We are almost halfway into the NBA season, eliminating much of the early season flukes and making the consistent players seem real. Like every season, many players are standing out in a big way, whether it be trades or injuries that put them where they are. These players are making the league more fun to watch. These are the players to pay more attention to in this latter half of the season.
Breakout Players of the Eastern Conference
Spencer Dinwiddie (Brooklyn Nets)
Spencer Dinwiddie, a late second round pick in 2014, did not do much his first couple of seasons. Drafted by the Detroit Pistons, he never played that much. He only averaged 13 minutes and started one game in his two seasons with Detroit. He joined the Brooklyn Nets last year and started producing, shooting 44 percent from the field and averaging 7 points. This season Dinwiddie has gotten the full opportunity as the starting point guard for the Nets, with D’Angelo Russell injured for most of the first half. This season, he is averaging a career high 13 points and dishing out a career high 6 assists per game. Dinwiddie is one of the main components to a Nets lineup that competes every night despite the odds.
Victor Oladipo (Indiana Pacers)
Victor Oladipo was a highly touted prospect that has performed marginally well in the pros. Since being drafted by the Orlando Magic he has been a decent NBA player, but maybe not as good as his draft stock. Oladipo was traded to the Indiana Pacers this summer after not living up to expectations by the Oklahoma City Thunder. He became the main guy in Indiana after their top player Paul George was sent to the Thunder.
This season Oladipo has fully come to life, averaging a career high 25 points. That is eight points higher than his previous high. He is also shooting a career high 49 percent from the field. No one could have foreseen Oladipo producing at this high of a level. He was the throw in so the Pacers could get rid of George, who was unhappy with the team. Oladipo has established himself as one of the best players in the league and one of the brightest talents, as he is only 25.
Nikola Mirotic (Chicago Bulls)
After getting a facial fracture from teammate Bobby Portis in the preseason, much was unclear of Nikola Mirotic‘s future with the team. He made it clear early on he wanted the team to choose between him or Portis upon his return. Losing Mirotic did not seem like a great loss considering he has been an average scorer in the league his whole career and could be replaced. The Chicago Bulls kept him on the roster and also Portis.
Since returning to the lineup, Mirotic has averaged 17 points a game. This is five points higher than his previous career high. Mirotic was one of the catalysts to the Bulls mid-season surge as they went on a seven game winning streak, only winning three games up until that point. Occasionally time heals all wounds, and whether or not the Bulls decide to keep Mirotic, he looks to be a talented scorer in this league for years to come.
Aaron Gordon (Orlando Magic)
When Aaron Gordon competed in the slam dunk contest in 2016, no one knew who he was. He was seen as a former first round draft pick that did not seem to be living up to the potential. We saw flashes of his dominant play last year. This year, he has taken things to another level. This season, Gordon has had two 40 point games. He has also averaged 19 points this season, which is six points higher than his previous best. Gordon was a major reason the Magic got off to such a great start this season. He is also why Magic fans should be optimistic looking towards the future.
Kristaps Porzingis (New York Knicks)
After Carmelo Anthony was traded to the Thunder, many questions were raised if Kristaps Porzingis could become the guy in New York. He wasted no time showing he was the new superstar the New York Knicks desperately needed. Porzingis broke a team record, scoring the most points in the team’s first 10 games. He also averaged 25-plus points for a good portion of the first half. Porzingis has slowed down in terms of production lately but is still averaging 24 points this season. That is six points higher than his previous best. He can rebound, block shots and shoot the three. There is not much Porzingis cannot do. He looks to be the centerpiece on the Knicks as they look to rebuild into a contender.