Young players are either overhyped or underestimated, either because they lack the support cast around them to fit their talents or just because they don’t have much experience coming out of the NCAA or overseas.
For a youngster in the best competition ever, things can get pretty rough if their team isn’t exactly what they would expect, as they will never have the chance to actually compete and get tested at the highest levels during the postseason.
That’s why whenever one of these prospects takes matters into his own hands and develops the leadership bad teams require to at least make a postseason run, you can tell them apart from average players that never achieve their true potential.
With just over two weeks before tip-off and training camps already underway, it’s pretty much time we start making projections and even though some of them are just based on gut and some speculation, considering what we’ve seen from young bloods over their first couple of seasons in the NBA, we’re pretty confident that these guys will become major studs this season.
7. Devin Booker
Devin Booker isn’t at the top of our list for one simple reason: he’s already a stud, and he’s shown it since entering the league as a teenager with one of the most NBA ready offensive skillsets the league has seen from a youngster in a very, very long while.
Booker can shoot lights out, as he proved with his incredible 70 point performance against the Boston Celtics, and even though his defense is far beyond questionable, the impact he has on the floor as one of the league’s most prolific scorers despite not being around for very long will make him the leader the Suns need to grow as a project.
6. Rudy Gobert
Just like Booker, Gobert isn’t higher on this list because he already has proven that he can thrive at this level, and he’s bound for his first All-Star appearance this season and yet another Defensive Player of the Year campaign as one of the league’s elite shot blockers.
Gobert will feature a much bigger role in the Utah Jazz offense now with Gordon Hayward out of the picture, and Ricky Rubio’s arrival will definitely get him a lot of low post touches, with both players being very productive in the Pick and Roll. So, with Hayward now dressed in white and green, expect The Stifle Tower to take the reins now in Snyder’s squad.
5. Kristaps Porzingis
Porzingis is entering yet another season as the New York Knicks’ most exciting player, but he’s set to face the biggest challenge of his young career right now, and that will be thriving offensively as he’s done before but being the lone focus for opposing defenses with Carmelo Anthony out of the picture.
Kristaps’ skillset guarantees success in the league right now and the Knicks aren’t really trying to compete at this point, but he’ll have to work twice as hard this season to maintain his personal success and keep blossoming as one of the league’s rising stars.
4. D’Angelo Russell
D’Angelo Russell has been one of the biggest flops of the last couple of years so far, showing nothing but glances of greatness on a team that didn’t give him much chance to fail either and decided to cut ties with him as soon as they had the chance.
Fortunately (or unfortunately) for him, there’s no more time for excuses now. With the Brooklyn Nets bound to have yet another mediocre season with not many chances of even reaching the playoffs, he’s going to have the green light to shoot as many times as he desires and just focus on improving his overall game, so we expect him to average at least over 20 points this season as the Nets leader.
3. Victor Oladipo
Victor Oladipo is far below what was expected of him out of Indiana back then when the Orlando Magic drafted him 2nd overall, and he’s set to play for his third team after just 4 full NBA seasons, making those people that often compared him with a young Dwyane Wade look like complete idiots at this point.
Still, the combo guard may found it much easier now that he’ll be one of the most experienced and gifted youngsters in the Indiana Pacers team, and considering Myles Turner lacks the kind of character a leader needs to show to take the reins of the team, we expect Oladipo to lead the way and have a very solid season for a very bad team
2. Buddy Hield
As expected, Buddy Hield’s NBA journey got off with the wrong foot due to some inconsistency issues that just got worse when the Pelicans kind of shut the door on his playing time, even sending him to the Sacramento Kings in order to land DeMarcus Cousins and make a second-half push to reach the postseason.
Nevertheless and despite still not finding a consistent touch, Hield’s offensive game is quite versatile and he has the tools to become a superstar 5 years from now, so he better step up this season with the Kings looking to tank and let the youngsters develop, averaging at least 20 points per game for Sac-Town.
1. Dennis Schroder
Dennis Schroder has been quite productive since entering the league several seasons ago, but this year will represent the hardest task so far in The German Rondo’s young NBA career, being pretty much left alone alongside Kent Bazemore on an Atlanta Hawks team that will fight till the end to have the worst record in the nation.
Schroder has already lived up to the task of being the team’s starting point guard after Jeff Teague left the team, but now that he lacks any supporting cast whatsoever with Paul Millsap, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Kyle Korver already elsewhere, he’s going to have to be a much more consistent scorer and focus on improving while the Hawks try to land a top 5 prospect.