Logano certainly closed his tenure with Joe Gibbs Racing on a high note. While some might have been closing the year with a lame-duck status as he is exiting the team, Logano stepped up with a Nationwide Series win and some strong runs on the Cup side. He showed his efficiency on the track in rallying after dropping to the rear of the field at the start in the Sprint Cup race at Homestead after being caught up in a practice incidentas a penalty then rallying to finish 14th.
Colin Kaepernick, QB, 49ers
The 49ers’ starting quarterback began the season on the sideline with a clipboard and a headset. In Week 10, Alex Smith sustained a concussion and Kaepernick took over. The second-year quarterback torched the Bears’ secondary on Monday Night Football and never looked back. Head coach Jim Harbaugh later named Kaepernick the full-time starter.
Cecil Shorts III, WR, Jaguars
Haven’t heard of Shorts? Don’t worry, you will soon. The Jaguars didn’t spend a first-round pick on him like they did with rookie wide receiver Justin Blackmon, but they gave him a small opportunity in the offense and he has taken advantage of it. Shorts, who was drafted out of Mount Union in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, leads the Jags with 824 yards receiving on only 43 receptions.
Bryce Brown, RB, Eagles
Brown was overlooked in last April’s draft and taken in the seventh round because he didn’t have success at the collegiate level. What he did have was sub-4.4 40-yard dash speed and when he started his first game in late November, he ran for a franchise rookie record 178 yards and two touchdowns. It seems the Eagles have found their change-of-pace back in Brown.
T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts
Hilton has been a consistent contributor for the Colts in his rookie season, racking up four 100-yard receiving games. The rookie has far exceeded his expectations, which were just to be a factor in the punt/kick return game in 2012. His instant success in the NFL gives rookie quarterback Andrew Luck another weapon in the Colts’ dynamic offense.
C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills
Spiller had his breakout season in 2012 and is on pace to break the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the first time in his short career. Spiller has been given more work this season, as franchise running back Fred Jackson has been hampered with injuries. He’s made the most of his opportunities, averaging 6.6 yards a carry and gives the Bills some versatility in the passing game.
Matt Bonner, PF, Spurs
Bonner doesn't play much for the San Antonio Spurs and averages fewer than three shots per game. But he usually makes those shots count. In the first month of the season, Bonner attempted 19 3-pointers and made 12 of them. That's not usuusal for the long-range specialist, a 42-percent marksman behind the arc in his nine-year NBA career.
Ray Allen, SG, Heat
A prolific scorer for most of his career, Allen is now a role player in his 17th NBA season and first with the Miami Heat. But he's playing that role perfectly. Shooting 51.6 percent on 3-pointers, Allen has already hit three game-winning shots for Miami, all from behind the arc.
LeBron James, SF, Heat
It's not just that LeBron puts up great numbers for the Heat. It's that he does it with extraordinary efficiency. Shooting 53 percent from the field and 44 percent on 3-pointers, he's making the game look easy. Except from the free-throw line, that is, where he's shooting a career-low 65.9 percent.
Tyson Chandler, C, Knicks
Chandler, the 2012 NBA defensive player of the year, doesn't try to do too much on offense. He sticks to dunks and layups, often off alley-oop passes or offensive rebounds. As a result, he's made over 70 percent of his shots this season, by far the league high. He also led the NBA in field-goal percentage at 67.9 last season, his first with the Knicks.
Serge Ibaka, PF, Thunder
Formerly a defensive specialist, Oklahoma City's young forward has developed a deadly midrange jumper and enough moves around the basket to average 14.3 points on 59-percent shooting this season. He also continues to excel at making opponents less efficient by swatting away their shots. He leads the league with 3.3 blocks per game.
Mindaugas Kacinas, South Carolina
The freshman forward didn’t exactly crack the starting lineup, coming off the bench in seven of the Gamecock’s first eight games. But under first-year South Carolina coach Frank Martin, Kacinas immediately made an impact as big as his 6-foot-7 stature. Only one player on South Carolina played in all eight of the first games and averaged more minutes. Through the season’s first month, he averaged 8.4 points per game, tied for the team lead in blocks and grabbed nearly six boards a game while also shooting 59 percent from the floor.
Shannon Scott, Ohio State
Aaron Craft is the unquestioned floor leader of the Buckeyes, but the offense doesn’t exactly lose its direction when the point guard goes to the bench. Scott, who came off the bench in every game in November, led Buckeyes reserves in minutes (18.7) and assists (4.0), and the entire team in steals with 11 in the first month of the season. What’s more, while Craft struggled with his shot, hitting only 37 percent of his attempts, Scott shot 43 percent and was only two assists behind Craft for the team lead.
Jeff Withey, Kansas
How can a starter — the most high-profile player — on a juggernaut like Kansas be considered efficient, you ask? Well, every time the ball gets in Withey’s general area, something happens. He finished the first month of the season second on the Jayhawks in scoring and led them in rebounding, blocks and shooting percentage. His 5.7 blocks per game actually led the entire nation. And he had one of only two triple-doubles in all of Division I in November, scoring 16 points, pulling down 12 rebounds and blocking 12 shots (a school record) against San Jose State on Nov. 26.
Nik Stauskas, Michigan
With Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. manning the backcourt, it’s tough to find points when you’re on the Wolverines. Unless you’re the freshman guard from Ontario, Canada. While spelling the superstars may be priority No. 1, filling the bucket has become a close second. He was third on the team in the first month of the season with 14.3 points per game on the then-No. 3 Wolverines and shot better from the floor, behind the arc and the charity stripe than either Burke or Hardaway.
James Southerland, Syracuse
Hey, if you're going to be in the running for any sort of month-end honor, what's the smartest thing to do? End with a bang. On the final day of November, Southerland came off the bench and scored a career-high 35 points to lead the Orange to a 7-0 start with a 91-82 win at Arkansas. The 6-foot-8 senior forward also hit a career-high 9 3-point baskets (on 13 shots). All the performance did was brought to an end an amazing month for perhaps the nation's best sixth man. Despite not starting a game through the season's first month, Southerland led Syracuse in scoring (16.7 ppg) while shooting 56 percent from the field, including a whopping 47 percent from 3-point range.
Jeff Burton, Richard Childress Racing
There was a time when Burton joked about his ability to rally from a poor start after a series of setbacks in qualifying. Still, he added a new level to that when he had to drop to the rear at the start of the penultimate race of the season because of moving to a backup car after a crash in practice. Burton rallied from the setback with a smooth run through the field to finish 13th at Phoenix International Raceway.
Greg Biffle, Roush Fenway Racing
Biffle, too, showed his ability to take on a new role in the final race of the season. After dropping to the rear at the start of the race because he had to shift to a backup car after an incident in practice, he rallied to finish fifth at Homestead - giving his Chase for the Sprint Cup final finish a boost.
Danica Patrick, JR Motorsports
Patrick is preparing to take on a new role in 2013 - that of full-time Sprint Cup driver - but she closed out her Nationwide Series career with an efficient series of runs that left her as the top female driver in any of NASCAR's three national touring series. Patrick finished 10th in the Nationwide standings, a first for a female driver in any of those series.
Matt Kenseth, Roush Fenway Racing
Kenseth, seen here with his daughter, has spent his entire full-time Cup racing career with Roush Fenway Racing. After making the surprising announcement to leave the team at season's end, he showed in the final races that he could make the most of his limited opportunity and closed the year seventh in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.