Every season there are players that go from “Who’s that?” to “Wow, I want to be like that guy!”. Seeing how those type of players improve their game is truly amazing to watch and is easily one of the best parts of the long NBA season. That got me thinking about what players are likely to make the jump THIS season. So here are 7 guys for the upcoming season that might just be ready for an all-star level year:
7. Bismack Biyombo (Orlando Magic)
As the second string center last year in Toronto, Biyombo averaged 5.5 points a game, along with 8 rebounds. While these stats certainly don’t seem impressive, it was the playoffs where Biyombo shined the brightest. His impact on the game in all three of the series Toronto played was instrumental in how far they got. Biyombo’s reputation for blocking shots and scrapping up rebounds grew quickly in the lights of the biggest stage. Now, in Orlando, we might get to see more of the same playing under newly hired coach, Frank Vogel.
6. Harrison Barnes (Dallas Mavericks)
Barnes certainly did not play his best in the playoffs, as we all fell witness to his offensive struggles. This kind of slumps don’t usually last too long, though, and many critics seem to forget that this dude is only 24 years old. His move to Dallas has put a lot of weight on his shoulders, but with his new veteran teammates to help guide his path, and a shiny new contract to look forward to, it shouldn’t be too difficult to play to his potential. After all, the experience gained in his historic run with Golden State should help Barnes carve out a new path for his new team.
5. Andrew Wiggins (Minnesota Timberwolves)
Man, this team can be scary in a couple years. We have all seen some flashes from Wiggins in the past, but so far nothing has stuck. This year, however, all eyes will be on Karl-Anthony Towns. This should take some pressure off the kid and allow him to play his type of game. Let's do not forget about coach Tom Thibodeau, who should create a system that fits perfectly for Wiggins. All Andrew has to do now is play aggressive and accept the challenge of being this team's leader, night in and night out.
4. Eric Gordon (Houston Rockets)
Okay, okay, I know what you guys thinking. “How can a 27-year old be ready for a breakout season?!” This one, though, you can imagine as more of a “reawakening” than a breakout. Eric Gordon was pure money in his hay day. But a mixture of brutal injuries and lack of chemistry with his teammates has caused him to fall off quite a bit. Now, playing under James Harden, the pressure will be off and he will finally have an opportunity to begin the fresh start he so desperately needed. Plus, it won’t hurt for Gordon to be playing under Mike D’Antoni’s system of offense, offense, and more offense.
3. D'Angelo Russell (Los Angeles Lakers)
Anybody that watched the second half the last season has seen the types of plays this kid is capable of. He absolutely LIT UP the summer league, and reports say he has been in the gym all summer. With little expectations for the Lakers this year and a whole season of experience under his belt, he could be poised for the season of his life. With ex-warrior assistant coach Luke Walton as the new Laker head coach, Russell will no doubt have the green light to shoot shoot shoot. And if his shot resembles anything like we’ve seen so far this year, that shouldn’t be a problem. This could be the star LA has been waiting for.
2. Victor Oladipo (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Playing for the Magic, Oladipo was starting to look like just another average role player. We saw the occasional highlight play, but nothing spelled out “superstar”. He has a new chance to impress now, with the OKC Thunder. Westbrook will be able to find him during drives, and throw the ball to him for plenty of open threes. He will not be the center of attention for the team, but he will no doubt be a second or third option for a team trying to find its identity. This could be the time Oladipo starts doing amazing things with the basketball.
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)
Seems like this guy is on a list like this every year, doesn't it? But it’s for good reason because his size and skill set are unmatched in this league. He has gotten a little better every year so far, and this could be the season where he finally makes a significant jump. More eyes will be watching him, now that everyone knows how the Greg Monroe experiment turned out. The ball will be in his hands more too, considering head coach Jason Kidd will no doubt run him at point guard a lot more. There you have it, 7 players destined for a breakout season. We had many different types of guys on here, so it should be fun to see how each of their seasons play out.