Five emerging stars to watch

They're quietly having terrific seasons and people are taking notice

Updated: March 21, 2012, 2:48 PM ET
By Chris Palmer | ESPN the Magazine
Ty LawsonGarrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty ImagesTy Lawson has emerged as the floor leader the Nuggets have needed.

Everybody's looking for his time to shine. This season, a host of previously under-the-radar players, such as Kyle Lowry and James Harden, have risen from the ranks of relative obscurity, thanks to productive seasons and added exposure that had them flirting with All-Star nods.

And of course, there was Jeremy Lin, whose breakout was anything but quiet. But who is in the next crop of emerging stars? They could be future All-Stars or key pieces to a championship puzzle. Here are five players who have quietly had great seasons so far. Keep an eye on them now, as they won't go unnoticed for very much longer.

Ty Lawson, PG, Denver Nuggets, PER: 18.11

[+] EnlargeTy Lawson
Jeff Hanisch/US PresswireTy Lawson has made an impact at the rim and with his passing skills.

In his first year as a full-time starter, Lawson has emerged as the Nuggets clear-cut most important player. First check the numbers: career highs in points (15.2), assists (6.8), rebounds (3.9) and minutes (35). He's also getting to the line more and shooting it at the highest clip of his career (81 percent, up from 76). His 22 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists on March 4 against San Antonio were a big reason he won Western Conference Player of the Week for games played through March 4.

Chris Palmer

ESPN the Magazine