The 2012-13 NBA season, much like each of the seasons throughout the history of professional basketball, has not been without its fair share of surprises. In fact, each team has seen one player in particular emerge as its most surprising contributor.
However, that's not necessarily a good thing.
While some of these surprises have indeed been positives, more than a few have been negatives as well. You see, it's just as easy to fail to meet the expectations as it is to surpass them.
So, who has been your team's most surprising contributor?
Note: All stats are current through Tuesday, Dec. 4.
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 13.6 points, 2.4 rebounds, 7.1 assists, 0.4 blocks, 1.8 steals, 18.44 PER
In the past, Jeff Teague was the point guard for the Atlanta Hawks, but he wasn't the barometer by which his team should be judged. During the 2012-13 campaign, the Hawks will go as far as Teague can take them.
He's been an efficient scorer, picking and choosing his spots masterfully while never playing outside the flow of the offense. Teague's passing has also been superb, although he could stand to cut down on his turnovers.
The Wake Forest product was expected to be good at the helm for Atlanta, but he wasn't supposed to be this good.
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 8.9 points, 2.8 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.5 blocks, 0.6 steals, 11.00 PER
Jeff Green sat out the entire 2011-12 season, building the hype for his eventual return to the Boston Celtics lineup. The athletic forward was supposed to be able to run up and down the court with Rajon Rondo, bringing a new up-tempo look to the Beantown offense.
Unfortunately for Boston, though, Green hasn't been very good in the lineup.
His scoring has been just fine, given his limited run, but he's had trouble rebounding and preventing turnovers.
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 10.6 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.6 blocks, 0.6 steals, 22.98 PER
Wasn't Andray Blatche supposed to be a worthless basketball player who was more of a locker-room cancer than anything else?
That's what the young power forward's last season in Washington supposedly taught us. Except that it was completely false.
A change of scenery has done wonders for Blatche, who has excelled in his 19.3 minutes per game with the Brooklyn Nets.
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 16.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 0.5 blocks, 2.1 steals, 17.32 PER
Kemba Walker was largely disappointing during his rookie season, averaging just 12.1 points per game on 36.6 percent shooting from the field.
He was supposed to take a step forward during his sophomore campaign, but he ended up taking a massive leap and should be in contention for Most Improved Player at the end of the 2012-13 season.
Kemba didn't just start averaging more points per game, but he did so while increasing his efficiency and passing skills.
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 6.1 points, 2.5 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 0.4 blocks, 0.9 steals, 9.18 PER
The Chicago Bulls needed to find a stopgap at point guard while Derrick Rose recovered from his ACL injury, and Kirk Hinrich was supposed to be the man for the job.
However, the veteran floor general has been largely disappointing during his return to the Windy City.
His shot in particular has completely disappeared. Captain Kirk has hit only 32 percent of his shots from the field, and his 30.3 percent shooting from downtown gives no indication of his shooting prowess.
A career-low 6.1 points per game isn't what the Bulls were looking for out of No. 12.
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 15.2 points, 15.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 0.4 blocks, 1.5 steals, 24.28 PER
Anderson Varejao has always been a solid player. Largely unappreciated, he's toiled away in relative obscurity, never giving less than 100 percent at any moment. He's been more of a premier glue guy than anything else for the most part.
However, during the 2012-13 season, Varejao has been an absolute stud. If there have been better big men in the NBA, they're tough to find.
His 15.4 rebounds per game is an astounding total, and the Wild Thing has given no indication that he'll be slowing down in the near future.
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 20.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 0.2 blocks, 0.7 steals, 18.90 PER
O.J. Mayo has been one of the biggest surprises in the NBA through the early portions of the 2012-13 season, even if his success is a little bit unsustainable.
Apparently a fresh start was all that Mayo needed. His numbers indicate that he's thoroughly enjoying his transition from the Memphis Grizzlies bench to the Dallas Mavericks starting lineup.
Mayo has worn out nets given the frequency with which he's hit from the outside.
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 13.4 points, 2.7 rebounds, 7.2 assists, 0.1 blocks, 1.9 steals, 13.19 PER
This was supposed to be the season that Ty Lawson broke out and started to assert himself as one of the league's top point guards. However, that hasn't happened yet.
Lawson has uncharacteristically struggled to find his scoring touch, shooting a career-low 40.3 percent from the field. His field-goal percentage has decreased during each of his four seasons at the NBA level, but the drop off from 48.8 percent last year to his current mark is unprecedented.
Until he starts hitting more shots and maintaining control of the ball, Lawson can't make the jump into the realm of the elites.
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 5.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 1.3 blocks, 0.8 steals, 20.39 PER
Andre Drummond was almost universally regarded as one of the more raw prospects in the 2012 NBA draft. He was a project player, a guy who was going to stink it up during his rookie season before turning it on later in his career once he developed.
Yeah, so much for that.
Drummond has been one of the few bright spots in the Detroit Pistons lineup, playing great defense and efficient, albeit limited, offense.
If only Lawrence Frank would play him more.
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 15.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.4 blocks, 0.4 steals, 9.61 PER
Klay Thompson was one of the breakout players of the post-All-Star break portion of the 2011-12 campaign, but his follow-up sophomore season has been undeniably awful.
The sharpshooter simply can't find his shot.
Thompson is shooting 37.5 percent from the field and 32.2 percent from downtown, both of which are well below the standards he set for himself during his rookie season.
The Golden State Warriors have been one of the NBA's better teams thus far, so it's scary to imagine how good they might look if Thompson regains his stroke.
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 14.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.7 blocks, 0.6 steals, 16.28 PER
You could call the stellar play of James Harden or the lackluster performances of Jeremy Lin surprises, but Patrick Patterson's early-season breakout has been even more shocking.
The third-year player out of Kentucky found his shot again, extended his range to well beyond the three-point arc, improved the care with which he plays and just increased his confidence.
I guess a spot in the starting lineup tends to do that when the talent is there.
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 9.7 points, 8.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 3.1 blocks, 0.8 steals, 14.63 PER
When the Indiana Pacers signed Roy Hibbert to a max contract over the summer, they expected the stud center to continue his incredible defensive play while becoming even more of an offensive contributor.
While the former has been a success, the latter hasn't.
Hibbert currently couldn't throw the ball into the Pacific Ocean if he was standing on the beach. It's quite problematic when a back-to-the-basket player who lives in the paint shoots 39.4 percent from the field.
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.6 points, 1.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 0.1 blocks, 1.1 steals, 19.31 PER
After his scoring average steadily declined for five years while he switched teams from the New York Knicks to the Golden State Warriors to the Atlanta Hawks to the Portland Trail Blazers, Jamal Crawford wasn't exactly supposed to be lighting it up off the bench during 2012-13.
Well, no one told him.
Now with the Los Angeles Clippers, the flashy dribbler and creative shot-creator has scored at a high level throughout the early portion of the season. He's been an incredible offensive sparkplug off the bench and one of the primary reasons for the Clippers' early success.
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 12.6 points, 8.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.2 blocks, 0.5 steals, 14.99 PER
How in the world does Pau Gasol have a 14.99 PER, one that leaves him ever so slightly below the league average of 15?
The Spanish seven-footer had people chomping at the bit to see how his versatility would fit in with the new-look Los Angeles Lakers. Domination was expected when he lined up next to Dwight Howard in the frontcourt.
Domination is exactly what occurred, but on the part of the Lakers opponents.
It only took 17 games for Gasol to find himself riding the pine and embroiled in trade rumors.
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.7 points, 13.3 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.7 blocks, 0.8 steals, 20.35 PER
Zach Randolph has already spent 11 years in the NBA, firmly establishing himself as one of the league's most impressive power forwards. That still didn't stop him from blowing the expectations out of the water thus far.
Z-Bo's numbers weren't supposed to look this good, not with Mike Conley, Rudy Gay and Marc Gasol all joining him in Memphis Grizzlies uniforms.
He's playing with incredible energy, crashing the boards as much as possible and recording a sensational 13.3 rebounds per game. The Grizzlies might win games as the result of a host of great players, but don't try to tell Randolph that he's not a star.
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 19.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 0.7 blocks, 1.3 steals, 21.80 PER
The Miami Heat are covered so much that not too many players on their roster can truly surprise us. Quite frankly, most guys have played right around the expectations that we set for them.
Dwyane Wade stands out as the guy whose performance has differed the most from those expectations. He's played like a star, but not a superstar during the early portion of the 2012-13 season.
You know you're good when the stat line listed above is viewed as disappointing.
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 8.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 3.0 blocks, 0.6 steals, 18.64 PER
Despite the fact that Larry Sanders was the No. 15 pick of the 2010 NBA draft, it sure seems like he came out of nowhere to become a key contributor in the Milwaukee Bucks frontcourt.
The athletic VCU product has shot incredibly well from the field, but his true value stems from his defense. Apparently he's decided that he's some reincarnation of Hakeem Olajuwon, because he's swatting away shots with a vengeance, averaging 3.0 blocks per game.
Sanders is a terrific story, but I do have to wonder how sustainable his success is.
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 13.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.8 blocks, 1.5 steals, 18.27 PER
It's a shame how little attention Andrei Kirilenko has gotten during the 2012-13 season, because he's a big reason that the Minnesota Timberwolves were able to avoid falling well down in the Western Conference standings while Kevin Love healed.
AK47 has played efficient basketball on offense, but he's truly excelled on defense. Guarding either forward spot and wreaking havoc with his wingspan, athleticism and versatile play, Kirilenko has done wonders for the Wolves defense.
It looks like a stellar showing at the Olympics has given him quite a bit of confidence.
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 7.9 points, 0.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 0.1 blocks, 0.3 steals, 18.08 PER
There's coming out of nowhere, and then there's what Brian Roberts has done for the New Orleans Hornets roster. After barely making the roster as a 27-year-old rookie, the backup point guard has excelled in his new NBA role.
In addition to his efficient shooting from the field, Roberts is nearly automatic from the free-throw line and rarely turns the ball over.
This is a guy who played college basketball at Dayton and then spent the last four seasons playing in Israel and Germany. Here's hoping he keeps up his torrid pace off the bench.
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 26.6 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.6 blocks, 0.8 steals, 24.45 PER
We all knew that Carmelo Anthony would put together a great season in his New York Knicks garb, but not many expected him to play this well-rounded of a game for this long.
Yeah, Melo has thrived on offense, but that's nothing new.
It's his constant hustling and willingness to lock down on defense that has been so surprising. Anthony has been *gasp* a good defender.
According to 82games.com, Anthony has actually managed to hold opposing small forwards and power forwards to PERs of 12.0 and 14.6, respectively.
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 3.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, 0.1 assists, 0.9 blocks, 0.5 steals, 14.15 PER
Through 19 games, Hasheem Thabeet has been a serviceable backup for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Need I say more?
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 13.9 points, 2.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 0.1 blocks, 0.4 steals, 16.01 PER
I'm sure that I'm not the only one who thought that J.J. Redick's prior success in the NBA was largely due to Dwight Howard's dominance in the paint. The defensive attention Howard required opened up space for Redick's potent jumper.
Apparently, that's not exactly the case.
Redick is playing the best basketball of his career while D12 labors away in the paint of the Staples Center. He's put up career highs in points per game, field-goal percentage and assists per game during the early portion of the season, blowing his previous best away in the dimes category.
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 12.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.7 blocks, 1.7 steals, 17.98 PER
Jason Richardson looks completely rejuvenated now that he's wearing a Philadelphia 76ers uniform. That's a surprise, considering he's a 31-year-old shooting guard who depends on athleticism and has been in a steady decline for the last two years.
The former Michigan State Spartan has been particularly potent from the perimeter, knocking down 41.3 percent of his 5.7 attempts from downtown per game.
Richardson was supposed to be a solid role player on this Eastern Conference contender, not a guy scoring double-digit points per night with the second-best PER on the squad.
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 8.2 points, 4.9 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 1.8 blocks, 0.6 steals, 19.04 PER
The corpse of Jermaine O'Neal appears to have been reanimated during the offseason. After looking completely and utterly washed up with the Boston Celtics, the big man has proved that he isn't ready to hang up the sneakers quite yet.
Before the start of the year, ESPN's John Hollinger projected that O'Neal would post a 9.47 PER during the 2012-13 season, marking the third campaign in a year without the former All-Star breaking into double figures.
Instead, O'Neal's 19.04 PER is better than any number he's posted since the 2005-06 season.
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.1 blocks, 1.7 steals, 18.23 PER
Nicolas Batum hasn't just made that leap to become the player so many have expected him to develop into. He's done that and become the best player on the Portland Trail Blazers.
No disrespect meant to LaMarcus Aldridge, who just barely falls short of Batum, but the French small forward genuinely has been the top contributor on the Blazers. And the longer he can keep this pace, the better, because the bench in Portland is beyond awful.
The combination of stifling defense and well-rounded offense has turned Batum into one of the NBA's top players.
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 6.3 points. 0.5 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.1 blocks, 0.2 steals, 20.57 PER
If Keith Smart would actually play Jimmer Fredette more while taking time away from Isaiah Thomas and Aaron Brooks, who have both been quite disappointing, the former BYU standout would actually have a chance to live up to his lofty selection in the 2011 NBA draft.
Unlike his rookie season, the 2012-13 campaign has been kind to Jimmer.
He's shooting 46.3 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from behind the three-point arc, both of which represent dramatic improvements over his first-year numbers.
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 18.9 points, 10.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 2.4 blocks, 0.9 steals, 27.55 PER
Thirty-six-year-old big men who have been in the league since 1997 are not supposed to be dramatically increasing their level of play. Yet that's exactly what Tim Duncan has done during the early portion of the 2012-13 season.
He's looked like a top-five player in the NBA thus far, threatening 20 points and 10 rebounds every night—except when Gregg Popovich gives him a controversial day off—and playing the stellar defense we've come to associate with him.
Duncan's play has been one of the most surprising stories in the league, even though we've come to expect nothing but greatness from him.
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.6 blocks, 0.7 steals, 13.49 PER
Andrea Bargnani might be surrounded by better options this year, but he just hasn't been very good for the Toronto Raptors. It's not at all shocking that Raptors fans are getting a little fed up with the seven-footer.
He's only shooting 40.4 percent from the field, which means that his 17.4 points per game aren't as valuable as they could be. His 13.49 PER basically says it all.
Of course, this would be all right if Bargnani played lockdown defense. Cue the sounds of laughter in Toronto.
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 5.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.6 blocks, 0.9 steals, 17.43 PER
Not much has been too surprising on the Utah Jazz during the 2012-13 season, but the play of DeMarre Carroll has been at least a little bit head-scratching.
The athletic small forward has improved across the board during his fourth season in the league, showing progress in every area but his passing. He's managing this despite an increase in play of only 0.5 minutes per game from the 2011-12 season to the present one.
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 13.7 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 0.1 blocks, 0.3 steals, 16.60 PER
Jordan Crawford has actually been a productive player on offense for the Washington Wizards. Sorry to Wizards and Xavier fans out there, but that's actually shocking.
Just look at his offensive win share totals during each of his seasons in the NBA (per Basketball-Reference).
During his rookie season when he split time between the Atlanta Hawks and Wizards, he accumulated minus-1.0 offensive win shares. Then, he improved to 0.3 in his first full season in the nation's capital.
So far this season, Crawford has already matched last year's total, and he's only played in 15 games.