The NBA is a league of haves and have-nots.
It has been since its inception in 1946. With 33 of the league's 67 championships won by just two franchises (Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers), the NBA's strength has never lied in parity.
But one of the reasons that it retains its excitement after 60-plus years is that we don't always know exactly which teams belong to which category. It's not as if teams are orchestrating covert heists on the free-agent market, but rather that some clubs have gotten some unexpected bonuses out of blossoming stars.
That hasn't always translated into drastic changes for all of these franchises, but it has undoubtedly put these clubs in better positions moving forward. Whether that improved standing presents itself this season or in another year or two depends largely on the supporting cast surrounding these rising stars.
With only 12 active roster spots and 15 total places available, teams have to maximize the output of every player under their control. They may not have known it before the season, but the ongoing development of the following eight players has continued paying dividends for their respective clubs.
*In order to be qualified as an "unexpected star," players had to have posted career highs in at least two major statistical categories this season.