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Nov 5, 2017
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We all knew that Giannis Antetokounmpo would be a destroyer of worlds (31.3 ppg 10.6 rpg 5.3 apg 1.8 spg 1.1 bpg), and reigning MVP Russell Westbrook's numbers would take a hit (19.6 ppg 9.9 rpg 11.9 apg) this season. Still almost a triple-double, though...

Among things that we didn't anticipate are the Cleveland Cavaliers occupying the East's 13th seed, and the Los Angeles Clippers actually doing better without Chris Paul. The NBA is one crazy league.

In fact, a handful of players have been exceeeding expectations, ballin' out in a superstar level over the first few games.


Point guard - Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers)

Averages: 18.5 pts 9.6 reb 7.9 ast 1.5 stl

Yes, he isn't exactly a neophyte (redshirt), and being the No. 1 pick meant that he must be good, but nobody expected him to be this good. The frontrunner for Rookie of the Year is also poised to make the All-Star team in his first year, especially with the Sixers finally winning (4-4). Imagine how hard it would be to take the spotlight away from Joel Embiid.

Shooting guard - Victor Oladipo (Indiana Pacers)

Averages: 23.8 pts 4.1 reb 3.5 ast 1.6 stl 2.6 3pm 50 3p%

This is what happens when you get out from under Westbrook's shadow. Oladipo was handed the keys to the Pacers backcourt, resulting in a breakout year scoring-wise. With the way he and Domantas Sabonis (13.1 pts 11.1 reb 3 ast) are playing, the Paul George trade might just turn out to be a win-win for both squads.

Small forward - Evan Fournier (Orlando Magic)

Averages: 22 pts 4.8 reb 3.8 ast 1.4 stl 3 3pm 55.8 3p%

Which of the Magic's Top 3 scorers haven't put up a 40-point game this season? Sure, Aaron Gordon (20.7 ppg) and Nikola Vucevic (19.7 ppg) have turned heads with their respective monster games, but Fournier has been the steadying force for the Eastern Conference co-leaders (6-2, along with the Boston Celtics).

Power forward - Lauri Markannen (Chicago Bulls)/Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics)

Averages: 17.2 pts 9.3 reb 2.8 3pm 39.5 3p%/13.8 pts 6.6 reb 1 blk 1.4 3pm

We're torn between two greenhorns in the #4 position—one is the lone bright spot for a dysfunctional organization (Kristaps Porzingis 2.0?), while another has been decent in filling the void left by an injured superstar. Markannen and Tatum may not win ROY—based on team record, system—but both players are looking like franchise cornerstones.

Center - Steven Adams (Oklahoma City Thunder)

Averages: 14.4 pts 8.7 reb 1.4 stl 1.4 blk 68.2 fg%

Offense has not been a priority for Adams, and with the arrival of Carmelo Anthony and George, he has to be lucky or scrappy to get scoring opportunities. Well, what do you know? The New Zealand big man is averaging career-highs across the board, particularly in field goal attempts (9.4) and field goal percentage (second-best in the league).

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