Every player in the league spends their summer adding dimensions to their game, but only a rare breed is able to translate that work into immediate results on the court.
In three games, Ricky Rubio has managed to shed his reputation as one of the worst shooters to ever appear in the NBA, morphing into a legitimate scoring threat for Minnesota.
Rubio opened the night with a career-high 28 points on 10-of-17 shooting from the field, knocking down half of his attempts from 3-point range on the night.
Even with his hot shooting start, the 6-foot-4 guard is shooting just 36.8 percent from the field, the 11th worst field goal percentage in NBA history.
Entering the season, opponents would drift away from Rubio in an attempt to clog the passing lanes.
The tactic hasn’t worked this season, as Rubio is dishing out a league-high 10.3 assists per game in addition to the 17.3 points he is averaging.
The scoring number is seven more points than he has averaged for an entire season, while his 45.7 percent shooting from the field is the 15th best among all point guards in the league.
The Timberwolves have won two of their first three games of the season, averaging 102.7 points per game, five more than they posted a year ago, with Rubio becoming a legitimate scoring threat in the process.
Fantasy owners are hoping the performance from Rubio is a breakthrough, while several other players are excelling in areas of the game that are a bit unexpected.
Check out a few impressive starts to the 2015-16 fantasy basketball season.
Julius Randle– Los Angeles Lakers
The rookie campaign of Randle came to an end after just 14 minutes on the court. A broken right leg, suffered midway through the fourth quarter in his NBA debut, forced him to miss the the final 81 games of the regular season. In his debut this season, Randle posted 15 points and 11 rebounds. Randle is averaging 14 points 8.3 rebounds per game and Sunday against the Mavericks, he nearly posted a double-double in the opening quarter, as he scored eight points and grabbed eight rebounds. The 20-year-old submitted the most complete effort of his career, tallying 22 points, 15 rebounds, four assists and four steals, as he and Karl-Anthony Towns are the only rookies with multiple double-doubles this season.
Ish Smith– New Orleans Pelicans
During Smith’s six-year career, he has suited up for nine different teams and has never played more than 70 games for a single organization. His latest stop has landed him in New Orleans, and with the team in desperate need of a play maker, he has delivered. Smith ranks seventh in the league, tied with Michael Carter-Williams as he is dishing out 6.8 assists per game. The lofty assist total is more than John Wall, Ty Lawson, Stephen Curry and Rajon Rondo have averaged this season.
John Wall– Washington Wizards
There is no question Wall is one of the most athletic guards in the league, but that has never translated into shot blocking prior to this season. In three games, the 6-foot-4 guard has swatted eight shot attempts, five more than anyone else on the Wizards. The 2.7 blocks per game he is averaging is more than defensive stalwarts Andre Drummond, Tim Duncan, Nerlens Noel and Draymond Green are averaging per game this season. During his first five seasons in the league, Wall has never blocked more than 57 shots, in just 144 minutes of total action, he is already 14 percent of the way there.
Jae Crowder– Boston Celtics
The Celtics led the NBA in steals, ripping the ball away from opponents an average of 11.3 times per game. In each of his first three appearances this season, Crowder has registered at least two steals, and has posted three in consecutive games against San Antonio and Toronto. In 241 career appearances, this is the first time Crowder has ever posted consecutive three steal outings. The 2.7 steals Crowder is averaging is second in the league only to Raptors guard Kyle Lowry. During his first three seasons in the league, Crowder has never averaged a steal per game during an entire season.
Jeremy Lamb– Charlotte Hornets
Category- Field Goal Percentage
As one of the few players of the 2012 NBA Draft to agree to a contract extension prior to the deadline, as Charlotte signed him to a three-year, $21 million deal after just two appearances with the team. Lamb responded Monday night by connecting on 9-of-10 attempts from the field as part of a 20 point, four rebound, three assist, two steal effort. The Hornets are seeking a scoring punch from anywhere on the roster and Lamb has been the most consistent performer this season. Lamb ranks eighth in the league in shooting percentage, as he has made 58.6 percent of his attempts from the field and has knocked down 6-of-12 attempts from 3-point range.