NBA: 5 young players who have surprised everyone this season

Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors looks on in a break run play against the Indiana Pacers (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors looks on in a break run play against the Indiana Pacers (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /
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Miles Bridges #0 of the Charlotte Hornets reacts after dunking against the Boston Celtics; NBA (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

From the lackluster Los Angeles Lakers to the wondrous Washington Wizards, this NBA season has already provided us with plenty of surprises. Equally as surprising have been some of the early leaps we have seen from many of the younger players in the league.

The NBA, perhaps, has the most young talent it has ever had, and the start of this season has seen more names added to that list of impressive youngsters. Even some of the players that were expected to shine have vastly outperformed expectations, further raising their ceiling.

Here are five young players which have surprised many of us with their early-season performances…

5 young NBA players that have surprised everyone this year: Miles Bridges

The Charlotte Hornets’ wing turned down a four-year, $60 million contract from the team earlier this year, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. Instead, he opted to bet on himself this season in the hope of securing a bigger contract in 2022.

So far, that gamble looks like it will pay off big time.

Bridges is averaging 21.5 points over 14 games this season, up from 12.7 points last season. He has embraced the bigger opportunity he has been provided, playing more minutes per game at 36.2, increasing the number of shots taken per game from 9.4 to 17.4, and upping his usage rate 17 percent to 23.5 percent.

The 23-year-old has been let loose and is thriving with the increased responsibility he has been handed. His explosiveness and athleticism has been demonstrated to an even greater extent since the arrival of LaMelo Ball in Charlotte, which has made for one of the most effective alley-oop partnerships around.

Bridges’ confidence in isolation situations and knocking down threes has seen him develop into a well-rounded scorer, too. The big question was whether he could move from a talented role player to one of the main guys on the team when given more opportunity.

He has answered that question and more so far this season. It was clear Bridges always had the ability to do this, but his emergence as a scorer has come around suddenly, and somewhat unexpectedly.