The 2012-13 NBA season has turned a corner now that the winter holidays are in the books, and a number of players are starting to heat up in the New Year.
Whether they are crafty veterans playing like youthful studs, or young players showing flashes of their potential, these guys are primed for a great Week 11. Let’s take a look at which teams these underrated stars are playing and what to expect from them.
Andre Miller, G, Denver Nuggets
Week 11 Matchups: vs. Orlando Magic, vs. Cleveland Cavaliers, vs. Golden State Warriors
Miller established himself as the best pure point guard on this Nuggets team when Ty Lawson was down with an injury, and his value has remained high even with the young speedster back in the lineup.
It’s clear coach George Karl trusts the veteran with the ball in his hand, allocating 24 minutes for him in the Nuggets most recent game against the Lakers. Miller wound up shooting 4-of-10 from the field, piling in 12 points, dishing 10 assists and grabbing three boards during his limited time on the floor.
If the 36-year-old continues to put up impressive numbers like that, he’s going to see even more action and improve his statistics further.
C.J. Miles, G/F, Cleveland Cavaliers
Week 11 Matchups: @Chicago Bulls, vs. Atlanta Hawks, @Denver Nuggets, @Los Angeles Lakers
Miles has worked his way into the starting lineup, with Dion Waiters hitting the bench in a sixth-man role he is more suited to during his rookie season.
Over the past five contests, the former Jazz player has been averaging 16.4 points on 46 percent field-goal shooting and 44.4 percent three-point bombing. He’s a natural scorer who isn’t afraid to fire away from deep, and he’s becoming more comfortable with his new role as a starter.
We would like to see Miles grab more rebounds considering his 6’6” frame (only 2.6 per game during that five-game stretch, and perhaps look to set up teammates (just one total assist in the last five contests), but we’ll take his hot scoring for now.
John Salmons, G/F, Sacramento Kings
Week 11 Matchups: vs. Memphis Grizzlies, vs. Dallas Mavericks, vs. Miami Heat
With Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton out of the picture, Salmons has really turned it on as part of the Kings' starting lineup.
Over the past five games, Salmons is averaging 14.6 points, 3.8 assists and 2.8 rebounds, plus connecting on 51.9 percent of his FG attempts and making 37.5 percent of long-range shots.
Even with Evans and Thornton slated to return shortly, we suspect Salmons has done enough to earn serious minutes in coach Keith Smart’s rotation. The 33-year-old brings veteran leadership and efficient scoring to a team that sorely lacked in both of these areas prior to his increased minutes.
Patrick Patterson, F/C, Houston Rockets
Week 11 Matchups: vs. Los Angeles Lakers, @New Orleans Hornets, @Boston Celtics, @Philadelphia 76ers
Patterson is coming off a foot injury, but has been playing well and should soon assume the starting PF role again in Houston.
The third-year man out of Kentucky has logged a number of highly efficient minutes since New Year's Eve, averaging 14 points, six rebounds, 1.8 assists and shooting 69.7 percent from the field and 53.8 percent from deep in four games.
While his fill-in, sophomore Marcus Morris, hasn’t been too shabby (11 points, 5 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 46 percent FG, 42 percent 3PT over last five games), we fully expect Patterson to reclaim his rightful place in the starting lineup within a few days.
Once Patterson is back, he’ll help the surging Rockets continue winning while putting up big numbers.