Ricky Rubio and the 5 Crazy Early Surprise NBA Stars

John FrielAnalyst IJanuary 19, 2012

Ricky Rubio and the 5 Crazy Early Surprise NBA Stars

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    With every NBA season, you're bound to at least have a few surprise players in the field.

    Whether they're new and exceeding expectations or if they're a young player that's finally coming into their own, these surprise players each provide a huge boost to their respective team.

    Because they don't expect that type of contribution from said player, any added offensive and defensive skills would be extremely helpful.

    These five players are all providing tremendous support for their teams. They've all proven to be the biggest surprises of the year thus far and have helped lead each of their squads to heights that they possibly didn't see prior to the start of the season.

    Take a look at the five biggest surprises in the NBA and contemplate on whether or not they'll still be regarded as a quality player by the end of the year.

Kyle Lowry

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    After a monster second half of the season last year, Houston Rockets point guard Kyle Lowry is proving to everyone why the team opted to keep him instead of Aaron Brooks.

    As Brooks wallows in China and will soon be on the Phoenix Suns bench, Lowry flourishes with the Rockets as he leads one of the NBA's most volatile offenses.

    He's not the type of point guard that will captivate you like Derrick Rose or Russell Westbrook and he won't make too many delicious dimes like Steve Nash and Rajon Rondo. Instead, Lowry is going to beat you at all aspects of the game, while doing it the fundamental way.

    Averaging 17 points, nine assists and six boards to go along with two three-pointers per game at a 42 percent clip, Lowry is giving the Houston Rockets something to look forward to in the future. With a point guard as good as Lowry in the starting lineup, any type of scorer would be helpful to the cause as he'll no doubt find ways to get his teammates open.

Spencer Hawes

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    Remember this guy, Sacramento and the rest of the NBA world?

    To put it lightly, Spencer Hawes hasn't exactly lived up to being a No. 10 pick. He was selected by the Sacramento Kings in 2007 after one season at the University of Washington, but wouldn't get much playing time in his rookie season. It wouldn't be until his second year that we got to see the Hawes that the Kings drafted.

    As it turns out, he wasn't that good. Despite being relatively huge, Hawes was soft when it came to working in the post. He didn't enjoy posting up, playing with his back to the basket or basically doing anything in the post, so he became a jump shooter. Nowadays, Hawes is rarely seen in the post and is mostly playing the mid-range game.

    After a disappointing first year with the Philadelphia 76ers last season, Hawes is beginning to prove his worth as the team's starting center. He's currently averaging 10 points on 59 percent shooting to go along with nine boards, three assists and two blocks per.

    Hawes is actually making more of an effort on defense and rebounding than ever before and it's paying off with huge numbers across the board.

Ricky Rubio

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    If you say that you saw this coming, you're a filthy liar and everyone knows it.

    Seriously, no one could have predicted that Ricky Rubio would be averaging 11 points, eight assists, five boards and two steals per 14 games into his NBA career. The fact that he's also shooting 43 percent overall and 41 percent from deep is shocking enough, as we presumed Rubio to be an awful jump shooter based on what we've seen in the past.

    Perhaps we can chalk that one up to a hot start, but there's no way we can explain everything else. Rubio's driving into the lane with ease and a cool demeanor, and has yet to allow an NBA defense throw him off in any way. He controls the tempo of the game and forces the opposing defense to play the way he wants to play it.

    It's Rubio's passing, however, that is all the rage. He's a regular Steve Nash with the way he threads the ball in between defenders. Once he breaks into the paint, it's all over as Rubio has already found the player he wants to give it up to.

    Of course, Rubio does have some downfalls. He commits too many turnovers basically because he's trying to be too fancy. At times, the fundamental pass is all he needs rather than attempting to get another highlight-reel worthy play.

Mario Chalmers

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    Mario Chalmers has always responded well to pressure. Whether it was in the NCAA or the NBA, Chalmers has always been that guy you can depend on in those situations.

    With Norris Cole parading around as the flavor of the week, Chalmers felt the pressure that his starting job may be unwinding. Instead of allowing that to happen, Mario elevated his game and managed to keep his spot at point guard, while the hype around Cole has died down.

    Chalmers is doing everything that the Heat expected of him this year. He's getting open shots on the perimeter and making them at an impressive 46 percent clip. He's shooting 54 percent overall, is driving into the lane when he has the chance and is even attempting to limit the silly mistakes that he has been subject to making.

    He's still committing three turnovers per, but they're at least forced. It's not like in previous seasons where Chalmers would attempt an alley-oop pass from midcourt and throw it 10 feet over the recipient's head. He's just making the mistakes of an average point guard.

    After averaging a career low six points and three assists per last season, Chalmers has come alive and is currently averaging 12 points, four assists, three rebounds and two steals per.

Ian Mahinmi

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    Chances are you don't know much about Ian Mahinmi. That's alright though because not many people do and why should you in the first place?

    Spending his first three seasons as a seldom-used role player, Mahinmi's services were suddenly needed by the Dallas Mavericks after losing out on Tyson Chandler to free agency. With Brendan Haywood being the only other center to rely on, the Mavericks needed someone else, thus the reason why Mahinmi is currently playing 20 minutes per night.

    It turns out that the Frenchman isn't all that bad. Through 15 games, Mahinmi is averaging eight points on 65 percent shooting to go along with five boards and a block per. He's long enough to contest in the post on offense and defense, and even has a short jumper that can be relied on.

    He won't be an All-Star anytime soon, but it is pleasing to the Mavericks that they possess a 25-year-old center with some sort of skill around the basket on both sides of the ball.