New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony
The five NBA stars who have exceeded all expectations in 2012-13 includes a group of players we certainly expected to be good this season.
We just didn't expect they'd be this good.
Three of the NBA's top five scorers are included in this group, along with two of its top five rebounders.
One of these stars is a future Hall of Famer who is shooting a career-best percentage from the field. Another is a player maximizing his first opportunity as a primary scoring option in the NBA.
This group also includes a one-time All-Star who has taken his team to unprecedented heights. It's rounded out by an aging forward returning from injury and an MVP-caliber talent who's elevated his team into a title contender.
Statistics and records accurate through Dec. 26, 2012.
Injuries shortened Zach Randolph's season to just 28 games last year.
He averaged a pedestrian 11.6 points in the process.
Randolph turned 31 years old this summer and was expected to be trending downward in terms of individual production.
In his 12th NBA season this year, however, it's been just the opposite for Z-Bo.
He's currently second in the NBA with a career-high average of 12.6 rebounds per game.
It's been this level of consistency from Randolph that his Memphis Grizzlies have used to help build an 18-8 record overall.
Even while understanding just how good Lee actually is, nobody expected these type of numbers.
Behind only Zach Randolph, he's posted the second-most double-doubles in the NBA with 18.
His 19.9 points and 11.2 rebounds have helped the Golden State Warriors to a 19-10 record, a mark that would be good for not only a playoff berth, but home-court advantage in the first round.
Lee's 53.6 percent shooting from the field is up over his previous two seasons. He's also averaging a career high in assists, at 3.7.
The 2010 All-Star deserves his second trip to All-Star Weekend again this season. Especially if his Warriors team keeps winning because of him.
Nobody expected James Harden to open his Houston Rockets career with a 45-point explosion in just his second game.
He wasn't expected to be the NBA's fourth-highest scorer this season either.
At 25.8 points per game, however, Harden has done specifically that as the Rockets' primary option offensively.
In the process, Harden is also totaling career highs in rebounding, assists and steals.
Last season, he was considered a very good player. Now, the NBA world accepts Harden as a superstar.
The Los Angeles Lakers have certainly struggled this season.
Just don't blame Kobe Bryant for that mess.
The 34-year-old his having an MVP-caliber season thus far. The league-leading 30.2 points per game he's averaging are his most in the past five seasons.
His assists are up over his previous two seasons. Bryant's three-point percentage is also the highest it's been since 2002-03.
None of this, however, is as crazy as Bryant's field-goal percentage.
In his 17th NBA season, Bryant is shooting a career-best 47.8 percent from the field.
While scoring 30 points per game, mind you.
He has exceeded all expectations. Even for what we've come to expect from Kobe Bryant.
There were moments last season when the New York Knicks appeared better with Jeremy Lin as their primary option than they were with Carmelo Anthony. As a result, we had no idea what to expect from Anthony and the Knicks heading into this season.
What Anthony has done since to answer those questions is turn in the best overall season of his NBA career.
Like a true franchise player, he has led his team to the second-best record in the Eastern Conference.
Anthony has scored 28.5 points per game in the process, good for second in the NBA.
The only other season in which Anthony averaged more was in 2006-07, when he scored 28.9 per game for the Denver Nuggets.