10 NBA Players Whose Second-Half Surges Are for Real
Each and every year, there are players who step up their game after returning to the court after the All-Star break.
This year is no exception, with guys like Antawn Jamison, Ty Lawson, Josh Smith and Ersan Ilyasova, stepping up their offensive production and efficiency considerably since the 2012 NBA All-Star break.
While there are some players that will undoubtedly cool off after their impressive second-half surges, there are a number of players who will continue to lead their teams with increased productivity and efficiency down the stretch of the second half of the 2011-12 NBA season.
Ahead is a list of players that not only have stepped up their game considerably so far in the second half of the season, but will also maintain their "surges" throughout the final stretch of the season.
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Pre All-Star Break: 15.4 points and 6.1 assists per game
Post All-Star Break: 17.8 points and 10.7 assists per game
The Denver Nuggets have won five of their first six games since the 2012 NBA All-Star break, and those wins are in large part due to the increased efficiency and offensive production from their point guard, Ty Lawson.
Impressively enough, three of those five wins have come against playoff-caliber teams in the Western Conference in the Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets.
While Lawson's increased minutes per game average, up 5.1 minutes from his pre All-Star break average of 35 minutes, is a reason for his increased production, there's no doubt that he's stepped up his game as of late.
The Nuggets, led by Ty Lawson, are poised for a legitimate run down the stretch of the second half of the season, as they are playing with more chemistry and more efficiency than at any point in the season so far.
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Pre All-Star Break: 17.4 points and 6.5 rebounds per game
Post All-Star Break: 22.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per game
The Cavaliers have been completely inconsistent since the 2012 NBA All-Star break, losing their first four games after the break, only to follow that up by beating the best team in the Western Conference, the Oklahoma City Thunder.
In spite of Cleveland's inconsistent play, power forward Antawn Jamison has been playing at the most efficient and productive level of the season. Jamison's increased production in the last five games is the main reason why the Cavaliers are only four games back in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
The main reason why Jamison's second-half surge is for real is because he's in the final year of his contract with the Cavaliers. He needs to play at a high level throughout the remainder of the season to prove to teams that might be interested in him in free agency that he can still bring something of value to their team and locker room.
Expect Antawn Jamison to carry the Cavaliers throughout the second half of the season, keeping them in contention for the eighth seed in the East all the way until the final game of the 2011-12 season.
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Pre All-Star Break: 7.3 points and 4.2 rebounds per game
Post All-Star Break: 14.9 points and 7.1 rebounds per game
Derrick Williams' increased offensive production has been a much-needed spark coming off the bench for the Minnesota Timberwolves since the 2012 NBA All-Star break.
Williams has seen increased minutes since the All-Star break because of Michael Beasley's continual inconsistent production on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball.
WIth fellow rookie Ricky Rubio sidelined with a torn ACL for the remainder of the 2011-12 season, the Timberwolves will look to Derrick Williams to carry the slack on the offensive side of the ball, and there's no doubt that he's ready to step up and do just that.
If the Minnesota Timberwolves do trade Michael Beasley, Williams will be the go-to-guy at the small forward position, and he's proved as of late that he's ready to be a consistent piece of the Timberwovles starting rotation.
With Minnesota only one game behind the Houston Rockets for the eighth seed in the West, Derrick WIlliams' increased production has the potential to make the Timberwolves a legitimate playoff contender down the stretch of the second half of the season.
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Pre All-Star Break: 16.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game
Post All-Star Break: 23.2 points and 10.5 rebounds per game
The Atlanta Hawks have been their normal inconsistent selves since the 2012 NBA All-Star break, but that isn't because of the play of Josh Smith.
Josh Smith has been playing at a ridiculous level since the All-Star break, leading the team in rebounding and in scoring while doing so by shooting at an impressive 48.5 percent from the field.
While there are rumors circulating about Josh Smith's constant desire to be traded from the Hawks, there's no doubt that he's ready to be a franchise player for whoever he plays for for the remainder of the 2011-12 season.
Josh Smith, at only 26 years old and in his eighth season in the NBA, is solidifying himself as one of the top power forwards in the NBA, and his second-half surge this season will help him do just that.
Without Al Horford, and without getting the production they need from Joe Johnson, the Hawks will rely on Smith's production to carry them throughout the remainder of the 2011-12 NBA season.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Pre All-Star Break: 18.3 points and 5.2 assists per game
Post All-Star Break: 21.6 points and 7.9 assists per game
The Milwaukee Bucks have been their inconsistent selves since the 2012 NBA All-Star break, winning only three of their seven games since the break.
While the Bucks' losing ways are a result of their 24th-ranked defense, which allows 98.4 points per game, there's no doubt that they are one of the more explosive offensive teams in the NBA, led by none other than Brandon Jennings.
Jennings, in the second half of the season, is showing everyone why he deserved to be on the Eastern Conference's 2012 All-Star roster by producing at an impressive rate offensively speaking.
Not only is Jennings scoring at a more productive rate, he's also creating more scoring opportunities for his teammates by upping his assists totals. Jennings is quietly becoming one of the most dangerous point guards in the league, as well as one of the most exciting franchise talents to build around.
If Jennings continues to play at the high level that he has since the All-Star break, there's no doubt that he will be a contender for the 2012 NBA Most Improved Player Award.
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Pre All-Star Break: 12.4 points per game, 38.9 FG%
Post All-Star Break: 17.4 points per game, 41.2 FG%
While the Washington Wizards are still struggling to win games, they've done in three games what it took them 14 games to do at the beginning game of the season, and that was to win two games.
The Wizards aren't going to be a contender this year, but that doesn't mean they can't grow as a team throughout the second half of the season, and it appears that they are doing just that.
Leading the way is the play of shooting guard Jordan Crawford, who has managed to increase his offensive production while also increasing his shooting percentage at the same time.
Crawford isn't known for being the most efficient offensive player, with a reputation of taking bad shots on a consistent basis, but if he keeps playing the way he has since the All-Star break, he might be able to drop that reputation.
Jordan Crawford has the potential to be a solid part of the Wizards future, especially if he can manage to control his tendency to do too much offensively, and instead, play at the efficient rate he has since the All-Star break.
Pre All-Star Break: 14.3 points per game
Post All-Star Break: 22.6 points per game
The Detroit Pistons have shocked the world since the 2012 NBA All-Star break by beating the Los Angeles Lakers and the Atlanta Hawks in the past week.
The one commonality in the Pistons' hot start to the second half of the 2011-12 NBA season is the play of guard Rodney Stuckey, who's been playing at a ridiculously high level since the All-Star break.
Stuckey is solidifying himself as the Pistons' go-to scoring option at the point guard/shooting guard position alongside rookie Brandon Knight, making the Pistons backcourt one of the most exciting moving into the second half of the season.
Stuckey is also shooting the ball at a much more efficient rate, with a 46.9 percent field goal percentage since the All-Star break, which is helping to solidify the Pistons' scoring attack.
The Pistons' future isn't looking as bleak as it did earlier in the season, with Stuckey helping to make the Pistons a more dangerous team down the stretch of the 2011-12 season.
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Pre All-Star Break: 12.7 points and 1.9 assists per game
Post All-Star Break: 19.3 points and 3.1 assists per game
The Nuggets have rediscovered their winning ways from the first part of the 2011-12 NBA season, and it's rooted in the increased offensive production they are getting from Arron Afflalo.
Afflalo has helped the Nuggets start the second half of the season with five wins in six games, which has put them right back into the playoff race in the Western Conference.
Not only is Afflalo producing at an impressive offensive rate, he is also helping the Nuggets become a more defensively-minded team, which is something that they desperately need heading into the home stretch of the season.
If Afflalo, in addition to point guard Ty Lawson, can continue to play at the efficient level that he has in the past week, there's no doubt that the Nuggets can continue to be a dangerous team in the Western Conference.
Don't sleep on the Nuggets down the stretch, especially with Afflalo playing at the productive and efficient level he has been since the All-Star break.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Pre All-Star Break: 10.4 points and 8.6 rebounds per game
Post All-Star Break: 19.1 points and 9.9 rebounds per game
Where in the world did Ersan Ilyasova's offensive explosion come from?
Since the 2012 NBA All-Star break, Ilyasova has been carrying the Bucks' frontcourt offense in the paint, with an 8.7 points per game increase in offensive production.
Ilyasova was thrust into the Bucks starting lineup after starting center Andrew Bogut went down with a fractured ankle back in January.
Since being in the starting lineup, Ilyasova has had impressive performances, but he's finally starting to play at a productively consistent rate, which is helping the Bucks win games against solid competition.
What's made Ilyasova such an offensive threat is his increased efficiency on the offensive side of the ball, as evidenced by his impressive 59.6 percent field goal percentage since the 2012 NBA All-Star break.
With Ilyasova finding his niche in the Bucks offense, Milwaukee has a lot of solid pieces to build on in the future while still being a dangerous team in the East down the final stretch of the 2011-12 season.
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Pre All-Star Break: 11.7 points and 3.9 rebounds per game
Post All-Star Break: 16.6 points and 7.7 rebounds per game
Jared Dudley's increased production is one of the main reasons why the Phoenix Suns have won four of their first five games since the 2012 NBA All-Star break.
Dudley is turning into a nice option for point guard Steve Nash, which is helping Nash play at one of the most efficient levels of his illustrious career.
In addition to Dudley's increased offensive production and his increased production on the glass, he's also shooting the ball at an increased percentage. Dudley is shooting the ball at 53.4 percent from the field, as compared to his 48.1 percent field goal percentage during the first half of the 2011-12 season.
If Dudley can manage to keep contributing to the Suns offense like he has so far in the second half of the season, there's no reason to believe that Phoenix won't make a serious run at a berth in the Western Conference playoffs.
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