The All-Star break is just around the corner and that always represents the beginning of the season’s most crucial stretch, with sluggish teams just flat out tanking and letting their youngsters take the reins, while other teams need to make a push to reach the playoffs.
Following trades, buyouts and what not, teams tend to look quite different after the All-Star Break. Contenders tend to shorten their rotation, while slumping teams just experiment with young players to see what they can get out of them.
Obviously, that translates in better stat lines, more playing time and a glance of what they can do. This year won’t be the exception, and we’re going to let you know about the 7 players that are going to explode after the All-Star break.
7. Jabari Parker
Following a season-ending injury, Jabari Parker was finally able to make his return to the hardwood and even though he’s most likely to be brought back slowly, he’s going to be a major piece for the Bucks going forward.
Milwaukee is one of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference since firing coach Jason Kidd, and we all know Parker’s ability to score in a huge variety of ways, providing a much needed boost for the young Bucks.
6. De’Aaron Fox
De’Aaron Fox’s rookie campaign hasn’t gone nearly as well as everybody expected, with the young point guard struggling in both ends of the hardwood except for some glances of greatness he’s shown.
Still, he’s now the lone ball handler in the team’s rotation with George Hill being dealt to the Cleveland Cavaliers, so he’s going to have a much easier time getting used to the pace and rhythm of the Association.
5. Myles Turner
After once again being one of the people’s favorite to take home the Most Improved Player award, Myles Turner has struggled to take a step forward and lead the Indiana Pacers as their most talented player.
With his kind of skill set in both ends of the hardwood, he’s got all the tools to become a great two-way big man, and with Indiana being almost a lock to reach the playoffs, he’s going to have a huge role for this young squad going forward.
4. Tim Hardaway Jr
With Kristaps Porzingis’ season-ending injury and the New York Knicks dealing away Doug McDermott, no one can score a bucket for the Knicks beside Michael Beasley and obviously: Tim Hardaway Jr.
So, after a great start of the season, THJ may be in for a breakout on a team that’s not going to contend and that will focus mainly in developing their young and promising talents for the upcoming campaign.
3. Jahlil Okafor
The lack of playing time in the Philadelphia 76ers has made Jahlil Okafor transition quite difficult for the Brooklyn Nets, as he’s out of shape and rusty. Still, with Brooklyn slumping in the standings, they’re likely to have a very long leash with Big Jah.
Even on limited minutes, he’s shown what he’s capable of doing in the offensive end, and his playing time is just set to increase as we approach the last couple of months of the regular season.
2. D’Angelo Russell
D’Angelo Russell was on a tear before suffering a nagging injury that kept him on the shelf for several months, and with Spencer Dinwiddie’s surge as the team’s primary playmaker, he’s taken the back seat to come off the bench for Brooklyn.
Still, he’s logging heavy minutes in the team’s rotation and has been quite good since returning, so we could expect him to completely explode when he finds his rhythm back, wanting to prove his the best and most talented player on a rebuilding squad.
1. Zach LaVine
Except for several defensive mistakes, LaVine has looked terrific after his knee injury, and he hasn’t lost a bit of his athleticism or explosiveness, while his shooting stroke didn’t take a toll either despite months sidelined.
Now that he’s set to have his minutes' restrictions lifted and with the Bulls looking to tank their way to the end of the season, LaVine is in for huge stat lines, proving he’s the team’s next go-to-guy after Jimmy Butler’s departure.