Being a rookie or a sophomore in the NBA isn’t always as luxurious and flashy as you may all think, considering you have to work twice or even three times as hard as pretty much everybody else to be able to keep up and not get sent to the doghouse or the G-League.
Some players mightily struggle during their first couple of seasons in the NBA, while others quietly and slowly improve under systems that may not favor them at all or because their coaches decide to handle them with a lot of precaution and patience.
Still, it comes a point in the career of every youngster when it’s make or break time, and after a couple of subpar campaigns in the Association, they know they're pretty much dancing on thin ice, and they need to take their game up a notch if they don’t want to become flops and what ifs.
Today, we’ll discuss 5 young players that even though have shown a lot of good things, are still in debt with what was expected off of them, but that might as well have that breakout season and be Most Improved Player candidates.
Honorable Mention: Rodney Hood
PG Kris Dunn
Everybody was so hyped about Kris Dunn during his Providence stint, although it was pretty clear that he’d had to put a lot of work and improve his basketball IQ to avoid those silly mistakes and improve his assist to turnover ratio, one of his biggest flukes.
Still, having to share touches with Ricky Rubio and Tyus Jones wasn’t the ideal scenario for the youngster, but now that he’s the frontrunner to lead the Chicago Bulls first unit, he’d have as many touches as he likes to improve his shot and his consistency on both ends of the court.
SG Buddy Hield
Hield was yet another overhyped prospect that everybody saw as the new scoring threat in the Association, but it was also quite clear that he was going to have a lot of trouble to find consistency against NBA defenses after completely dominating the NCAA.
Now, as a member of the renewed Sacramento Kings and sharing the backcourt with standout prospect De’Aaron Fox, Hield is going to have the green light to shoot as much as he likes and work on his game on a team that doesn’t have anything to play for except to let their youngsters develop.
SF Brandon Ingram
Being a Lakers rookie must be quite hard nowadays, as just when it looks like you might be the next big thing in LA, another guy comes to steal your thunder. Hopefully, that’s not going to happen with one of the players that improved the most after the All-Star break this prior campaign: Brandon Ingram.
The Lakers got off to a terrific start of the prior season, so the fact that coach Walton kept giving starter minutes to Luol Deng, obviously hurting Ingram’s improvement. Now, he’s going to have a lot of fun playing alongside standout passer Lonzo Ball, and we definitely expect him to step up this season, especially from a distance where he was a huge disappointment during his rookie year.
PF Myles Turner
Myles Turner was one of the frontrunners to take home the Most Improved Player this past season, and he got off to a great start of the year before really falling down after the All-Star Break, struggling to record double digit boards and looking shy and slow on offense after knocking everybody off their feet with his ability to pull up from distance.
Now, he’s on a prime situation to shine considering Paul George’s finally gone and the Indiana Pacers are pretty much going to suck the entire season, so he’ll most likely be their go-to-guy on offense and he’s already shown what he’s capable to do as an elite rim protector for the future.
C Clint Capela
Clint Capela has vastly and rapidly improved since his rookie season, considering he was one of the roughest and more undeveloped prospects of his class until he completely took over the starting center job in Mike D’Antoni’s Houston Rockets, locking down the paint and making things a lot easier for Harden and his lousy defense.
And now that he’s set to have Chris Paul running their up-tempo offense, we could definitely expect him to become a DeAndre Jordan type of center: A lob master that can run the floor in a heartbeat and swat your shot in one basket to make the highlights with a dunk on the other.