NBA Rookies 2012: 1st-Year Pros Who Are Most Surprising Success Stories

David DanielsSenior Writer INovember 18, 2012

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 12:  Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Hornets is seen prior to the start of the game with the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center on October 12, 2012 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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NBA rookies who have found instant success in 2012 are surpassing early expectations.

Some are prospects who were highly touted but weren’t expected to dominate so soon. On the flip side, others weren’t expected to receive playing time at all but, despite that, have found a role.

Here are the most surprising first-year ballers from each side of the spectrum.

4. Anthony Davis

Everyone and their mother knew that Davis would impose his will on the defensive end of the floor from day one. On offense, though, he was supposed to struggle.

The first-overall selection who was labeled "extremely raw" is averaging more in the NBA (16.0 points per game) than he did at Kentucky (14.2). He’s second on the New Orleans Hornets in scoring and second among rookies, behind only another player on this list.

3. Kyle Singler

I’m going to be honest. I forgot that Singler existed.

The former Duke star is still technically a rookie because he sat out all of last season. This year, though, he’s making fans remember his name as a key reserve on the Detroit Pistons. He’s averaging 9.3 points and shooting 45.5 percent from downtown.

2. Damian Lillard

Lillard is showing that the astronomical scoring numbers he put up at Weber State weren’t the result of a lack of competition. He hasn’t increased his average points per game like Davis has, but he’s leading the class with 19.3—a mark that’s rare for a rookie to reach.

The point guard has upped his assist numbers, though, from 4.0 with the Wildcats to 6.4 on the Portland Trail Blazers.

1. Alexey Shved

While I simply forgot about Singler, I'd never even heard of Shved.

But it looks like the Minnesota Timberwolves have found yet another phenomenal foreign floor general. The 23-year-old Russian point guard is averaging 10.4 points and 4.2 dimes per games in just 23.1 minutes of action this season.

If Shved continues to play so efficiently, he’ll be the T-Wolves’ long-term solution behind Ricky Rubio.

David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.