks trading away two black holes basically at the same time. It’s been fun to witness. Also, early on there have been some players that have stood out to me. Below are my early-season surprises.

Wilson Chandler
This kid impressed me last year in limited time, but I didn’t expect Wilson to come along this quickly in his second year. What has stuck out to me about Chandler is his aggressiveness. Sounds simple, but so many rookies or young players in general come into the league and are very tentative. You see a lot of guys getting their feet wet first.

For Wilson, any time he’s been on the floor he’s seemed very sure of himself. He’s a superb athlete that can not only get to the rim, but he can shoot the jumper, already showing good three-point range. His athleticism has also proved beneficial on the defensive end. I see Chandler becoming a mix of Richard Jefferson/Shawn Marion.

Devin Harris
It’s hard to say what Harris is doing a better job of right now: playing like a star, or making Mark Cuban look like an idiot. Perhaps they are one and the same. Whatever the case, Harris is tearing it up, averaging 23 points a game.  He’s getting into the paint with vigor and attacking the body of various bigs in the NBA, as evidenced by Harris’s free throw attempts (he’s averaging 11 a game).

Besides from making a living at the line, Harris has shown confidence in all fields, notably in shooting from the perimeter at a better clip. While running the break, opponents have dropped back and are waiting at the rim for Devin. Harris has taken care of that with a new stop-on-a-dime jump shot.

Chris Duhon
When Chris Duhon was signed to a two-year deal by Donnie Walsh, I figured it was for the back-up point guard role. Well I think the whole world knows how the point guard situation in Manhattan has turned out. Duhon has been averaging 40 minutes a night while showing growth in his game from playing in Mike D’Antoni’s system. D’Antoni leans on Duhon a lot because of his defensive prowess, not surprising considering the Knicks are a very poor team on that side of the ball. 

The point average is nothing special at 10 a game, but his assists way up at 7 per. Even with the his 10 ppg, Duhon has shown confidence in his jump shot, which has always been known as shaky. Lately, I’ve seen him come down the floor in games and just chuck up threes before the shot clock has hit 16. CoachD’Antoni encourages players to take the first open look that becomes available. That mentality seems to be serving Duhon well.

Anthony Morrow
NBA general managers are so smart, they all collectively pass on Anthony Morrow, and boom. What a bummer for Morrow right? Wrong. Instead Morrow would hit the summer league for the Warriors, and at one point during a six-game stretch hit 16 of 19 treys. When Morrow got his first start, he said hello to the league and its audience, scoring 37 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. In the following game Morrow would score 25 against Portland. Yeah, he’s a legit shooter. Now NBA scouts are singing his praises. A little late, no?

Trevor Ariza
This is a guy that’s making a name for himself in Lakerland. Ariza was originally drafted by the Knicks with the 43rd pick, but ended up in Orlando two years later following the Steve Francis trade. The Magic wouldn’t hold on to him either, trading him to LA in a deal which included Brian Cook and Maurice Evans. Ariza at the time was widely known as an athletic kid with a nice wingspan, and a very good defender.

This season Ariza has added something to his game many experts were hoping to see: a consistent jump shot. Ariza is shooting at a 35% clip from three (a career high) while eclipsing his three-point field goal attempts from last year by five. There has been talk of Trevor eventually starting over Radmanovic because of his defense. Not bad for the 43rd pick of the draft.

What do you guys think of these players and the many others who still fly under the radar? Let us know your opinions in the comments box below.