When a new wave of players becomes NBA relevant, it usually happens over time, never all at once. It’s a gradual increase in relevance, sometimes under the radar, because it’s guys who reach their potential in small markets and losing situations. When a lottery pick hits early and fast, like Paolo Banchero, we know about it in real-time because our expectations are being met in their expected timeline. But it’s harder to remember precisely when guys like Alex Caruso, Maxi Kleber, Jerami Grant, and Tobias Harris started to click.
If you’ve been paying attention, and I mean really paying attention — like watching six to seven NBA games a night — you’ve begun to notice a few guys making their presence known around the league. And yes, most of them play on bad teams. And a few play on bad teams that are off to a hot start. Or they’re on good teams that have started off poorly. Either way, situational circumstances have led to a breakout beginning. Let’s chart which players should become household names before the season’s end and what their improved standing means for their team’s chances moving forward.