So, the Christmas Eve ‘NBA holiday’ is upon us, which means the NBA Christmas extravaganza is just hours away. It also means that the NBA regular season is about a third of the way finished and it’s time for Hoopsmith to make its grand re-entrance and delve into the happenings of the first post-lockout full season.
The 2012 season has been an eventful one already with story-lines ranging from the sudden birth of the New York City-Brooklyn rivalry producing exciting games to issues off the court such as commissioner David Stern fining the San Antonio Spurs for head coach Gregg Popovich’s decision to fly home four starters before a nationally televised game with the Miami Heat to rest them.
However, the season, still young despite closing in on its second full month of play just next week, has seen the emergence–or re-emergence–of star performers who are making their impacts felt around the league. These players’ improvements and dominance have been showcased in nearly every game and they are being noticed.
An honorable mention goes out to guys who still function as role players but have shown drastic upgrades in their game, like Andray Blatche of the Brooklyn Nets, Eric Bledsoe of the Los Angeles Clippers, and Jimmer Fredette of the Sacramento Kings. But, without further ado, here are the 5 surprising performances as the Christmas games approach!
5) Anderson Varejao, Cleveland Cavaliers
Anderson Varejao has always been known for his fiery attitude and his aggressiveness on the glass. After being sidelined by injuries for much of the past two seasons, Varejao is proving to his critics that he is a dominant force in the Association.
Averaging 11 points and 11 boards last season in the 25 games he did play in, Varejao has improved both totals to 14 in the same number of games. However, he is a model of consistency on the boards, racking up single digits only five times this season and even hauling in more than 20 rebounds on two different occasions. Unsurprisingly, he leads the league in rebounds per game and is top three in every rebounding-efficiency statistic that John Hollinger’s sabremetics produce.
Despite the fact that Varejao’s shooting percentage has gone down slightly, he has seen noticeable improvements in scoring, assists, turnovers, and free throw percentage. The Cavaliers have struggled mightily this season, but Varejao has been putting up simply insane numbers nightly, including one of the best performances of the season: 35 points on 16-21 shooting, 18 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals against the Brooklyn Nets.