The start of the 2012-13 NBA season has been absolutely crazy—with teams we predicted to be in the Finals slipping below .500, injuries mounting and trade rumors heating up—and is only becoming more unpredictable as time goes on.
Because of the uncertain nature of the league, it seems that any player could go off at almost any time, and a potential star could be born anytime a reserve steps on the floor.
Let’s take a look at a few of the more unheralded players in the league that have a chance to put themselves on the map in Week 7.
Louis Williams, SG, Atlanta Hawks
Week 7 Matchups: @Miami Heat, @Orlando Magic, vs. Charlotte Bobcats, @Golden State Warriors
The 12-5 Hawks are perhaps the nicest surprise of the season. No one gave this squad much credit without Joe Johnson, but they have gelled nicely behind Al Horford and Josh Smith, with a roster of rock-solid role players contributing at a high level.
Perhaps no one on the bench is doing more than Louis Williams, the former 76ers star that has had a real chance to shine with three-point specialist Kyle Korver sidelined with back spasms.
Williams was instrumental in leading the Hawks past the 14-4 Grizzlies, dropping 21 points, grabbing three rebounds, recording two steals and dishing one assist. If he continues to get 30-plus minutes per night in the backcourt, he’s got a shot to put up similar figures on the reg.
Kevin Seraphin, PF, Washington Wizards
Week 7 Matchups: @New Orleans Hornets, @Houston Rockets, vs. Los Angeles Lakers, @Miami Heat
While the 2-15 Wizards are still the lowliest team in the league, Seraphin has surprisingly blossomed into a real weapon for the young squad.
This second-year man out of France has really come on over the past 10 games, averaging 13.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks. He put together a stretch of three straight double-doubles last week and showed the potential to do that on a nightly basis.
At 6’9”, 275 lbs., the big man certainly has the bulk to make space in the paint to score or pull down rebounds, and we’re going to expect continued improvement from the 23-year-old every week for the remainder of the 2012-13 campaign.
Marco Belinelli, G, Chicago Bulls
Week 7 Matchups: Vs. Los Angeles Clippers, @Philadelphia 76ers, vs. Brooklyn Nets
No Rip Hamilton, no problem for Chicago.
Belinelli has adequately filled in for the aging SG, playing over 40 minutes in each of the last three contests and absolutely draining his shots.
The Italian sniper has connected on 21 of 43 shot attempts and 8 of 20 three-pointers during this small stretch as a starter, plus grabbed 10 boards, dished four assists, grabbed four steals and has generally been a positive asset for the Bulls.
With Hamilton out for up to four weeks, Belinelli has nearly a month to make a strong case as to why he should continue starting the rest of the season. He’s clearly already begun and should only improve as his three-point accuracy rises.
Alexey Shved, G, Minnesota Timberwolves
Week 7 Matchups: Vs. Denver Nuggets, @New Orleans Hornets, vs. Dallas Mavericks
This big rookie guard has been a bit careless with the basketball, averaging 2.1 turnovers per game, but is starting to appease coach Rick Adelman and will continue to see major minutes off the pine in Minnesota.
Shved has some friendly matchups this week and should be able to put up some big numbers in the 24 or so minutes he gets off the bench. While the Russian is only playing half the game at this point, it’s not a stretch to see him overtaking Malcolm Lee for the starting job while Brandon Roy is still out with a knee injury.
That could happen as early as this week if Shved continues to dominate and takes care of the ball, especially in the fourth quarter.
Bismack Biyombo, PF, Charlotte Bobcats
Week 7 Matchups: Vs. Golden State Warriors, vs. Los Angeles Clippers, @Atlanta Hawks, vs. Orlando Magic
Biyombo was inserted in the starting lineup of Saturday night’s blowout loss to the San Antonio Spurs, but coach Mike Dunlap might be onto something by giving his second-year big more minutes.
The 20-year-old contributed four points, eight rebounds and two blocks in 33 minutes—poor numbers by most measures—against the Spurs, but is getting valuable experience and has shown the propensity to absolutely explode in the boards and swats department.
If Biyombo can continue starting, harness his raw athleticism and focus it for at least two of these four upcoming matchups, he’s going to have a monster week.
The young man was taken No. 7 overall in last year’s draft and should get the minutes he needs to develop into a legit NBA superstar.
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