The NBA season is a maker of men, being an 82-game grueling marathon where frenetic starts often subside as the campaign chugs along. But every season sees a handful of players that raise their game after the All-Star break. Some of the performance lift can be traced to role changes after the trade deadline, while some guys are just finally beginning to hit their stride and gain peak form.
Today, we’ll take a look at 13 players that have stepped their respective games up since the All-Star break.
Bradley Beal, Shooting Guard, Washington Wizards
Pre All-Star: 22.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 47% FG, 40% 3PT, 59% TS
Post All-Star: 27.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 52% FG, 42% 3PT, 64% TS
Beal is currently eighth in the league in post All-Star break scoring while improving his shooting effectiveness across the board. Beal’s scoring binge has relieved some of the offensive burden off of backcourt mate John Wall, who’s currently second in post All-Star break assists, averaging a whopping 11.3 per contest.
Dario Saric, Forward, Philadelphia 76ers
Pre All-Star: 10.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 40% FG, 33% 3PT, 49% TS
Post All-Star: 19.7 points, 8.4 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 46% FG, 30% 3PT, 54% TS
The widespread belief, before the season began, was that a Philadelphia 76ers player would hoist the 2016-17 Rookie of the Year trophy. As we head down the stretch, this belief holds true, but it likely won’t be who the favorites were before training camp began. Center Joel Embiid was the early favorite but was shut down after only playing in 31 contests. Ben Simmons, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2016 draft, hasn’t played a minute due to a foot injury. That leaves the race wide open for Saric to unexpectedly snatch the hardware.
Danilo Gallinari, Forward, Denver Nuggets
Pre All-Star: 17.2 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 43% FG, 38% 3PT, 60% TS
Post All-Star: 19.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 51% FG, 43% 3PT, 69% TS
On first glance, Gallinari’s splits since the All-Star break aren’t earth shattering. However, the Nuggets have posted a 7-3 record since returning to action and are currently on pace for their first playoff appearance since 2013. The veteran forward has also increased his production despite playing roughly three fewer minutes per contest than the first half of the season.
Jordan Clarkson, Shooting Guard, Los Angeles Lakers
Pre All-Star: 13.7 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 45% FG, 33% 3PT, 53% TS
Post All-Star: 19.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 46% FG, 27% 3PT, 55% TS
Clarkson is averaging 31.1 minutes since the All-Star break and he’s been one of the primary benefactors in the aftermath of the Lakers sending veteran guard Lou Williams to Houston at the trade deadline.
Tim Hardaway Jr., Shooting Guard, Atlanta Hawks
Pre All-Star: 13.1 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 45% FG, 35% 3PT, 55% TS
Post All-Star: 16.9 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 50% FG, 44% 3PT, 62% TS
The fourth year guard is enjoying a career-year and will head to free agency this summer with increased market value. It will be interesting to see if the Hawks lock in Hardaway long term with their lack of backcourt depth or allow suitors to set the market price to retain him.
Ricky Rubio, Point Guard, Minnesota Timberwolves
Pre All-Star: 8.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 8.4 assists, 39% FG, 28% 3PT, 53% TS
Post All-Star: 14.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 11.8 assists, 46% FG, 39% 3PT, 57% TS
The fact Rubio is still on the Minnesota Timberwolves’ roster at this juncture of the season may be a surprise for some. The primary thought was that Minnesota would eventually trade Rubio since the club drafted Kris Dunn last June. Dunn has struggled to find a rhythm and with his consistency, which is normal for a rookie. The Timberwolves are 6-3 since the All-Star break and Rubio leads the league in assists during this timeframe (11.8 per contest).
Marvin Williams, Forward, Charlotte Hornets
Pre All-Star: 11.0 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 41% FG, 35% 3PT, 53% TS
Post All-Star: 14.4 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 52% FG, 36% 3PT, 65% TS
Williams is averaging nearly a double-double over the past 11 games. The Hornets currently sit eleventh in the Eastern Conference Finals. The team has compiled a 5-6 record during this time, but Williams has proven to be a consistent contributor on a nightly basis, despite the overall struggles.
Jusuf Nurkic, Center, Portland Trail Blazers
Pre All-Star: 8.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 55% FG, 0% 3PT, 60% TS
Post All-Star: 15.3 points, 9.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 51% FG, 0% 3PT, 57% TS
With Nikola Jokic’s emergence, the Nuggets shipped Nurkic to Portland where the big man thrived since the All-Star break, not only averaging nearly a double-double, but almost five assists per contest.
Richard Jefferson, Forward, Cleveland Cavaliers
Pre All-Star: 5.1 points, 2.4 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 42% FG, 29% 3PT, 54% TS
Post All-Star: 9.4 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 58% FG, 48% 3PT, 73% TS
The numbers Jefferson is putting up post All-Star break will never compare to what the veteran was able to do in his prime, however, as the defending champion Cavaliers build toward another title run, head coach Tyronn Lue is playing Jefferson 26 minutes per contest—and the veteran is giving him some solid production.
Karl-Anthony Towns, Center, Minnesota Timberwolves
Pre All-Star: 23.7 points, 11.8 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 52% FG, 34% 3PT, 60% TS
Post All-Star: 29.2 points, 15.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 64% FG, 46% 3PT, 68% TS
Towns’ nightly stat line was already on a top tier, but since the All-Star break, he has been playing like a man possessed. The team is 6-3 since the break and Towns leads the league in rebounding and is third in scoring during this timeframe.
Willy Hernangomez, Center, New York Knicks
Pre All-Star: 6.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 54% FG, 27% 3PT, 58% TS
Post All-Star: 10.6 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 59% FG, 0.0% 3PT, 60% TS
In a season full of failed expectations and injury, the Knicks rookie big man has consistently flashed his potential since the All-Star break.
Elfrid Payton, Point Guard, Orlando Magic
Pre All-Star: 12.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 46% FG, 27% 3PT, 51% TS
Post All-Star: 12.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, 8.2 assists, 52% FG, 0.0% 3PT, 56% TS
In the same amount of minutes per game, Payton has doubled his rebound production and is currently sixth in the league in assists since the All-Star break.
Seth Curry, Shooting Guard, Dallas Mavericks
Pre All-Star: 11.7 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 47% FG, 42% 3PT, 58% TS
Post All-Star: 18.4 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 53% FG, 50% 3PT, 67% TS
The Mavericks are still in the playoff hunt out west, winning six of their past 10 games. Curry has been one of the primary drivers of the team’s success. He ranks 15th in the league in three-point field goals since action resumed following All-Star weekend.
Alan Williams (Phoenix Suns), Willie Cauley-Stein (Sacramento Kings) and Brandon Ingram (Los Angeles Lakers)
Usually, the two months following the All-Star break can be tough to watch for some teams. Many are out of contention, but fortunately, there is at least some evidence of some youngsters coming into their own. At the very least, that provides fans something to look forward to for next season.
Make sure to follow Basketball Insiders on Twitter at @BBallInsiders.