Every year, a handful of NBA players make noticeable improvements to their performances that grab the attention of their peers. This year is no exception.
There are a lot of components that go into a player having a breakout year. First and foremost is the offseason work they put in leading up to the season. The intensity of the workouts has to be high enough to not only maintain the player’s current level of productivity but also break the threshold and push them to a higher level of performance.
Secondly, the player has to convince his teammates and coaches that his progress warrants a bigger role on the offensive or defensive side of the ball. Lastly, the player has to have the internal belief to execute under the bright lights and perform when the cameras are rolling and the eyes of the basketball world are watching.
With that criteria in mind, let’s take a closer look at five players who are performing at higher-than-expected levels and making a name for themselves this season.
NBA: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander-OKC Thunder
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the OKC Thunder has gone from the best-kept secret in professional basketball to a bona fide superstar this season. The leap he has taken is amazing, but fans who have been paying attention are not completely thrown off; his growth year after year indicated that he was a volcano just waiting to erupt.
However, while Gilgeous-Alexander has been deservedly eating up all the headlines, there are several other young players throughout the NBA who are making their mark on the league and putting the basketball world on notice that they’re on an upward trend.
This happens every season, and each winter, several first-timers are awarded an inaugural appearance in the All-Star game. While the players we will discuss in this article may not receive an All-Star nod this season, their performances thus far indicate that being selected for the annual extravaganza is within their grasp for the future.